It’s Tuesday, the first day of Talent 15. It’s around 8:30am. Actually, it’s around 8:27am. You know what? Let’s call it as it is: it’s 8:27am exactly. I know that for sure. I’ve been turning my phone over in my hands ever since I got on the train at Stourbridge Junction to head into the Birmingham office, clocking every single minute.
All of this because I’m 33 minutes away from delivering exactly the same introductory talk for our 2015 trainees as I gave to our 2014 cohort, ahead of my second Talent event (the introduction for new starters to the firm) in two years.
Presenting myself has always been my blind-spot, my unknown – it takes me well and truly out of my comfort zone, but because of that, I get such a kick out of it. That wasn’t always the case.
Flash back a year to the day. I’m about to embark on my career as a Commercial Audit trainee here at Grant Thornton. It’s the morning of Talent 14 and I’m doing many of the same activities that this year’s trainees did in their first week. The 30-second, ‘this is me in a nutshell’ Elevator Pitch – ‘Hi. I’m Dan. I’m in Commercial Audit. I don’t really know what Commercial Audit is…how have I still got 20 seconds left?!’ Learning how to introduce myself to people by noticing something about their appearance – ‘Nice to meet you, Tom. You’re very…pale.’ All genuine utterances that came from my mouth that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in an episode of ‘I’m Alan Partridge’.
I was enjoying the event – the dinner the night before was fantastic and it was great to hear from our then CEO, Scott Barnes, as well as a number of representatives from the different regions, but the prospect of presenting myself again in the afternoon genuinely terrified me.
Halfway through Talent and I was the only one struggling…except I wasn’t. Lunch came around and I had a chance to get to know more of my colleagues. The topic of conversation at our table? How challenged everyone felt, how a lot of these experiences were completely fresh and frightening to everyone and how they were loving every moment.
That was when it changed for me. That is what makes Talent such a special event and, for me, what makes Grant Thornton such a great place to work. Whether you’re reading this as a partner, as a trainee or as someone looking to kick-start your career, know that.
Something that our current CEO, Sacha, said at Talent 15 stuck with me: ‘When you are passionate about something, the impossible starts to look possible.’ When I look back on Talent 14 and I key into that memory of us all sat around the table at lunch talking about how we all felt out of our comfort zone, passion is what I see. That passion for collaboration and sharing that the new generation of graduates and school leavers have come to represent. That passion that our firm is really starting to tap into. That passion that, we believe, could be key to the future of a vibrant global economy.
Thanks to my colleagues, suddenly the afternoon of Talent 14 didn’t faze me half as much. I started to relish the activities and I started getting to get a kick out of them. I felt engaged and inspired and this came to be something that carried right through my experience here to this very day.
It’s 9am on the first morning of Talent 15 and I’m still feeling those knots in my stomach. It’s a year on from my own induction experience and I’m now presenting as a member of our Trainee Recruitment Team (my journey there from commercial audit, a story for another time…). I’m walking into a room full of some of this year’s trainees on their second day at Grant Thornton. I can hear them sharing their experiences so far, much the same as my cohort did the year during that lunch, and any of the nerves I’d had just half an hour ago disappeared in. This the reason I work here.