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Alex: Audit Manager and Army Reservist

When I left university I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do, I’d always quite liked the idea of joining the Armed Forces, but lets just say it wasn’t given the full support of my parents when talking through career options, and I joined Grant Thornton in 2019 as a part-qualified auditor before qualifying and progressing to manager.

I really enjoy working in audit because it gives me exposure to a wide range of clients and gives me variation day-to-day, but equally I still had the itch to scratch in wanting to join the forces. In 2020, in the midst of lockdowns when everything was closed, and I was living on my own in London I decided that I would sign up to join the Army Reserves.

Army Reserve Soldiers come from all walks of life and work part-time as soldiers for the British Army alongside full-time Regular soldiers, so it was something I could do at the same time as my role at Grant Thornton.

My people manager was really supportive when I told them that I had applied to the Army Reserves, and Marcus, the Head of Department, was really onside, he said it was a brilliant thing to do and having that support definitely made a difference. The basic training takes place over a good few months – spaced out into different blocks, and I was able to take the time off that I needed to complete that without worrying about what would happen with projects I was working on. The army writes to my people manager to advise them about deployment opportunities we have coming up, so whilst I haven’t been on any overseas deployments yet, I am hopeful that I’ll get the opportunity in the future.

I think the best experience I have had so far has been taking part in the Trooping the Colour – it was such an incredible experience. I don’t think you can fully appreciate how much goes into an event like that until you are a part of it. I can’t begin to explain the feeling of marching out from Wellington Barracks down The Mall, and you are literally the only people marching so everyone’s eyes are on you, the band is going, people are screaming – it’s just epic!

Whilst the Trooping the Colour itself was on a weekend, I definitely had to make the most of our ‘how we work’ framework in the run up to it, as there are different inspections and so much preparation to do before the event itself. When you step out of the barracks and onto The Mall all eyes are on you, and every aspect of your kit has to be perfect; I don’t think people would believe the amount of time that is spent preparing the boots – so much shining goes on. In the run up to the event I did often have to make sure I was off a bit earlier than I usually would so I could get to the barracks and prepare, but because of how we work I felt comfortable doing that and there were never any questions asked.Being able to be a part of the Reserves alongside working in a career which I love is really rewarding, and everyone within the firm has been really supportive which makes a lot of difference.