Talent 2015

Our latest blog comes from Chris, a trainee in Public Sector Assurance based in Birmingham.

Hi everyone! The aim of this blog is shed some light on the incredibly insightful, energetic and inspirational two days that was #Talent15. As mentioned in a previous blog post of mine, I joined Grant Thornton in June of this year as a new starter in Birmingham Public Sector Assurance (PSA). This meant I spent three months over the summer looking forward to Talent 15, as the induction event where I would get to know the rest of the new starters in Birmingham, as well as our national cohort of trainees.

To give some background — every year Grant Thornton hosts a national “Talent” event to welcome the new intake of graduates and school-leavers into the firm. Previous Talent events have involved luxurious hotels in London and river cruises down the Thames. This has led the event to gain a reputation for being the highlight of our first year as trainees… and I’m pleased to say that Talent 15 was certainly no exception!


Day One began with a morning in the Birmingham office spent finishing off some client work whilst counting down the hours until it was time to make our way to London. In high spirits, I met with the rest of the Birmingham trainees at New Street station to make the two-hour trip down to Twickenham Stadium. Before we knew it we arrived at the home of England Rugby to be escorted to none other the hospitality entrance of the stadium. After being given our VIP passes for the following two days, we were lead past the England changing rooms and out through the tunnel onto the pitch — whilst being handed a glass of champagne on the way!


The next hour or so was spent networking with the other 334 trainees who had all descended onto the pitch, accompanied by 70 event facilitators and several members of the Senior Leadership Team. There was a real buzz in the air as we exchanged our well-rehearsed “elevator pitches” and got to know our colleagues. I even had time to chat to our new CEO, Sacha Romanovitch in the England changing rooms about her views on Vision 2020 (as you do!).


After what we expected was already the highlight of the day, we were then led up the hospitality suite above the pitch where we were presented with a three course meal and a guest speech from none other than 2012 Paralympic gold medalist Richard Whitehead MBE (@Marathonchamp). As well as taking selfies with a queue of admiring trainees, Richard delivered a positive and inspirational speech on how we can “learn from failure and celebrate success”. The evening was then spent polishing off our plates of caramel cheesecake, connecting with our new colleagues over a glass of wine, and a healthy amount of competition on the ping pong tables in the foyer. Unsure of what lay in store for us the next day, we returned to our rooms at the hotel to unwind and reflect on the day.


In the spirit of the Rugby World Cup, Day Two began with a pep talk from our ‘coach’ Paul Naylor, who outlined the morning’s proceedings and introduced the speakers to follow. This included Head of Brand and Culture, Norman Pickavance, who brought to life Vision 2020 through a fascinating speech on how we, as trainees, fit into the future of shared enterprise. The following speaker, Kresse Wesling, then stole the show with a captivating speech on how “accountants will save the world” and the inspirational story behind her fire hose up-cycling business (@Elvisandkresse).


During the day, we also had the opportunity to take part in a variety of workshops and team building exercises. This allowed us to fully engage with the firm’s purpose and vision whilst considering how we as Grant Thornton employees can stretch ourselves to really make a difference. One topic of the workshop involved brainstorming ideas on how to drive a vibrant economy in a new world of innovation, connectivity and transparency.


Day Two ended with Sacha Romanovitch taking the stage to deliver a down-to-earth and honest account of her path from graduate to CEO. She also spoke about the importance of being true to your own path and that throughout our career we should aim to focus on celebrating our uniqueness rather than our sameness, which is a fantastic philosophy to live by. Something that Sacha said that really resonated with me was a quote from Ian Whybrow, which was “even if you’re a teeny tiny tic on the tail of a terrapin you can make a difference”. For me, this epitomises the message behind the vision for shared enterprise; everyone can make a difference to the future of our firm.


The two days at Talent 15 really made me realise how much Grant Thornton invests in its people. I left Twickenham on the Thursday evening feeling truly inspired by the stories I had heard and the people I had met, as well as feeling extremely proud to have joined such a forward-thinking firm.


If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or contact me on christopher.e.gale@uk.gt.com

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