Tag Archives: Opportunities

Being an in-charge at Grant Thornton

“The price of greatness is responsibility” – Winston Churchill

Having now been at Grant Thornton for over a year and a half, one of my objectives this year was to in-charge a small audit before Christmas. So a few weeks ago I had my first in-charge job – objective…Tick!

So OK, being an in-charge is not quite on Winston Churchill’s levels of ‘responsibility’… Read this post

#WWYAB – Seizing Opportunities

One of the most important things for me of working at a large firm such as Grant Thornton is the opportunities that are presented to you. From my induction at Talent 12, I remember our CEO, Scott Barnes, telling us that we are all responsible for shaping our own future. I feel the way each of us can best do this is to work extremely hard along the way and continue to look to challenge ourselves.

My advice for all trainees is…

Read this post

#WWYAB – Networking

When I joined the Southampton office I made the short trip from Portsmouth as I relocated into a one bedroom flat in the city centre. Having gone to Loughborough University, when I moved to Southampton I knew no one in the city. This was a daunting experience but I looked forward to setting myself up in a new place.

A great advantage of working for a firm of this size is that for the most part, on your first day, you’re joined by several other trainees. For me, I started on the same day as three auditors so already there were people in a similar position to me.

A social life at Grant Thornton is encouraged and I’m frequently meeting up with colleagues as part of my non-working life. However, I can’t hide the fact that I’m keen to meet people outside of these walls from other areas of the city. Read this post

Unleashing Your Potential

Throughout my time at university, I found myself constantly looking forward to when I would have a career. The very nature of university is such that a student sacrifices several years of earning potential to better themselves academically in the long run. Whilst I had accepted this from the off, I couldn’t wait to get started on my career.

Over the last two years with Grant Thornton, I miss certain aspects of my student life, but the current focus, challenge and structure to my days are something I would struggle to live without now. Something I have learnt about myself recently is that this focus and structure may have had a detrimental effect on who I am.

Doing the job, the exams and the hours can make it easy to lose track of the big picture. With less time to think about where I’m going to be in a few years time I found that I had started to bury my head in the sand and just get on with the number crunching of being a tax adviser – I had lost my view of the future.

So a recent conference for me was well timed. Once trainees are nearing the end of their training contracts the firm welcomes them to a conference to see what is next in their careers. As a trainee who is some six months away from qualifying, I was invited to the conference – Unleashing Your Potential – which was held in a fancy hotel in Windsor.

The event itself was run by our national leadership board, who gave their insight into what they did and how they did it to get to where they are now. Some guest speakers and other rising stars gave us a few tricks of the trade on how to get on in the firm. Getting these kind of hints are invaluable and, if used wisely, I’m convinced can be the key to unlocking the potential we all have, but don’t necessarily always access.

Leading up to the event, my expectation was that I would be able to get all my questions on the future answered – three days later and I just have more questions and a lot of food for thought.

I took a number of key points away with me and have reaffirmed my eyes forward approach to my career. A significant lesson to learn was that at Grant Thornton we must all take responsibility for our own careers. Hearing the stories of the firm’s brightest and best showed clearly that nothing is given; it’s all earned through hard graft, desire and vision.

I guess this is an important lesson for anyone, whether they be in the firm, aspiring to join Grant Thornton or just aiming to get good grades in their A Levels or degree.

I often speak with people who are looking to join the firm and my best advice to them (that’s probably you) is to make the decision and throw everything and the kitchen sink at it. In the current economic climate, sitting on the fence just won’t do, and at every moment it’s imperative you can prove to the employer, examiner or interviewer that you want the next opportunity more than the next person.

For me, I still need to digest the information I have received and firm up my ideas for what I will do post-qualification. It’s easy to put it off until I have actually finished the exams, but anything that’s easy isn’t worth writing home about…

Watch this space!

Secondment to the Outback

As many trainees at Grant Thornton approach their third year with the firm, our exams are nearly over and that elusive qualification creeps even closer. With so many options available to newly qualified trainees at Grant Thornton, good planning can give a plenty of trainees an insight into the international network and potential prospects of working all over the world.

As an audit executive in from our Cambridge office, I was in this situation in late 2010 when I became aware of a three-month secondment opportunity in Sydney, Australia.

Having qualified with an ACA, I wanted to further my career but also found myself with the desire to travel. This secondment presented me with the opportunity to do both. I travelled to the Sydney office to work in the Australia member firm’s audit team over their busy season where I worked alongside six other secondees from the UK, USA and France.

