Sue McPartlin’s recruiting the best of the best at PwC Cincinnati & retaining a multi-generational workforce

The average age of Sue McPartlin’s counterparts at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP is 27. That’s roughly equivalent to the number of years she’s been at the Big Four accounting firm. There’s one thing those years of experience at the firm has given her — knowledge — and she’s very proud to share that knowledge with the company’s millennial employees who already make up more than 50 percent of PwC.

 “I’ve been here longer than most of our newer hires have been alive,” says McPartlin, who became market managing partner of PwC’s Cincinnati office in 2011. “Because such a large percentage of our employees are millennials, we can’t survive in business if we don’t attract and retain that talent.”

PwC Cincinnati has 210 employees and McPartlin leads an office that is responsible for the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana region. Since becoming market managing partner two years ago, she has had the growing challenge of leading a multi-generational workforce while also having to compete for the best and brightest talent coming out of college against the likes of EY, KPMG and Deloitte.

“One of our biggest challenges is the competition for talent and developing and retaining that talent,” McPartlin says. “We don’t make any kind of product; we sell services. Our people are our product. It has become fiercely competitive on campuses, as well as for experienced hires. It’s just a different caliber of young talent that we’re seeing these days.”

In a firm the size of PwC, there are numerous opportunities offered to employees who put forth the effort.

Here’s how McPartlin is passing along knowledge to the younger talent at PwC Cincinnati, while also working to retain a multi-generational workforce.

Recruit the best and brightest

On many of today’s college campuses, the competition for a job following graduation has become fiercer than in years past. The competition to attract that talent has also increased for businesses, especially among the Big Four accounting firms.

“It becomes very challenging to recruit and to ultimately retain strong talent,” McPartlin says. “We as a firm just did a global study called a NexGen study looking at millennials vs. non-millennials. We’ve been focused on it for quite a while, recognizing that the next generation of younger employees have different expectations and want different things.”

Those differences in wants and expectations add to that challenge as well. PwC has to make sure it stays current with what younger generations are looking for out of their employer.

“We have to make sure that people who have been around a while, like myself, don’t get embedded in how we grew up in the firm and how things were then,” McPartlin says. “Most of the younger generation doesn’t think they will work for one company their whole career, no matter who it is.”

PwC has always had direct competition for talent among the other Big Four accounting firms, but today the options available to candidates coming out of college are much more than five or 10 years ago.

“That adds to the competitiveness,” she says. “On the other side we have to match our needs and culture with how people want to work today.”

PwC has been around for more than 120 years, so it is imperative that it makes adjustments to be more attractive to the ever-changing workforce coming out of college.

“We’ve been on that journey now for a number of years, and we’re having a lot of success with it,” she says. “You have to stay on top of it, but who knows what expectations of people will be like five years from now. It’s both the true competition with other companies and firms, and the competition to grab the attention of these folks and get them to want to stay and be here.”

The recruiting process starts with getting out to college campuses and getting to know the potential talent you’ll be recruiting.

“It’s about getting to know people on a personal level so potential hires know from a people perspective what they’re getting into,” McPartlin says. “It’s also helpful to have people understand what the culture of your organization is like. That’s really important, and we see that in internal surveys we do of our people, and external data validates that the fit with a culture is really important to people.”