Accelerate-ing Through the Ranks

When Rhys asked me to write a guest blog for Spilling the Beans, I was really excited, my follow up question was ‘how long does it have to be’, when he replied I was slightly concerned I wouldn’t meet the quota. However, once I began thinking through my 7 years at Grant Thornton I started to think that actually I may not be able to fit it all in…

I’m Mel and I joined Grant Thornton in September 2006 as an Audit Accelerate Trainee. I joined straight after my A-levels and made the most of my last summer before full time employment with a girls holiday to Malia – which was rather messy so I won’t go into details! After 4 years I was a fully qualified chartered accountant, which I have to admit I was really proud to achieve at the age of 22. Following another 2 years working (exceptionally hard) in audit I was promoted to Assistant Manager. Then after a challenging year in this role I was promoted to Audit Manager in October this year!

Being honest I don’t think I fully understood what I was getting myself into when I joined Grant Thornton back in 2006, it started with an induction in the office and then down to Bradenham Manor for a residential workshop. We were worked hard during the day but encouraged to socialise in the evenings, which was a fantastic opportunity to meet the new joiners across the firm. Following Bradenham it was straight out on audit and to my amazement I was let loose on clients pretty much from day one! During my first few months I got the opportunity to work on a range of clients across a number of sectors. The majority of these assignments involved working out on site at client premises with an audit team, who would provide on the job training and support to ensure I understood the work I was carrying out. Thinking back now I am always surprised that this did not seem daunting to me at the time – being trusted to speak to clients and being responsible for audit work – the reason for this was the support that I was given during these early stages, which made it all seem a lot less intimidating.

When I started college I had the opportunity to speak to other Accelerate trainees from other accountancy firms and was surprised to hear that not all firms give equal opportunities to their graduate and accelerate trainees. At Grant Thornton trainees are trainees, whether joining from university or on the Accelerate programme – the work I was given was equal to that of the graduate trainees I joined with. Throughout my studies I understood the importance of balancing work, studies and home life – this required dedication and hard work and I had to accept that I might have to say no to some requests from friends for a night out, but I always felt supported at work to be able to strike this balance. When I received my final results that said I had passed and was a fully qualified chartered accountant it made every ounce of hard work worthwhile – and I have to admit I still get a bit overwhelmed when I think back to the moment I received my results text message from the Institute!

Following a well-earned  holiday post qualification, I enjoyed a year of being able to fully concentrate on work without any college commitments. This allowed me to get to grips with my role as an Audit Executive, running onsite fieldwork assignments and reporting back to the Audit Manager. Then I started to focus on the next steps and where I wanted to be in my career in the following year, 2 years and longer term. I spoke to my line manager at the time, who has been an inspiration to me throughout my career to date, and we discussed what was needed to push to that next level. What has always struck me with Grant Thornton is that the support is always there when you need it but you have to make things happen yourself and push for your own personal development within the firm. After a year of hard work I was promoted to Assistant Manager, which felt like a massive achievement. I continued to focus on the requirements for the next level and after a year of working even harder than the previous year I was promoted to Audit Manager this October.

I don’t think I really took the time to understand what this meant at the time of my promotion and this came to light on the recent ‘Stepping up to Manager’ conference that I attended on 25 November. This conference was arranged by Grant Thornton in London for all those people across the firm that had been promoted to manager in the past year to celebrate our success. The speakers at the conference were an inspiration and they all had some fantastic tips to help us in our new roles. The main thing that stood out from the day was that this was a milestone in our careers that needed to be celebrated. This made me really take a step back and recognise my achievement of becoming an Audit Manager at the age of 25, after joining Grant Thornton as an Audit Accelerate Trainee 7 years ago.

To finish, I will leave you with this… I recently interviewed for a summer intern position and at the end of the interview I asked the candidate if they had any questions for me. They asked me ‘What is the best and worst thing about working for Grant Thornton?’ – it was a very thought provoking question. I firstly thought about the best thing and a number of answers came to mind, such as the training programme, the lovely new offices in Birmingham but I decided the best thing is the people – when you are having a busy day or having to work long hours, coming into the office and speaking to the people you work with makes a real difference and you always feel fully supported in what you are doing. For the worst thing about working at Grant Thornton, I thought long and hard and guess what, I couldn’t think of anything…

(Another school leaver success story can be found here: http://traineeblog.grant-thornton.co.uk/2014/06/17/school-leaver-to-senior-manager/)

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