Background

Assurance is the largest of EY’s four service lines in the UK. The ability to deliver their Vision 2020 strategy and to progress their mission of ‘building a better working world’ determines whether the Firm as a whole is successful. Vision 2020 for assurance requires a shift in EY’s business from being Audit focussed to becoming a 50:50 Audit and Non Audit business.

Location

In Rugby World Cup year, EY decided to book Twickenham Stadium for the following reasons:
Newly refurbished event spaces
Strong Metaphor for History, Dedication, Teamwork, Success
Huge space to cater for 1,600 people
Good spaces for smaller groups
Close to Heathrow airport

Audience

Young, dynamic group from EY’s Assurance service line, labelled L1’s and L2’s. L1s are EY’s population of graduate and school leaver trainees at various stages of exam qualifications predominantly in the Audit business. L2s are qualified ACAs across Assurance who are 1-3 years into their post qualification careers.

Event Objectives

For EY people to come away feeling proud to work for EY, be part of a successful Assurance team and with a future that motivates them, where they can understand their contribution, feel inspired and feel their work is recognised and one where they trust the job being done by the partners/leaders.

They need to understand the opportunities Vision 2020 presents; they need to realise that they will need a new mind-set and skill-set that EY’s more senior team is trying to master in this new market the company faces. They need to have the courage to take on some of the challenges that presents, not just in growing the business, but in improving the quality of EY’s service and dealing with the complexity which comes with diverse people and clients.

The overarching key objective is to retain staff – encourage staff not to leave for one of the main competitors.

Initial Approach

With such an iconic venue we needed to tie the theme of rugby into the beginning of the event, without it becoming the main running theme throughout. This played a crucial part in our original thinking and helped us shape the delegate journey.

Production Values

We created a dynamic and varied two-day event for 1,600 of EY’s younger members working in Assurance. The event delivered insight and access to leaders and other role models, crucial networking opportunities, inspiring break-out sessions, activities and speakers, and reminded participants why EY is a great place to develop their career.

Our theme of ‘Extraordinary’ emphasised the special nature of the opportunities, the environment, the people and the work they do. The branding, the Twickenham venue and the on-screen presentations all incorporated the rugby theme to reinforce the idea of extraordinary teamwork. Add a partners’ choir, a party and 1,600 LED wristbands and the job was done!

Delegate Journey
The event ran across two days. Day 1 was for L1’s and day 2 was for L2’s, but L2’s arrived during the end of day 1 for an evening party for all 1,600 attendees. The schedule for each day was the same, so for the purposes of the delegate journey on this event submission we have focussed on day 1:

Pre-event: We encouraged a large number of attendees to take part in some filming to create the opening film for the start of the evening event on day 1 (the party element). We suggested the ‘vine’ approach which encourages participants to film themselves using their own technology, but the filming must last no longer than 7 seconds. We wanted delegates to answer two questions:
What is ‘Assurance’?
What is ‘Extraordinary’?

An instructional video was sent to all staff to help them understand what to do and how to film themselves. This was critical as we had already sent branded rugby balls to each office and we wanted delegates to catch and throw the ball during their filming!

Not only would this be the foundations for a memorable film, it also helped the delegates think about their event and cause some internal buzz.

On arrival the delegates pass the iconic Twickenham statue to the main entrance of the stadium which is branded with huge EY artwork and specific EY Extraordinary Assurance posters. Once through registration, the delegates were seated in the large Rose Suite for opening speeches, including an address from the Lead Partner.

As much of the content was quite personnel and engaging we convinced the client to present ‘in the round’ to ensure all members of the audience could get as close as possible to the stage and each speaker. With full rehearsal this worked very well and set the tone for the rest of the event.

The majority of the day was then centred on 4 staggered breakouts, all running between 60 and 90 minutes. Each breakout had their own core objectives and each environment needed to be carefully chosen and dressed appropriately to ensure the best learning conditions possible. Based around the theme, the breakouts were:
Extraordinary Careers
Extraordinary Demands
Extraordinary Teamwork
Extraordinary You

There were a variety of engaging presentations that encouraged audience participation and covered all of the event objectives to motivate, educate and inspire. They included:
Presentations and discussions from recent L1/L2’s and senior Partners
Discussion panels and debate
External speakers covering Thought Leadership, Motivational, Health and Wellbeing
Yoga instructors (in a Zen environment)
Live actors

The day ended with a wrap up in the Rose Suite for all delegates to discuss learnings with the Lead Partner, tie all aspects of the breakouts together to reflect career opportunities – and hint at what was to come in the evening session.

After a short break, L1 delegates made their way to a section of the stadium seating, joined by all L2 delegates, for the start of their evening showstopper.

During the day we built a large stage on pitch-side in front of a cordoned off area to seat all 1,600 delegates. On each seat was a pre-programmed LED wristband.

The evening spectacular made the most of the stadium’s lighting, giant LED screens, atmosphere and sound system. A 1-hour breath-taking show covered:
The Rugby Ball inspired opening film
An opening address from the Head of Assurance
A live EY Partner choir who only had 6 hours to rehearse with a choir master. This was followed by full interaction with all delegates for a follow up performance.
Celebrations of EY Assurance and the delegates
Digital engagement via the LED wristbands, shown on the Stadium’s LED screens.

Once the outside show had finished, all delegates were invited back into the stadium to end the day with a fantastic party across 4 unique spaces:
Live performance music bar
Games Room
Cocktail bar
Karaoke and Disco room

Overall Effectiveness

Post event, the surveys matched the enthusiasm onsite:

98% of delegates rated the event ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’
82% of delegates feel the event has helped their career development
87% of delegates expect to remain at EY in 2020