Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Does Virtual Connection Lead to Real Life Connection?

Recruiting new accountants on campus is a tough and competitive job these days, even if you’re working for KPMG. So it comes as no surprise the firm seeking to connect with professors via a new Web portal: kpmgfacultyportal.com.

Looking at the equation from the other side, the rising use of adjunct professors (who are renowned for spreading themselves thin commuting to several different campuses to teach a variety of classes) makes it more likely those teaching accounting will welcome KPMG’s help in creating courses, keeping up with accounting news and accessing KPMG research and resources. The company will even send a local accounting professional over to help with course work it’s created such as last fall’s “The Ethical Compass - A Toolkit for Integrity in Business.”

I asked three academics what they thought of the site. “Most of the firms seem to have some kind of web-based material for faculty. This one may be unique—but also, may not be much different from the others,” said Kathleen D. Lowman, director, MAC Career Services for the Kenan-Flagler Business School at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Shannon Mulally, who directs the MAC program at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., thought the site was worthy of a mention on our blog. (See how well we listen?)

Peter Rea, chair of the department of business administration at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, pointed out these types of sites are beneficial. But in true professorial fashion, he added a few caveats:

(1) Marketing 101 tells us the number of these portals is increasing, so providers need to define the customer and their associate needs, wants and values clearly. In thoughtful portals like KPMG, this is usually the case.

(2) Connection should not be confused with community. We live in a world that is connected, but being wired is not synonymous with creating a community. At a time when employers are trying to create an “engaged workforce” and innovators are looking for creative cultures, engaged leaders understand relationships cannot be replaced by a portal.

Judge the new KPMG portal for yourself at: kpmgfacultyportal.com.

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