Jump into Diversity

Hi, my name is Jessica and I work in the Assurance department in the swanky new Cambridge office!

I was keen to write a blog for the award winning ‘Spilling the Beans’ site, firstly because I think the site is innovative and breaks the mould within the industry – I used it myself when I was applying. Secondly because I think it is important to emphasise to candidates applying that no degree, background, age or experience is conventional when you start out at Grant Thornton. I didn’t join through what you might expect to be the ‘normal’ route straight from university. I completed a history degree and then was a marketer of events in Central London for two and a half years before gaining my training contract at Grant Thornton at the ripe age of 25 (26 in a few months, aaah!). I made the career jump because I wanted to broaden my experience and learn about all aspects of business, not just marketing. I was convinced that my age and prior experience would make me ‘the odd one out’….

?but having recently attended Talent 12 (The National Induction for all new starters) in London, I realised I couldn’t have been more wrong if I’d tried! I was quickly refreshed and inspired by the huge array of graduates amongst the 250+ intake this year. There are trainees of all ages and backgrounds. There are people who have come straight from university having never worked before but there are also people who have had successful careers before embarking on a new career within accountancy. Francesca Lagerberg, Head of Tax in the UK, summed up the diversity within the conference room at the induction when she listed professional athletes, actors and sailors amongst the mix. So, what did I learn from Talent 12? That it is never too late to change direction in order to learn more and broaden your experience!

It was the range of experiences of the speakers and partners at Talent 12 rather than their conventionality which also struck me. Amongst the diversity they had to bring to Grant Thornton was 18 months travelling round the world, a stint as a professional artist in New Zealand, time living in Paris, time as a housewife, time running their own business, time within industry and time on secondments around all aspects of the firm, including Bradenham Manor, our training centre. At Grant Thornton there is no need to ‘fit the mould’ because there really isn’t one and I saw this first hand at Talent 12. The employee body is comprised of a mixture of very diverse people who all have something different to offer. The importance of this diversity and individuality was emphasised at Talent 12, time and time again, because ultimately it is individuals who colleagues and clients want to liaise with. Just as ‘Spilling the Beans’ breaks the mould and presents individual experiences like mine, so too does the graduate intake at Grant Thornton each year.

Making a career jump is by no means easy, in fact it is probably the toughest decision I have ever had to make, but I know that it is the right decision! Through my training I can now build upon the experiences I have already gained within an environment where I can and am encouraged to continually gain new experiences. So, if you are thinking about a career jump and feel wary of doing so, please don’t, as everyone’s doing it!

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