Project Platinum is an Accounting Sciences communication and public speaking project, sponsored by Ernst & Young, that focuses on improving the communication skills of accounting students through the first-year Communication Management Skills for Business and the Professions course. This is a compulsory course for all BCom students, but due to a rising interest in the importance of communication skills for professionals in the accounting field, Prof Johan Oberholster, Deputy Dean of Teaching and Learning, approached Ernst & Young to sponsor a project that could help students to better apply these communication skills.
Project Platinum was executed in three phases. Olebogeng Selebi, a lecturer from UP’s Communication Management Division, along with three representatives from Ernst & Young, sat on a five-day selection panel where 100 groups and almost 600 BCom Accounting Sciences students presented research on the application of activity-based costing, a topic provided by Prof Johan Oberholster. From this assessment, 10 of the best groups were selected to present before a panel consisting only of EY representatives.
In the second phase, the ten best groups were requested to present on the same topic, while taking into consideration the critique and advice they had received from the panel in the first phase of the competition.
The final phase, a prize-giving ceremony, took place on 28 October 2014, at Ernst & Young’s offices in Sandton.
Representing Accounting Sciences were Prof Johan Oberholster and Prof Henco van Schalkwyk. Representing Communication Management were Prof Ronél Rensburg and Olebogeng Selebi. Sean Kerr, Partner and Director at EY, was a keynote speaker at the event and spoke on the collaboration between financial sciences and communication management, as well as the importance of continuing partnerships between business and institutions of higher learning in producing competent graduates, skilled in communication.
Ernst & Young (EY) is one of the most integrated professional services organisation in mindset, actions and structure globally. It is also one of the most recognised brands in the fields of accounting and auditing. Its involvement in Project Platinum garnered student interest in communication management and increased their understanding on the importance of effective communication skills for university graduates. According to the second edition of EY’s Sub-Saharan Talent Trends and Practices Survey, a growing war for talent is emerging in Africa as African companies are recruiting to support their growth ambitions on the continent, yet vacancies are taking longer to fill and there is higher employee turnover across Africa. The survey also found that technical and professional skills in particular are in demand, with over a third of those surveyed saying that their demand for technical and professional skills was expected to grow over the next 12 months. Due to these findings, EY was the perfect strategic partner to execute this project and help graduates to develop better professional skills.