ALM Intelligence: Q&A with EY’s Kelly Cooper

Kelly Cooper is an Innovation & Strategy consultant at EY, with expertise in millennial talent management. She sat down with ALM Intelligence’s Liz DeVito, to discuss her work.

ALM Intelligence: What triggered you to shift from a career in financial services to consulting?

Cooper: Financial services is an incredibly exciting field, and my experience at an investment bank laid the groundwork for my career path. Like many millennials, I have an entrepreneurial mindset and am attracted to creating, building and problem-solving. I was drawn to the innovation opportunity because it allows me to help drive solutions for clients in response to disruption. This is a unique role in a start-up-like environment that provides entrepreneurial opportunities within a firm whose commitment to millennials is reflected in the culture. Helping build EY’s innovator brand and define our response to disruption has been the career opportunity of a lifetime.

ALM Intelligence: Tell us about the journey to becoming a millennial expert and strategist.

Cooper: Watching organizations struggle with motivating, engaging and managing millennials firsthand led me to explore the research behind the stereotypes. Being a millennial myself, I didn’t see the myths about our generation reflected in my peers, and that inspired me to drive change in the relationship between generations. I found myself in a unique position to represent millennials as hard-working, passionate and motivated individuals who crave collaboration and are extraordinarily conscientious about the impact we have on our friends, families, colleagues and communities. My work has allowed me to see how underutilized this generation is, and I developed a sense of responsibility to leadership and my peers to break down myths and demonstrate what we’re capable of.

ALM Intelligence: How do you help EY and clients with the challenge of millennial talent management? 

Cooper:  EY is intimately concerned with these issues, as millennials represent 74 percent of our workforce. Internally, we are focused on a cultural transformation that we like to call Suits+Jeans, a shift that brings together our credibility in professional services with more creative and technology-focused roles. We are now better able to compete for talent with Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs, becoming, in the process, an employer of choice for my generation. Our journey has shaped a rich portfolio of insights, research, and experience that helps clients better understand how to design millennial talent strategies that drive innovation and new ways of working.

ALM Intelligence:  How are you bringing your innovation expertise to the development of millennial strategies and solutions?

Cooper: As part of our global network of Wavespace innovation centers, we are expected to innovate with clients daily. My first challenge was to redefine our approach to delivering millennial research and strategy. The approach I adopted reflected my personal experience and a need to present data and insights and opportunities to be embraced. I led the development of an immersive tool—Millennial Insight Experience—that brings data to life and that feels exciting and engaging for our clients. I use the Millennial Insight Experience daily, and the response has been phenomenal.

ALM Intelligence: What are you working on now that excites you?

Cooper: It’s been fascinating to watch the Millennial Insight Tool have such an impact, resulting in a new way of presenting content and capabilities to clients. In response, our Innovation leadership team doubled down on their commitment by asking me to build a series of immersive experiences. This next wave is much broader, focusing on disruptive technology, which has been really exciting to explore. The second tool is focused on robotics, where I combined the success of the immersive experience approach with our end-to-end point-of-view on automation and the dozens of tools and enablers we are using to deliver to clients. We’re launching the new Robotics Experience globally, and the next in the series currently in development is blockchain.