Competition for the best employees is intense, and the development of an employer's brand has been raised often in recent years. Companies have gained a wider understanding of the connection with an employer's brand with the success of an entire organisation, and how strategic activities to build a brand, also with students in mind, is both worthy of support and essential. Students are the experts of the future, and their professional skills are the topics of competition, and an increasing number of companies want students to see them as potential future employers.
In 2019, when EY-Parthenon started its strategy consultation activities as an independent brand as part of the extensive array of services offered by EY, it also wanted to launch brand promotion work among students. The goal has been to make students aware of the existence of the brand as an independent part of EY and to make the career possibilities offered by EY-Parthenon more visible to students.
Questionnaire and interviews used to study employer brand
Jasmin Kontinen and Neea Santama,master's students in Finance, tacked the project, under the guidance of doctoral candidate Axel Juslin. As part of the Customized Student Business Projects concept, the goal of the project was to answer three main questions. First, they wanted to ascertain how familiar the brand is among students, what kinds if mental images it brings, and what kinds of experiences students currently have about the company. The second goal is to find out how the EY-Parthenon employer brand is positioned compared to its closest competitors and why this should be the case. In addition, the students wanted to find ways to create a close contact between the company and the students and to offer recommendations for the upcoming brand promotion work.
To get answers to the questions, the students produced a questionnaire and interviewed students. In addition, they examined previous research material on the building of an employer brand among students and on feedback previously received by EY-Parthenon on student cooperation. Esa Tolonen, the partner responsible for EY-Parthenon's Finnish business operations, and senior consultant Markus Paunu were intensely involved in the project and provided valuable information for visualising the current status of the brand.
Valuable visions for EY-Parthenon's brand promotion work
During the project Jasmin and Neea were able to deepen their skills and knowledge of brand research on a practical level and to utilise their know-how in specialist work. They also gained concrete experience on project management and the development of effective communications among different stakeholders.
The first phase of the project, a quantitative battery of questions, went out to an extensive sampling of students. ‘It was interesting to see how knowledge of consultation brands varied among students at the different schools with different majors, but at the same time, the most favoured ways of communicating with companies were mostly in line with the entire sample,’ Neea and Jasmin say.
In the second phase the students interviewed 13 students from four different majors in the School of Business and the School of Science. ‘With interviews about an hour in length we were better able to extract views of successful and unsuccessful brand promotion communications and we heard the impressions that students had about EY-Parthenon.’
In the final phase the students concentrated both on analysing quantitative and qualitative results, and categorising the results in light of previous research data.
A report compiled at the conclusion of the project gave a comprehensive response to the main questions presented above and brought new knowledge and information to EY-Parthenon. ‘With the help of the project we were able to get a better grasp of students’ ways of thinking and on what they appreciate in work and how they see us as actors and potential employers. In addition, we gained valuable insight into how brand promotion work is worth doing among students and what kinds of marketing measures students like,’ says Esa Tolonen from EY-Parthenon.
‘Neea and Jasmin quickly understood the goals of the client and did excellent work to reach students, both for interviews, and for answering the questionnaire. The professional input of Jasmin and Neea was quite visible throughout the project. It was a real pleasure to serve as the academic director of the project,’ says Axel Juslin.