Andy, are you a rugby fan and do you have a favourite rugby player? Whose rugby player’s career do you want your Grant Thornton career to resemble, and why?
Amazingly, not only am I an accountant, I’m also a massive rugby fan. The Six Nations closely rivals Christmas and the Summer for my favourite time of the year, despite the inevitable moment when you realise England will finish 2nd…again. My favourite rugby player ever simply has to be Jonny Wilkinson, a beautiful player and just a once in a generation fly-half. I don’t think I would hear the end of it if I said my Grant Thornton career resembled him! As a result I would say my career is probably modelled on that of Danny Cipriani, like him, I’ve moved about a fair bit (started in the Bristol Public Sector Audit (PSA) team, moved to the London PSA team and am currently on secondment in the Business Consulting team within Corporate Finance) and like him at the moment, I need to continue working on my game to ensure selection. Fortunately, unlike Danny I have managed to avoid negative press from the tabloids in recent years!
Tell us a little bit about you….
I studied Business Management with Marketing at Cardiff University, an interesting place to study for an England rugby fan! I had studied Business since I was 14 and I liked the idea of a degree that doesn’t limit your career options, much like an accountancy qualification, in fact.
Why did you choose the London Euston Office?
I actually didn’t, I started in Bristol before moving to the Euston office after a year and a half. I’ve been fortunate in this regard to meet and work with so many people from a variety of backgrounds but ultimately London always appealed to me as a city to work in and I have enjoyed every minute.
Are you studying for a professional qualification? What is college like?
I am currently studying for my final two exams which will make me a Chartered Public Financial Accountant this Summer. Going to college is great, the classes are relatively small and don’t just provide a platform for learning new content but is also a great chance to catch up with my year’s trainee intake as most of the time we are on client site in various parts of the South-East.
What is the application process like? What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying to Grant Thornton England?
I found the application process remarkably smooth and efficient. The online forms, tests and telephone interview were pretty much in line with what I was expecting and what appears to be industry standard. After this I was invited to an assessment centre which I was predictably nervous about, but the atmosphere was actually an enjoyable one and it is great to meet a range of employees and pick their brains regardless of whether they are partners or trainees at the firm.
The advice I would give to someone applying to the London office would be to apply early, very early! I would also say that it has never been more important to differentiate yourself, there has never been such a large pool of talent looking for graduate schemes and training contracts so it is vital you try and display what is unique about yourself and what you can bring to the table that others can’t.
Could you describe your office, what makes it special?
I currently work in the London Finsbury Square office which provides more advisory based services as opposed to Euston which is primarily for audit and tax work. I have only been here for 6 weeks so far but I have really enjoyed it. It is a bit more spacious than Euston and the variety of food options available are scary! I’m also lucky in that I have plenty of friends who work in the Moorgate/Bank area so have been able to catch up with people I have not seen in a while. Moving to London from Bristol has made it less awkward at work immediately before and after an England-Wales rugby game as there are fewer Wales fans!
As I mentioned I am currently on secondment to the Business Consulting team, this is a relatively new team but it has grown exponentially in the last couple of years and is now about 70 people strong. It is a unique department in that everyone I have met so far seems to have a very different background not just academically but in their professional career and it has been great to learn about their pathway to this team and any advice they may have for my career.
What are the career opportunities on offer post-qualification?
The career opportunities post-qualification are one of the many reasons I chose the accountancy route. The options are extremely diverse and if anything there really are too many to choose from as you near qualification. I am very lucky in that I have been able to get a taster of another team internally and it is one of the many strengths of the firm that I have been able to do this without compromising commitments made within the Public sector audit team.
Can you describe a typical day for a trainee? What do you enjoy most about it?
It’s a very predictable response but there really is no such thing as a typical day! I have worked on clients in very different financial circumstances, very different durations of work and with very different team members. This is just a small example of the variety in the job, and what I have probably enjoyed the most in the last 3 years is being able to work with and learn from so many different people in different departments and offices.
Which clients do you normally work with/do they differ to other offices?
In Public sector audit, I tend to work with large NHS institutions, local councils, pension funds and occasionally charitable funds. This was the same in Bristol and in London, the only real difference being in London the organisations tend to be larger and therefore often more high profile and mentioned in national press more regularly.
In my brief experience in Business Consulting I have worked with a real range of organisations including some of the largest private equity houses in the world, blue chip conglomerates and all the way down to small government agencies, so a real mixture!
Can you describe any other exciting opportunities you can get involved in?
A constant theme you will find at Grant Thornton is that there is scope to get involved in as much as you want to. No matter what level of experience you would think would be required, you can almost certainly be a part of it. I have been fortunate enough to help out with graduate recruitment, business development work, and the ultimate honour of writing on behalf of the Spilling The Beans team among other things.
Do you collaborate with other Grant Thornton offices (UK and abroad)?
I am still in contact with a number of colleagues from the Cardiff office from my South-West days and like with most people I’ve met since I joined Grant Thornton in 2013, they are always happy to pick up the phone and help when I get in touch. It’s always surprising just how many people there are to call upon when needing information/expertise on a piece of work and you thought you would never find the answer.
If you could do a secondment, which Grant Thornton office would you choose and why? Would it be any of the Six Nations?
If it had to be a Six Nations venue it would be Dublin. I saw Brian O’Driscoll’s last ever game there a couple of years ago and am desperate to go back, and I can only assume that the Dublin office know how to hold a social! Otherwise, I’d like to go on secondment to Australia, I’m lucky enough to have an Australian passport and watching it get dusty while it rains in London can be very upsetting!
Editor’s note: In case you want more interesting blogs to read, here’s a link to Andy’s amazing blog about the rugby world SharpLinesRugby.tumblr.com