KPMG Ireland just completed a programme called ‘KPMG Ignite’ aimed at empowering young women by improving their self-confidence. The firm linked with the Jesus and Mary School in Goatstown targeting 30 transition year students from the school. The initiative exposed the students to female role models and helped participants to maximize their individual potential and grow their confidence. A series of four workshops were hosted by KPMG volunteers, who were a source of support throughout the programme, answering questions and facilitating group activities.
Each week guest speakers across a wide variety of industries, from entrepreneurship to healthcare and business to STEM spoke to the students about their individual journeys, in doing so, instilling confidence in the girls that they have the ability to succeed in their chosen area of interest. Speakers included: Cora Murphy, Co-Founder of The Care Team; Leonora O’Brien, CEO of Pharmapod; Marissa Carter, founder of Cocoa Brown; Emer Finnan, Senior Managing Director Kildare Partners; and Gillian Kelly, Partner, KPMG.
Each of the first three workshops had a key theme at its core: confidence, network building and maximising individual potential. After each guest speaker, the workshops focused on the chosen themes and had interactive role plays and hands-on activities that reinforced the messages with the six groups of five participants. The participants each had to design a Confidence Shield where they had to articulate their strengths, talents and things they liked about themselves and focus on those. They discussed the importance of self-image, building their personal brand, managing their ‘chimp’ (the negative voice in all our heads), the importance of communication, eye contact, body language, listening, getting them to list their priorities in life (study, family, friends, sport, social life, hobbies, etc) and setting goals about things within those priorities that they wanted to focus on. Each of the six groups of participants were supported by KPMG volunteers who worked with them closely over the four workshops and were a great source of support for the groups, answering questions, facilitating group activities and reinforcing key themes.
The Ignite Programme culminated in a presentation session, where each group presented on the key messages they have taken from the programme.
After completing the Ignite programme, 100% of the students said they found the workshops beneficial and enjoyable. All of them also said that the programme boosted their confidence with 57% saying that they strongly agreed that their confidence had vastly improved. 75% of participants felt that the programme inspired them to achieve whatever they set out to and that they could reach their full potential.
Some feedback from the students included: “Working with KPMG has taught me to ignore that little voice in my head telling me that I’m not good enough. I now know that if I am committed and believe in myself I can do anything. All of the speakers that have come in and the KPMG volunteers have helped me to see my full potential. I know that I can fake it till I become it and every single person out there who has achieved great things started out like me today. Before the workshop I would have given myself a 4/10 I’m confidence, I would now give myself an 8/10”
“My name is Aislinn and I’m 16 years old. When I first heard that I was chosen for a KPMG workshop I immediately became anxious to attend. However I went anyway to try it out and I don’t regret it one bit. Before the programme I wasn’t very confident at all really, probably a 4/10, but then I surprised myself and found myself joining in more and more in the group each week. Listening to the speakers and doing activities in a group environment pushed me a bit further out of my comfort zone. After the programme I would rate my confidence as 7/10”.
The KPMG Ignite programme was the winning project from the firm’s Project Bright competition and the team who won worked with both the Head of CSR and the KPMG Business School to develop the programme and managed the logistics of its implementation. Karina Howley, Head of CSR & Diversity said, “This is another fantastic example of our staff engaging in something that they are passionate about and coming up with a creative, hands-on solution to address the issue that many young women lack confidence and belief in their abilities. This fits in well with our own internal focus in KPMG on Gender Diversity and encouraging more females to reach their full potential within the firm.”
Pictured above the winning team behind KPMG Ignite programme – Lauren Kelly, Ailbhe Molloy, Sophie Morris and Killian Higgins.