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Emma: supported to excel

As a payroll executive in our Northampton office, I help to deliver monthly payrolls for all our people, as well as Grant Thornton International colleagues and our ever-growing contractor population. My job is to make sure payrolls are paid accurately and on time each month.

Supported in my career

I knew payroll was the career path I wanted to follow and recently took a payroll course to help me step up into the executive role. The course I took on was a foundation degree in payroll management with the CIPP (Chartered Institute for Payroll and Pension Professionals). The firm really does support everyone to excel in their career and I was lucky that the firm supported me in my studies; I hope to show I'm worth the investment!

I’d just signed my study agreement when I discovered I was pregnant. I was scared about how it would impact my career and nervous to tell my manager. I’d convinced myself that the study agreement would be revoked, but I needn’t have worried. I wasn't prepared for the support given to me when I shared my news; I was elated that I could continue my studies on maternity leave. Even the CIPP was surprised that I wasn't pausing my studies when I let them know about my situation. 

A firm that cares 

I told my manager at around four weeks, in case anything unexpected happened whilst I was at work. I wanted at least one person to be aware, even though I didn't really want to tell anyone. I was conscious of what they thought after agreeing to pay for my studies and me then telling them I’d be off for a year.

After telling my team leader and receiving a warm response, I knew that I didn't need to hide it. I was excited to tell the rest of my team. Ultimately, what I would gain from the course would still be put into practice upon my return from maternity leave.

I came into the office at 12 weeks with a Friends-themed t-shirt saying: “The one where I tell everyone I'm pregnant”. My team screamed and hugged me. We’re a tight-knit team, always supportive and happy for one another. I lost my mum the year prior, where there were lots of tears shared. It was so nice to get advice and support from everyone then, and this level of support continued while I was on leave. I received well wishes for my recent graduation and have had lovely responses from the wider firm on Yammer and LinkedIn.

My team leader and manager were always just a message away when I needed assistance with study materials. They kept me updated on any big changes when I completed my keep in touch days. This was especially helpful as one of the modules was a work-based project. 

Finding the balance 

I struggled juggling everything when I returned to work. Parenting, studying and working was exhausting, so I am pleased I’ve finished my studies now. I used to do most of my studying on the weekends and thankfully a lot of it was online, so I could watch it back between naps and feeds. 

Parenthood is no longer a hindrance in the workplace; I believe our firm really drives this home. You can see it in their new family leave policies coming into place in January and their recent recognition as a top 10 employer for Working Families 2022 for the second year running. 

The option of agile working has been amazing. I’ve had to take my son for couple of hospital appointments and have always been given flexibility from work so I can make the time up. It gives me peace of mind that I don't have to choose between my family and professional reputation.

My advice to others is, don’t wait or put your life on hold. If you’re looking to start a family but worry it may interfere with studies or career, you don’t need to. Grant Thornton is such a flexible employer and there will always be a path forward.

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14 November 2022 at 11:41 AM