"It’s all about the journey, not the destination" by Paul Wilson, VAT Director

"It’s all about the journey, not the destination" by Paul Wilson

VAT Director

"I was born in South Africa to Northern Irish parents who had emigrated there in the early 70s to avoid the ‘Troubles’. The first major step in my career was to spend my work placement year during university in New York City. Around this time my mother had terminal cancer and she hadn't been given long to live. I was going to turn down the placement offer but she told me she didn't want me to miss out on this opportunity and encouraged me to go. While it was a difficult decision at the time, I decided to move to New York and start my new journey. After graduation, I moved back to London where I met Joanna, my now wife, in my first week at my previous firm. We have since had three children - Erin (11), James (9) and Archie (6 ¾ – the ¾ is very important when you are almost 7). It's important for me to see my kids grow up being happy in themselves and whatever path they choose to follow. I hope to be valued by those that I encounter and be considered to have made a positive difference."

Chapter: 1: Beyond the Troubles

I was born in South Africa to Northern Irish parents who had emigrated there in the early 70s to avoid the ‘Troubles’. But they returned shortly after I was born so I spent almost all my childhood growing up in a town called Carrickfergus, just outside Belfast. I was affected by the Troubles but not to anywhere near the extent I could have been if I lived elsewhere in the Province. I am first generation university educated and the first major step that brought me to Grant Thornton was to spend my work placement year during university in New York City.

Around this time my mother had terminal cancer and she hadn't been given long to live. I was going to turn down the placement offer but she told me she didn't want me to miss out on this opportunity and encouraged me to go. While it was a difficult decision at the time, I decided to move to New York and start my new journey. This opened my eyes to the diverse wide world outside the Province, which was one that I wanted to be a part of.

'Grant Thornton has given me the flexibility in my career that allows me to balance life at home.'

Chapter 2: Starting a family

After graduating, I applied for roles in cities across the UK and Ireland and was fortunate to secure a graduate role at my previous firm in their London. I met Joanna, my now wife, in my first week on the job. She was working in another tax team and after we both finished our professional tax exams, we went on a two year secondment in Auckland, New Zealand.

After returning to London, we moved to Manchester around 2006 to settle down, buy a house and start a family. We have since had three children Erin (11), James (9) and Archie (6 ¾ – the ¾ is very important when you are almost 7). When we moved to Manchester, Jo joined Grant Thornton where she spent seven successful years working in the Employer Solutions team.

Chapter 3: No regrets

My family is the most important thing to me. They are the closest people in my life and I would do anything for them. I’m very proud of my journey so far. One of my proudest moments was stopping smoking after over 20 years. Stopping smoking was a series of failures and lying to myself - I may have learnt more from that experience than any others as I found things out about myself and addiction that surprised me.

I want to be a good father, husband and friend and I do not want to look back on life with regrets. It's important for me to see my kids grow up being happy in themselves and whatever path they choose to follow. I hope to be valued by those that I encounter and be considered to have made a positive difference.

To be successful in professional services, it is fundamentally about working in teams and without my colleagues I could not have achieved even half of what I have done in my career to date. Grant Thornton has given me the flexibility in my career that allows me to balance life at home. I have adopted an ad hoc flexible approach to working, which suits my personal situation. It’s allowed my wife and I to have the careers we want, but at the same time ensure that either of us can make that important class assembly.

I’ve been given the freedom and trust to run the VAT team how I wanted to from the moment I joined and, while my approach is different from “the norm”, the results over the past two years (I hope) have shown that trust was well founded. I have a team of 15, where nine work flexibly for a variety of reasons, some family, some personal and some lifestyle. But all of which I encourage and value and, as a result, I think this allows the whole team to contribute more than a customary working arrangement.

As you can probably tell, I don’t think there is anything particularly unique about me. I’m just an ordinary boy from Ulster who has worked hard and done pretty well for himself.

My family is the most important thing to me. They are the closest people in my life and I would do anything for them. I’m very proud of my journey so far. One of my proudest moments was stopping smoking after over 20 years. Stopping smoking was a series of failures and lying to myself - I may have learnt more from that experience than any others as I found things out about myself and addiction that surprised me.

I want to be a good father, husband and friend and I do not want to look back on life with regrets. It's important for me to see my kids grow up being happy in themselves and whatever path they choose to follow. I hope to be valued by those that I encounter and be considered to have made a positive difference.

To be successful in professional services, it is fundamentally about working in teams and without my colleagues I could not have achieved even half of what I have done in my career to date. Grant Thornton has given me the flexibility in my career that allows me to balance life at home. I have adopted an ad hoc flexible approach to working, which suits my personal situation. It’s allowed my wife and I to have the careers we want, but at the same time ensure that either of us can make that important class assembly.

I’ve been given the freedom and trust to run the VAT team how I wanted to from the moment I joined and, while my approach is different from “the norm”, the results over the past two years (I hope) have shown that trust was well founded. I have a team of 15, where nine work flexibly for a variety of reasons, some family, some personal and some lifestyle. But all of which I encourage and value and, as a result, I think this allows the whole team to contribute more than a customary working arrangement.

As you can probably tell, I don’t think there is anything particularly unique about me. I’m just an ordinary boy from Ulster who has worked hard and done pretty well for himself.

Paul's story is part of our 'Stories of our diverse workforce' where we've asked our people to open up and share their own personal story. To read more stories, follow the link below.