I started with Grant Thornton 6 years ago and looking back now I can firmly say it has been an incredible journey. From what I have learned technically, to the friends I have made, to the opportunities I have had, Grant Thornton definitely gives you an all-round experience. Getting to Grant Thornton wasn’t the easiest of paths for me. I did quite badly in my Leaving Cert (my parents are still blaming the TV that was always on while I was “studying”) and I struggled to find a course that would accept me. I always had an interest in Accounting but this was no longer an option for me, so after an interview in DCU the morning after my Debs (don’t ask me how I did it!!) I turned my head to Engineering. After 2 years I realised this was not the path for me and I still regretted not trying to get into Accounting.
At this point I was 20 years old with a definite age complex and decided part time study was the way to go in Accounting and Finance in Griffith College while working full time to fund it. It was at this point I finally felt like I was doing something I loved. I realised after my second year in college that I more than likely would not get into any Accounting firms through the milkround due to my leaving cert so I decided to apply for other roles to get my foot in the door. I will never forget the day I got a call from Grant Thornton (hiding in the supply closet of my previous employer) being asked if I would consider a role in Risk in their Advisory department. I was ecstatic and knew I was being offered a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am forever grateful to the Partner at the time for giving me a chance and letting me have an amazing career here in Grant Thornton. I found out after he liked my CV because I mentioned I did work experience in prosthetics and he was looking for someone a bit different, so turned out my time in Engineering was a benefit for me. Things really do all happen for a reason.
After I finished my degree I started on the training programme and it was an amazing 3.5 years. I worked on industry-leading clients, was given a lot of responsibility and was always helped and guided in every aspect of my career. The thing I loved and still do about Grant Thornton is the ability to work on so many varying clients, topics and teams. We always have a lot of fun while we work too and I have made friends for life. Grant Thornton want to see their employees grow and support their career paths. You are given the time and opportunity to really develop your technical knowledge, soft skills and management skills and this is evidenced in the fact that I finished up my training contract in January 2019 and am now a Manager in the Financial Services Advisory department and enjoying every moment of it.
I have also been very proud to be part of some initiatives that Grant Thornton have rolled out in the last few years. I am part of a programme called People Voice that allows staff to provide feedback to the firm which then the working group strive to implement changes and have been very successful in this. I have also been part of a programme called Accelerate which aims to develop and nurture emerging female talent, building confidence and self-belief, developing effective networking skills and enabling a career planning mind-set. I have thoroughly enjoyed both and would be an advocate for all up and coming initiatives.
In 2016, I was asked by a fellow colleague to join the Chartered Accountants Student Society in Dublin. The committee has three essential functions; Introducing You (Social interaction and Networking - new student receptions, Gala Balls, Post Exam Drinks, Quizzes and many more), Representing You (Interaction with the Institute on behalf of students - Exam reports, Programme reports) and Supporting You (Assisting with any queries or issues students are facing, connect students with mentors for life after the training contract and Health and Wellbeing talks.) When I heard about all the work the committee does for students I was very excited to join and started as the PRO, handling the society’s publicity. Over the three years that I was part of the committee, I also took up the post of Chair of Dublin and Vice-Chair of the Ireland society that oversees the regions. It was such an enjoyable part of my time as a trainee and I made a lot of friends and contacts that will and have served me well so far in my career. I believe that keeping busy during your studies with extra activities outside of work is very important to clear your mind and to look back at an enjoyable experience over your 3.5 years. Being on the committees allowed me to be more focused on my studies and talking to the education board gave me great insights into the exams.
I would say to graduates thinking of a career in accounting to go for it. It is a very rewarding career and you won’t believe how much you develop on a personal level. Also, to any students who like me didn’t get enough points and have to find alternative ways to grow your career, there are always options. All you have to do is find them and a company like Grant Thornton who wants to give an opportunity to everyone.