Baker Tilly International Creates Tomorrow's Leaders

17 Jun 2009

Last month saw the launch of the Baker Tilly International Leadership Development Programme, a bespoke 14-day programme designed in conjunction with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The programme launched in London; subsequent modules will be held in Singapore (September) and Chicago (December).
The drive behind creating the programme has been two-fold, explains Geoff Barnes, CEO and president of Baker Tilly International. "At a time of fierce competition for calibre business opportunities and the best people, what makes our network different and more competitive is the development of leaders with an understanding of the global business community and how it operates. In today's global market, it is no longer enough for a firm's leaders to simply be aware of the local market in which they operate.
"Secondly, being part of the network is more than simply being a name in a directory. It is about knowing and trusting professionals in other parts of the world to be able to work together effectively. These relationships are what set us apart."
Holly Raider, client faculty liaison, executive education, University of Chicago Booth School of Business and programme director, emphasised the importance of the programme: "Given the shake up across the globe, there is opportunity for a land grab for top talent. This is one way Baker Tilly International is distinguishing itself: through a commitment to providing unique development opportunities.
"A competitive advantage of the Baker Tilly International network is its ability to balance local independence with the resources to co-ordinate global client services.  Truly effective global co-ordination relies on strong interpersonal networks of trust-based relationships across the member firms. A common logo or letterhead can only go so far. People need to be able to trust their counterpart on the other side of the globe. From cultural differences in negotiation to country differences in accounting and taxation policies, there is simply too much that can be misunderstood when co-ordinating global services. Interpersonal trust and goodwill are essential. Ultimately, these translate to superior levels of client service.
"Baker Tilly International has long invested in providing meaningful face-to-face time for building trusting relationships, but this programme represents a significant deepening of that commitment. We are teaching how to create those relationships as well as providing a setting in which to create them."
21 people from 17 member firms worldwide are taking part in the inaugural programme.

"The participants are our ideal", explains Raider. "Smart, experienced and eager to learn more."
Through three integrated modules and an action learning project, participants will address the unique challenges of international business, developing multinational opportunities and dealing with the intricacies of cross-cultural issues. They will be exposed to elements of leadership they may not necessarily come across in their daily lives, including strategy and marketing and branding.
They will also have the opportunity to build relationships with colleagues from member firms across the globe not only in person during the modules, but practically across time zones through a work-based group project that links each of the programme's modules.
One of this year's participants, Richard King joined the Leeds office of Baker Tilly (UK) as partner in 2006 and heads up the office's audit practice.
"The London module, which focused on strategy, was thought provoking; the debate was lively and often went on long after the day's formal proceedings finished. It was great to meet so many colleagues from around the world and have the opportunity to discuss the strategic and operational issues that affect us all", explains King.
"As well as working hard we found time to have some fun and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The debate on cultural stereotypes, myth or fact, was particularly entertaining."
While the development of staff is managed locally by each member firm, Baker Tilly International has established a framework to support them in their human resource initiatives, including a successful global secondment programme aimed at younger accountants/CPAs.
Barnes says: "The Leadership Development Programme is just one of the ways we are expanding our existing portfolio of development programmes, introducing initiatives to support people at all stages of development throughout their careers".

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