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Sam: why I stayed

From Audit to TAS

I joined Grant Thornton as an audit trainee within the Birmingham office but, after my training, decided audit wasn’t where I wanted to spend my whole career. I wanted to stay in the firm though, so I looked at what different areas of the business do and spoke to people in the office who had made similar moves. Once I had decided that the TAS team felt right for me, I joined on a secondment before going full time in the team in 2013 – and 10 years later I haven’t looked back!

I’ve always felt supported and encouraged to develop my career and excel within the firm. When I was pregnant with my first child and just two weeks before I finished for maternity leave, I was given an out-of-cycle promotion to associate director. It was recognised that I would have been promoted in the time I was off, and while they didn’t need to give it to me then, doing so meant that I could go on maternity leave and focus on my new family knowing the promotion was secure. A small gesture that made all the difference to me.

Soon after my return, I started working on a part-time basis. I was initially concerned that it may hold me back in my career, but I needn’t have worried. The Elevate Development programme launched whilst I was on maternity leave with my second child, and I was able to use my keep-in-touch days to take part; I even took my three-month-old to one of the sessions with me!

It’s amazing to see the progress the firm has made in supporting women returning to the workplace, even between my two returns to work. The introduction of coaches when returning, and a much clearer, more supported pathway makes such a difference to the individual experience. 

Things were going well, and then the pandemic hit. I returned from maternity leave mid-pandemic, and with the increase in remote working felt that I had lost touch with some of the people who really mattered to me. There’s magic in being around people, and you just can’t replicate that on a Teams call. Then, just as we began getting back to some normality in 2022, the Birmingham office closed temporarily whilst we moved into our new office.

This experience left me questioning whether I still belonged here. As someone who thrives on personal connections and strong relationships, I was feeling ever more disconnected. After receiving two job offers elsewhere, I considered leaving the firm.

Supported to excel

Once I made my manager aware how I was feeling, I was connected to a mentor almost immediately. Corporate Finance Director Debbie Mayor, based in Scotland, spent time with me to explore my career journey and help me figure out ‘what next’. I felt valued, and it boosted my motivation to succeed here. I then developed an ‘out-of-service line’ mentoring relationship with Tax Partner Rachel Parker, as she was also based in Birmingham.

Moving into our fantastic new office and working together with colleagues again made a real difference. I immediately started to rekindle old relationships and get chatting to the people I needed to know in my role. I was happier, more social and reminded of why I love it here.

It was a combination of factors that finally convinced me to stay at Grant Thornton – the people, the new office, the career support and mentoring, and the overall culture. Trust is a huge part of how we work here, and never had it been more evident than in the weeks after I made the decision to stay.

Unfortunately, my son became quite unwell, and my daughter struggled to settle in at her new school, which led to many sleepless nights and challenging mornings. I had the partners’ unwavering support during this time and was trusted to manage my work commitments alongside my family, thanks to our flexible approach to work. I know I wouldn’t have had the same level of trust had I moved jobs, and for that I am grateful. I’m also very grateful to my coach, Dan Hartland who has also been a very important person in helping me to progress in my career.

I successfully passed my director panel earlier this year. It was a demanding process, but both Rachel and Debbie were by my side I’m now determined to repay some of the support I received. I’ve worked with many talented female managers here, and as a new director, I’m committed to helping them take their careers to the next level. 

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