The hours were long but there was plenty going on within the firm from a social point of view, so we definitely experienced all that the great city had to offer. Both the Rugby World Cup sweepstake (taken incredibly seriously) and month-end drinks were particular highlights.

Following my time in Sydney, I was given a further three-month sabbatical during which I travelled across south-east Asia to finish off my secondment in style!

Having had this experience, I can’t recommend the secondment programme highly enough. As trainees in the firm, you are able to learn how to apply and link to a listing of global opportunities on the intranet. Alternatively, you can raise your interest to work abroad and our dedicated team in London will find a bespoke role fitting to your desires.

Joining Grant Thornton – before and after

I joined Grant Thornton last Tuesday as a graduate trainee in the Actuarial department, based in our London Finsbury Square office. Last week was a busy week with a local orientation in my department followed by Talent12. However, my journey with Grant Thornton began long before Talent12.

Back in October 2010 I attended a careers fair at Manchester University, where I was studying Maths. After endlessly traipsing around careers fairs, a familiar feeling for soon-to-be graduates, I reflected upon the companies that I had met and for me, Grant Thornton stood head and shoulders above the rest. The people I met seemed so enthusiastic and excited about their job, and that’s exactly how I wanted to feel when talking about my own job in the future. I decided Grant Thornton was the perfect firm for me, if only they would have me!

I managed to secure myself a place on the summer internship programme in 2011 and subsequently a graduate role. I felt so lucky to have a graduate job already secured for after my final year of university. Having this weight off my shoulders I decided to take on the campus ambassador role. This involved promoting campus events around the University of Manchester (incidentally, putting posters up around the whole university was probably the most exercise I’d done all year) as well as organising a Christmas careers evening, which was basically an excuse for us all to get in the festive mood with an abundant supply of mulled wine and mince pies!

So after a fantastic final year of university, and an exciting summer spent living well beyond my means (trying to make the most of my last ever three month long summer break), here I am, just over a week into my career with Grant Thornton.

The last week or so has been a whirlwind of meeting new people, taking office inductions and trying to get used to waking up at 6.30am every morning, a time of day I haven’t seen in an extremely long time. But what has stood out the most was the Talent12 national induction. Around 230 new starters at Grant Thornton descended upon London for the two day event, which involved giving us trainees a clear understanding of the firm’s brand promise and the direction the firm is heading. There were inspiring talks from members of the firm’s National Leadership Board and workshops to help us understand our part to play in the firm’s strategy. Having said this, Talent12 certainly wasn’t all work. In the evening, we got on board a huge boat and cruised along the River Thames, sipping champagne, enjoying a delicious three course meal and making use of the free bar and time to meet other new starters from different offices and departments. The key thing that I took away from Talent12 is a strong understanding of the brand promise. What struck me most was how much the firm must value its employees, considering the amount of time, effort and money that must have gone into organising such a brilliant event. I will certainly look back on those two days with fond memories.

And what’s next? In the coming months I am looking forward to learning more about my new job as an Actuarial Analyst and continuing my involvement with the Manchester alumni team. The role of the Manchester campus ambassador has been passed on to an intern from this summer’s intake, but I will continue to be involved in the organising, promoting and attendance of careers events at the university. I am excited at the prospect of meeting bright new talent and encouraging them to join the firm as I believe this will be a major driving force if Grant Thornton is to continue to grow and flourish.

So, although I have only just begun my career here at Grant Thornton, I feel that my part to play within the firm began long before, and has already presented me with a fantastic array of opportunities and unique experiences. I already feel as though I belong here.

National Trainee Induction – Talent12

View from the Thames river cruise

View from the Thames river cruise

Last week Grant Thornton hosted their national trainee induction for the 2012 intake – Talent12 – at the Tower Hotel in London. One of our current first year trainees, Rajiv had the opportunity to act as a facilitator at the event. In his blog he tells us about his experiences and what you can expect when you join Grant Thornton as a trainee.

Hi, I’m Rajiv and I work in the Entrepreneur & Private Client tax department in London. After only a year at Grant Thornton as a graduate, I was asked to be a facilitator on the Grant Thornton national induction, ‘Talent12’.

The event consisted of inspirational talks from members of the National Leadership Board, break out sessions for the trainees to further their understanding of the business, a Thames river cruise in the evening for the trainees to put their networking skills to the test and also an opportunity to present back to their facilitators on what they learnt from the event.

At first I was a little nervous about being thrown into the deep end after only a year, however I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed facilitating a small class. This was made possible by the enthusiasm the trainees showed towards learning as much as possible about the business in a limited time. Within minutes the class was at ease after a short ice breaking event and as a unit everyone gelled together well. I was also very impressed by the quality and standard of presentations delivered by the new joiners in such a short space of time. The event was also beneficial for me as it was a great opportunity to enhance my leadership, communication and networking skills.

