Mentoring The Next Generation
KPMG and UFSC Toronto Seek to
Empower Youth Through the Junior
Achievement of Central Ontario
There can be no continuity if young people are not involved in the development of an industry or product. This truth is abundantly clear to the members of UFSC Toronto and their member partner KPMG. For two years, they have jointly been involved with the Junior Achievement of Central Ontario (JACO) Company Program (CP) franchise.
With both organizations having a mandate to be involved in the community, members rolled up their sleeves in mentoring and teaching high school students about the intricacies of operating their own company. The Junior Achievement program has a succinct purpose, “To inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.” In Central Ontario, the UFSC Toronto and KPMG partnership is a part of that inspiration and preparation.
KPMG is a strong supporter of UFSC Toronto, not just within the Junior Achievement program, but other events as well. Believing in UFSC Toronto’s objective, KPMG also seeks to empower members of the minority community, within financial services. “The pillars that UFSC represent are very aligned with what KPMG believes; it is our own values,” says KPMG’s Ron Herry. Upon these pillars are built the foundation to provide exposure to students about KPMG and what they represent.
Investment in the community allows both organizations to fulfill their values, while allowing students to leverage resources of professionals that have expertise in business and accounting to mentor and train them at no cost. Not to be ignored or slighted, is the development of self confidence among JA participants because of the program.
Program advisor Jerry King points out that, “The unique feature of the KPMG/UFSC Toronto relationship is that, although one of a number of financial sponsorships, KPMG also contributed an operational component.” This is in addition to the JACO CP’s annual registration fee, providing a weekly meeting space and meals to all attendees that KPMG paid.
King says there was “a week-by-week commitment by KPMG personnel to be in the trenches alongside the UFSC Toronto members, involved in the planning and executing of CP.” As a professional services firm, a number of KPMG employees are also members of the UFSC Toronto, readily available to provide guidance to students. That direction zeroed in on the student company T-Change, a T-shirt company that provides “a unique spin on t-shirts.” Often, young people are unsure of what path to take in order to achieve their goals.
T-Change Board of Directors Chair, Amita Persad-Ford shares, “I have always been interested in the business industry, but I did not know a lot about it.” She joined the JA program “With a vague idea of what was needed to start a company from the ground up, but little did I know that I would be in for a real lesson.” Those lessons are many, and continue to be taught my men and women dedicated to preparing the next generation for success.
Jerry King notes that entrepreneurship hasn’t received the focus it deserves within Toronto’s communities, and it is time to change that. We want to change that.” If the UFSC Toronto/KPMG collaboration is any indication, change is coming. Of the 17 student-oriented and company awards handed out by JACO at its annual CP recognition ceremony, T-Change and its members were nominated in four categories and won in one (i.e. student Niklas Agarwal was chosen as the best VP of IT of the year).
There were 40 student companies in the Central Ontario region in 2011-2012. This was KPMG’s second year and by comparison, many of the other student companies that won awards were led by advisors who had anywhere from 6 to 10 years of experience with the JACO’s CP. Amita Persad-Ford sums it up best, “I leave T-Change with a thorough understanding of the struggles and pleasures of running a business.”