For taking radical steps to improve corporate culture
Michael Fenlon is the global talent leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers (now known as PwC), the world’s largest professional services firm by revenue and a major recruiter of new college graduates (more than 45% of its U.S. staff are recent college grads). In a competitive landscape that too often tries to appeal to millennials through superficial means (e.g., free dry cleaning and kombucha), Fenlon has helped shift the company’s focus to have more real impact for employees.
In 2015, Fenlon led the development of PwC's student loan program, which gives eligible employees up to $1,200 per year toward their student debt; the firm will pay down up to as much as $10,000 of debt per employee, reducing their repayment period by up to three years. With U.S. student debt estimated at $1.3 trillion, the company sees it as necessary for today’s companies to ease that burden in order to help seed tomorrow’s leaders and innovators, a corporate social responsibility.
The loan paydown program serves as a powerful tool not only for recruitment, but also for retention, since current qualifying employees can be grandfathered into it. Previously, Fenlon served as an associate dean of Columbia Business School, where he focused on executive leadership on a top-ranked MBA program. With a PhD in psychology (also from Columbia, where he studied to become a clinical therapist), Fenlon has worked to apply these leadership and empathy skills at PwC.