Talent 12 was a fantastic experience and an event which I will most certainly be back facilitating on again in the years to come.

The Secret Life of an Audit Manager

I joined Grant Thornton in 1984 as a trainee, studying for the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators exams (which focuses on Company Law, but also includes accountancy, audit and tax). I passed the exams and was admitted as an associate member of ICSA in February 1987.

Later that year I started the ACA training, and passed the first 8 exams. Sadly, just before I sat my final 4 exams my father died – and although I went ahead and sat the exams my mind was not ‘in gear’, and I was unsuccessful in one of the four papers. The credit system did not exist back then, which meant I had to re-sit all 4 papers, which I did, but again was unsuccessful in the same paper. I tried for a third time, but got the same result.

The firm was very supportive, allowing me to continue my career with my ICSA qualification and by that time knowing the work I was capable of carrying out. By then I was an audit senior and shortly afterwards was promoted to assistant manager and then manager.

I have always been a strong believer in personal development, and working as a line manager, training manager and assessor at the Development Centres I have taken a keen interest over the years in the development of the firm’s trainees. However, I felt there was something missing for me in not having an accountancy qualification, and I was sad that the qualification had eluded me earlier in my career.

In 2006 I made the decision that I wanted to gain an accountancy qualification. I recognised that it would be hard work and challenging, but it felt an important step in my own professional development. It also felt important to honour the work that I do, and my career that, even after many years, remains stimulating, motivating and very rewarding. With the support and encouragement of my office assurance partners and Office Managing Partner, I registered with the ACCA. I would have to take 9 exams to enable me to qualify. I was surprised that they had granted me some exemptions because of my ICSA qualification – after all I had taken these exams more than 20 years earlier!

I decided to do the studying by distance learning, and the books for the first 2 exams arrived in January 2010. It has been hard work since then, keeping up with the demands of the ‘day job’ as a senior assurance manager, studying in the evenings and weekends (for all the trainees – I really do understand what trainees face!) and trying to maintain my home and social life!!

The subjects have been wide-ranging: the audit and financial & corporate reporting have been based on international standards (which has been good to learn), and I have also taken exams in financial and business management, business strategy and analysis and tax. I have enjoyed the learning, up-dating my knowledge, and reading some really interesting and informative articles (especially around business analysis).

I sat my first exams in June 2010, and was so happy when I passed them. I sat a further 2 in December 2010 (and passed), 3 in June 2011 (and passed) and the final 2 in December 2011. I got the results on Monday (13 February) and was over the moon when I read the words “pass” against both papers. In fact, I think I’m still smiling!

Nick’s Diary – February 2012

With my Personal Tax secondment now becoming a distant memory I am racking my brains to figure out why February seems to have been so action backed for me this year. I’m not sure I can blame the extra day the leap year provides and I think things are just heading up for yet another busy season in my world.

At the start of February I had my increasingly frequent meet-and-greet with applicants in the Southampton office over a selection of sandwiches and doughnuts. One question which always seems to be on the tip of the tongues of applicants includes the word “secondment”.

In a global firm like Grant Thornton, secondments are widely available, but typically these are offered to people who have qualified and completed their training contract. My experience has been vastly different.

Just a few months after joining the firm, I took the opportunity to work with the Oxford office on an R&D project which allowed me to travel to a client in Scotland. In November 2011, I started my secondment to the Personal Tax Compliance Unit in Southampton and two weeks ago, I was back on the secondment wagon to go and experience trainee life in a different department – this time in audit.

I have always thought that audit is the best way to train to become an accountant. Being able to view the intricate details of a vast variety of businesses and their finances from the inside is a gift which most other finance professionals do not get to enjoy. I wanted to see what life was like on the other side of the coin and thankfully have been given the chance to do so.

It is the nature of the professional services world which sees its professionals hectically busy one minute to very quiet the next – all in the name of beating a deadline. The end of January is a big one to personal tax, but in corporate tax I have prepared well for the next big one on 31 March.

This gave me the chance to hop over to audit for a six week secondment where their busy season, thanks to 31 December year ends, is just kicking off. It feels great to be getting stuck in with various teams and visiting clients is a great way to build up confidence. I’m now in my second week and I already feel that steep learning curve has hit me again – and it’s great.

In other news, I’ve received my law textbook for my CTA e-assessment, with 300 pages of text which isn’t exactly my cup of tea, it’s a good job I’ve got it in early and I’m looking to the end of March to get it done and dusted, watch this space!