One of the most important things for me of working at a large firm such as Grant Thornton is the opportunities that are presented to you. From my induction at Talent 12, I remember our CEO, Scott Barnes, telling us that we are all responsible for shaping our own future. I feel the way each of us can best do this is to work extremely hard along the way and continue to look to challenge ourselves.
My advice for all trainees is…
…to be interested and intrigued – talk to your colleagues and understand the clients they are working on or the issues their clients are facing. Once you have identified which clients or specific industries interest you, then communicate this to your line manager who can accommodate your interest and plan for you to work with these, or similar clients. In doing so, your daily work will become more exciting and meaningful to you, encouraging you to take ownership and initiative. By showing initiative you will find you are in a much better situation to really get to know your client and begin to add value.
Trainees at Grant Thornton are encouraged to take on responsibility from the start. My next bit of advice is to be confident when faced with new situations and always be willing to learn. I was once told ‘If you never ask why, then things stay the same’ and this has stuck with me through my training period. Starting work with little accounting knowledge can be daunting at first, however with the supportive nature of everyone at Grant Thornton asking questions is encouraged, allowing you to understand and embrace the responsibility that is given to you. I have now been at Grant Thornton for a year and am beginning to in-charge audits. This involves developing a whole new set of skills, such as planning the key issues to be dealt with during the audit and supervising and coaching more junior trainees during the fieldwork. This is a new opportunity for me and makes my day job more varied and challenging but also more rewarding. By asking the right questions at the right times I feel well equipped to take the next step as an ‘in-charge’.
From a social side of things, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with and even to organise events yourself. For me there are two benefits of such social plans. Not only are good food and drink often consumed, but these events also allow us to develop trusting relationships with colleagues and to establish some common ground to build a rapport – all of which allow us to collaborate further in the future. Recently I received an invitation to attend the Southampton office annual golf event which is attended by existing and prospective clients. I enthusiastically accepted my invitation and on the day was able to meet and socialise with a wide-range of diverse local business owners. To understand their business and the issues they are facing was an eye-opener, however having met client staff from my next audit in a social situation and shared some laughs over a few missed putts, this has given me the confidence to hit the ground running when the audit comes around and to have deeper conversations. My advice is to get involved – we work hard as a team and it is important to have fun as a team. By taking the opportunity to laugh together, when work does build up, we are all willing to go the extra-mile for each other.
At Grant Thornton there are plenty of opportunities internally. During my time in the Southampton office I have seen a colleague go on secondment to Sydney as well as two qualified executives relocate to the London Finsbury office where they will begin their careers in Corporate Finance and Forensic and Investigation Services. It is important to always be thinking about your next step, what interests you most and where you can best add value both to yourself and to your clients. Challenge yourself, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and remember to keep asking questions along the way.
For further insights into what I get up to as a trainee, or if you would like to ask me a direct question, find me on twitter : @GT_SeanM.