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Rachel: returning to Grant Thornton

My career so far

​​​​​​​I joined Grant Thornton in 2016 as a school leaver straight from college. I had no idea what I wanted to do but I knew I didn’t want to go to university. When I came across Grant Thornton and went through the application process, it was such a welcoming experience; I knew I wanted to join the firm. I qualified in 2021 and was promoted to manager in 2022. After five years of study and working to get qualified, I felt a little burnt out. Having joined straight from college, I began to wonder what a career on the other side, in industry, would be like. I considered an internal move within Grant Thornton, and looked at either moving into the firm’s finance team or another service line, but I decided I wanted a clean slate to try somewhere completely in December 2022 I left the firm.  

Valuing our differences

I didn’t feel immediately at home in my new company; I thought it was just because it was new to me and needed to give it time. But as time went on, nothing really changed, I wasn’t able to have the impact I’d thought I could have.

One moment that really stood out to me and made me think about what I’d lost by leaving the firm was during Ramadan. Part way through the month I spoke to an old (now current) colleague, and I’d completely missed the fact that he was fasting. It made me appreciate the effort that Grant Thornton, and individuals here, put into promoting and learning about different cultures within the firm. I realised then that I had lost that, and I didn’t want to.  

I made a passing comment when catching up with friends who were still at the firm saying, “Oh I hope Grant Thornton will take me back”. I’d also kept in touch with my old people manager, Amanda James, and met up with her. After about 10 minutes she just said, “We would absolutely love it if you came back if things aren’t working out for you”.  

I was apprehensive at first about whether I should return because I didn’t want admit I’d made the wrong decision. But I realised, I am never going to get an Amanda James where I am, and I am never going to get the breadth of work and experiences that I can get at Grant Thornton. So, I re-joined the firm in May 2023.  

Doing what’s right

Understanding that I had left for a reason, Amanda spoke with me about expanding my role to incorporate my other interests. At the time, they were looking for someone to help support the people side of the team. Whilst I am good at auditing, people are my passion. Helping trainees to learn and develop and making sure everyone has a fair chance is something that really interests me, so I’m grateful to now work a 50% audit portfolio and 50% focusing on our people – and it’s great.  

Even though I wasn’t away from the company for the long, I went through all the inductions a new joiner would, which was actually useful. It was particularly helpful when looking at the people elements in my role - I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do to make it even better for new joiners in the team going forward.  

Two things that stood out to me on re-joining were the importance of our buddy programme and spending time in our offices. I hadn’t been away for long, so it didn’t feel too new for me learning about the firm. I can imagine though, if you’re someone joining the firm for the first time, spending time in the office with people face to face, getting to know your buddy, and meeting those in leadership roles is really important.  

I was a bit nervous that people may judge me for leaving and then returning so quickly, but I shouldn’t have worried. Everyone was so welcoming, and I’m really pleased I came back.  

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