Onboarding into a new role isn't what it used to be

Ruth Topham tells us how joining Grant Thornton during lockdown was surprisingly efficient and pleasant, even virtually.

I joined Grant Thornton without having to leave my house as all of my recruitment and onboarding was done virtually. What led me here was the opportunity to work with a great team, and to support the firm at an exciting time.

As finance director, my aim is to help the business focus its time on creating value for our clients, by running efficient processes that enable our people to complete finance tasks easily and by giving leaders the insight to keep moving financial performance in the right direction.

The finance team also ensures that we remain compliant across a wide range of areas like taxes, reporting and external audit; and cover some of the firm's procurement and insurances.

So far, I've had lots of introduction meetings and doing this virtually has meant I've been able to ‘meet’ more people than I would have done if in person. Also, the fact that everyone’s name flashes up next to their picture in Teams, has made it easier to remember names too. The only challenge is me remembering to give my eyes a rest regularly!

I’ve been really impressed by the thought and time put into my induction plan and the very supportive culture across the business. The support has been seamless, which is very impressive – not every large business can say that!

"I’ve been really impressed by the thought and time put into my induction plan and the very supportive culture across the business. "

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An open, efficient culture

There were two things that really struck me about Grant Thornton from the start of my recruitment – both cultural.

The first was the openness of the recruitment process, and the second was the approach to supporting and developing people. I’m lucky to have worked in some really successful organisations in my past, so I would say I have quite a high benchmark, but Grant Thornton really stood out.

Success for me depends on the success of my team. A team that cares passionately about what they do, is always learning and has fun, is usually one that gets the job done well and delivers above expectations. As humans we spend a lot of our time working, so success is making the time count by leaving a positive legacy behind you and enjoying it along the way.

I’m passionate about developing people to be the best they can be. In previous roles, I’ve coached and supported people with low levels of confidence but have gone on to exceed their own expectations.

In reality, they’ve done all the hard work, and I’ve just given them advice and a bit of belief in themselves along the way. But it still makes me smile to play a part in someone’s personal development both in work and in their home life, and to see where they take themselves.

"The more diverse and inclusive we are as a firm, the more we will reflect the teams of our clients and be in a great position to build and maintain these vital relationships."

A phone-a-friend network

Being the finance director for a group of people that is made up predominantly of other accountants can be quite intimidating when I think about it too much.

The thing I have to remind myself is that running a finance team is just another specialism within finance, the same way we have client-facing specialisms. I can’t be the expert in everything, but on the plus side I now have the best 'phone-a-friend' network any finance director could wish for.

In my view, Grant Thornton is streets ahead of our competitors in being culturally aligned to our client base. The more diverse and inclusive we are as a firm, the more we will reflect the teams of our clients and be in a great position to build and maintain these vital relationships.

What I love about my job

The thing I love most about my job is how privileged we are to be one of the few departments to see the full picture. We’re perfectly placed to understand what’s behind the numbers, what’s driving the business now and in the future, and to help deliver value for the business. I love that we can make a real difference by informing decision-making.

The piece of advice I live by is, 'be yourself, everyone else is taken'. Advice given and modelled by my dad.

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