Vibrant economy: what does it all mean?

If someone asked you ‘what is the purpose of Grant Thornton?’ would you be able to answer them? You may think about audit or tax or other services offered by the firm…however the reality is a much bigger goal. Per the Grant Thornton website ‘our purpose is to shape a vibrant economy, and our vision is that by 2020 we will be the go-to firm for growth for dynamic organisations’. Doesn’t that sound impressive?! In this blog I hope to uncover a bit more about what the vibrant economy campaign means and how it has impacted on my role as a trainee in the Sheffield audit team.

Starting at the beginning…the whole idea of a vibrant economy stems from the need to unlock the potential of the UK to have more profitable businesses, lively communities and attractive cities. My understanding is that it is all about connecting people and encouraging people to work together to make our lives, both work and social, as great as they possibly can be. If you think about the economy we are not just talking about huge companies but governments, hospitals, schools, housing and transport to name a few. We are all aware of the tough times that the economy has been through – vibrant economy is about positively building a growing economy where we can all achieve.

So how is Grant Thornton involved? Over the next 18 months Grant Thornton is involved in running inquiries in cities across the UK to find out what it would take to build a vibrant economy in that location. It is clear that different cities have different strengths and weaknesses and it’s about connecting with and meeting with the people who can influence and shape the future of those cities and giving them the opportunity to collaborate to really make an impact.

Last week I was lucky enough to be part of the first city inquiry in Sheffield. The setting for the day was the Millennium Gallery at the heart of Sheffield. As I arrived in the morning my feelings, which I think were the same as many of my colleagues, were of excitement and anticipation. 200 invited guests from the business, public sectors and arts worlds poured in bringing their ideas of the future of Sheffield and how they could make an impact. The buzz in the room was phenomenal and everyone seemed really keen to participate.

My role was as a table host and therefore I spent the day helping the 8 people on my table have a conversation where they ‘dreamed and designed’ the future of Sheffield. The people on my table had a wide variety of backgrounds (business, public sector and arts) and therefore all were able contribute different ideas. The conversations were fascinating and mostly revolved around small businesses, transport, housing and the future of the City Centre. At the end of the day my group had to present their best idea to the rest of the room as well as a video presentation of their dream of Sheffield. The energy of the group and the passion about Sheffield was truly inspiring and I think it is invaluable to be able to join in with a conversation like this as part of an accountancy graduate programme.

The day was wrapped up by Sacha Romanovitch (the CEO of Grant Thornton) and Norman Pickavance (Head of People and Culture at Grant Thornton). I think everyone left feeling that something really special has begun and that, although it make take time, positive change in Sheffield can be achieved.

Overall I think this shows how unique and special Grant Thornton really is. I think the investment of time and people in events such as this really shows how everyone at the firm is encouraged to see the bigger picture. Although, I admit, returning to my laptop the next day to perform some audit testing seemed like a shock back to reality I am excited to see what happens next and the impact that the vibrant economy campaign will have.

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