Last year, Grant Thornton launched the Rotational Advisory Programme where associates work in the three main areas of the advisory practice over a period of three years. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to join the first group of Associates to undertake the programme in August, 2015.
I am originally from Norway. However, after completing my Bachelors degree in Business Administration, I decided to move to England and complete my Masters in Finance and Management at Essex Business School. I enjoyed my time in the UK so much, I decided to move to London and started working as a consultant for a financial software company. This role gave me a unique insight into the world of advisory from the outside. After just under two years in that role, I decided advisory was the place for me. The programme on offer at Grant Thornton promised to give me a unique blend of advisory experience no other firm was able to provide, so the decision was relatively easy.
I was a little nervous about starting another graduate programme as I expected I’d be the oldest person there. However, the group of associates was extremely mixed. In my associate pool there are people like me who have spent a few years working in other industries, people coming straight from University, and others who have had internships or placement years with the firm previously. It is quite fitting really that a programme offering such a range of different experiences is filled with people from so many different backgrounds.
My first rotation is in Business Consulting (BC); I have been in this team for just under a year now and will move on to my next rotation in December. BC was one of the teams that I was most excited about joining so I felt extremely lucky to have it as my first rotation. After a few weeks in the team I was staffed on my first project which was a cultural alignment assessment for two merging companies in the oil & gas industry. The aim of the project was to map the cultures of the two organisations highlighting key strengths, risks and opportunities. I am still currently working on my second project, a business transformation for a healthcare services business. This project is changing the way in which the organisation operates by implementing an extremely innovative solution.
As an Associate, the bulk of the work we do is the analysis of the numbers, so you really get a great understanding of what is happening in the organisations. However, I have also spent a lot of time on site, working directly with the employees, really getting to know the business and industry. The main objective for a first year Associate in consulting is to be able to take your analysis and paint a picture which tells the story you are looking to convey. A major difference between consulting and the other rotations is the amount of time spent travelling. When staffed on a project you are on client site 4 days a week, spending most Fridays in the office catching up with the rest of the team. The constant travel can be tiring at times, but exploring new cities during the week and coming back home to London for the weekend is nothing to complain about really.
The programme gives its associates a choice between a range of different professional qualifications; like many others, I have chosen the ACA. The biggest challenge I have faced this year is without a doubt juggling very demanding work with equally demanding studies. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to motivate myself to get my books out and study while sitting on a rammed train from Manchester to London on a Thursday night. I think the fact that the work we do in advisory is not directly linked to accounting or tax gives associates here an extra challenge as we don’t necessarily get a great deal of exposure to these things at work. At the end of the day it is all about prioritising your time and being disciplined.
This is the first of possibly a few more blog posts I will be publishing during my three years in the programme. If you have any questions about the programme, or suggestions for content in my next post please do not hesitate to leave a comment or email me here.