The Ernst & Young Germany-Switzerland-Austria (GSA) practice boasts the largest and one of the oldest alumni networks within the firm’s Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) region. It’s also home to one of the firm’s fastest-growing alumni programs, currently expanding at a rate of 23% annually.
The heart of the GSA alumni program is its joint website: it features a separate page for each region while also allowing (and encouraging) members to access the other countries’ pages. This promotes networking in and among the region’s three countries. It’s not uncommon for alumni events in larger GSA cities such as Hamburg, Frankfurt or Zürich to draw upwards of 400 people.
This past August, Georg Graf Waldersee celebrated 30 years with the German firm. We talked to Georg about his long career, the success of the GSA organization and the region’s rich alumni culture.
Q: Tell us about your career
I am very thankful for the wealth of different experiences I have been able to gather over the course of these three decades. During my career, I have served large national and multinational capital market-oriented clients in audit and audit-related services, including management advisory, transaction services and corporate restructuring, among others.
Besides my work as a client server, I have served in a number of cross-country leadership roles over the years, such as Managing Partner in the legacy Nordic countries and Managing Partner — Client Service & Accounts in our legacy Cen-tral European Area.
These experiences have provided me with interesting challenges and unique opportunities in many ways. First and foremost, they have translated into the privilege of working with diverse, high-quality professionals and fantastic people globally.
Q: What are the latest success stories?
The economy in many parts of Europe is really feeling the impact of the Eurozone crisis. Companies are being very cautious about large transactions and are trying hard to reduce their costs, not least of which are for external service providers.
Yet we are winning in many of our market segments. A good example is our relationship with Volkswagen. Over the last years we have become their “trusted advisor,” and we are working together on many different issues, not only in Germany, but worldwide.
It is a real joy to serve as Senior Advisory Partner on this account as I can see how dedication, global teaming and true industry expertise really make a difference for our client. This is professionally very rewarding.
Q: The GSA practice has a very robust and active alumni program. Tell us about it.
There are multiple factors coming together. First, you should know that our German alumni program started more than 10 years ago, so we have a well-known and long tradition we are building on. Our oldest alumnus in Germany is 82 years old. He still comes to our events and loves them.
There are alumni who left the firm in the mid-’70s and they still enjoy meeting their colleagues at our alumni events after all these years. In our larger offices, we often have 400 or more participants. People are keen to come and meet their old colleagues, but it is also a great opportunity for them to tap into a network of great, talented people.