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‘It’s yours to build’: designing a career model to drive career autonomy


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How do you design a career model to drive autonomy among employees? That was the challenge tackled by Rakhee Unadkat, Associate Director, Global Talent at EY, and debated in our third virtual roundtable event of 2023.

Rakhee, as our excellent provocateur, began by explaining that EY had introduced and embedded a new career model and talent marketplace to meet its current and future business needs. She summed up a two-fold dilemma that EY (and many other businesses) faced:

  • Gaps in critical skills, in part a global workforce planning issue, with some skills underused in parts of the business, but overused elsewhere
  • Employees unable to see the diversity of career opportunities available and leaving for career growth

Towards a new model

EY also had had a career model based around its accountancy practice, a hierarchical “path to partner” model. This clearly didn’t work anymore, for three reasons:

  • Changing Needs. The old model was no longer attractive to those who favoured different approaches to their careers. A new model would need to deliver on EY’s Employee Value Proposition empowering people to build their own career, known as “it’s yours to build”
  • The Talent Supply Chain. Leaders actively wanted to pursue a strategic approach to skills for future working practices supported by talent mobility
  • The Pace of Change. Change is now taking place so rapidly that employees require ongoing reskilling. So fast-changing and diversified business models will require more effective insights into an organisation’s workforce and skills capabilities

For these and other reasons, EY reinforced career experiences and skills at the heart of their talent strategy. This meant:

  • Improved visibility and control of skills and career growth
  • Breaking down functional silos into agile, fluid teams
  • Evolving from a “linear” career mindset to a talent marketplace based on career mobility
  • Moving from limited to deep workforce insights
  • Mobility in careers based not on relationships, but on skills

To achieve its objectives, EY needed to reframe its approach to being a skills-based organisation. So, starting with its most senior business leaders, it identified nine business capabilities, representing broad fields of expertise that cut across EY’s operating model.

EY then broke these capabilities into distinct disciplines, then divided disciplines into role types. This in turn was broken down into specific roles, which were essentially a collection of technical and business skills and behaviours – and then finally into a focus on people capabilities, rather than the specific responsibilities of a role.

The EY Career Portal

A key part of the solution has been EY’s Career Portal, a global solution to enhance skills development and career management. The portal has three main elements:

  • Career framework and role profiles. There is a visibility of the roles performed at EY, and the skills and proficiencies expected, so employees know how to build skills and plan careers
  • Learning. Access to role-based learning to accelerate skills development
  • Career paths. These reflect people’s work interests and their alignment with KPIs and metrics, to ensure an employee’s contribution is effectively recognised

In the longer term, EY is looking to move further and faster in its skills-based talent strategy, with the help of digital technology, AI and data integration. This is what the organisation calls its “whole-self” skills and career solution – where people have all the information and tools they need to take charge of their skills and careers.

Our view

EY’s excellent careers strategy is helping it secure the capabilities it needs to thrive, now and in the future. “It’s yours to build” is a model that truly drives autonomy among employees and aligns with the business’s goals and values.

At The Career Innovation Company, we support career growth and mobility by giving employees and managers the skills they need to navigate dynamic careers, through solutions such as Career pulse, Be Bold and Career inspirer. These not only put employees at the centre of their own development, but also activate learning and talent mobility to drive business growth.

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