Access Accountancy - kick starting careers
Access Accountancy plays a huge part in our commitment to improving social mobility, offering work experience to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. As a founding signatory of the programme, we have had over 700 state school students join us for work experience, both in person and virtually, since 2015. Many of these have then gone on to join us as trainees. We spoke with Samir and Elle to find out about their experiences on Access Accountancy and the impact it had on them.
Samir Mughal, Access Accountancy participant
I moved to the UK in 2009 from Zambia, and spent much of my childhood moving house, and schools. I had very little knowledge of accountancy, or Grant Thornton, until Max Minogue - an audit trainee - came to my college for a talk. His session gave me an initial understanding about what accountancy is and the careers available, so I researched the firm and work experience opportunities.
I spent a week with Grant Thornton in May 2023 which has definitely changed my perceptions of careers in accountancy. The office culture was so much more open and inclusive than I had expected. I saw partners and directors openly working with associates – it wasn’t at all hierarchical. I wore an Islamic robe on the Friday as it was our Holy day, and nothing was said. I was even offered a prayer room if needed.
It was a really insightful week, and I learnt so much about accounting as a career and Grant Thornton as a place to work. We had talks and panel sessions with people from every service line where we listened to them and got to ask questions too. At the end of the week, we had the opportunity to give presentations in groups.
One of the key takeaways I learnt is that no two days are the same – every person we heard from said that!
Programmes like Access Accountancy are important in helping people who may not heard of accountancy. After spending the week at the firm, I have come to the decision that I definitely want to pursue a career in accountancy, and that Grant Thornton is at the top of the list when I start applying.
Elle Skinner, Audit Associate
If it hadn’t been for the Access Accountancy route offered through the firm, I most likely wouldn’t be where I am now in my career. If I look back three years ago, I started to think maybe a career in business or accounting would be interesting, but the week I spent in our Manchester office really opened my eyes to what a career in accounting could offer me. Without that, I probably would have explored the university option rather than joining as an apprentice.
Before I started the programme in 2019, I thought it would feel quite daunting going into a such a large firm, but straight away I felt welcomed and could feel the support and culture within the firm throughout the week. I felt comfortable to talk and share opinions, contribute to tasks and learn from experienced accountants. I was 17 at the time but felt inspired and motivated to become successful in my career, and that Grant Thornton was a place I wanted to work. I then joined the trainee programme in September 2020.
I am now almost three years into my career here, and I love it. The best thing about working in Audit is who you work with; I’ve worked with lots of different teams and for different managers and partners. I’ve also worked with a range of different clients - some good to work with, some challenging. But the beauty is challenge!
You’re not constantly doing to the same exercise on the same type of client; you can expose yourself to different opportunities in work and different pieces of work. By working with different people, you learn the different ways people think and make suggestions towards certain challenges. It’s the teamworking aspect for me that’s great; you work hard, have a laugh with colleagues and the satisfaction of a job being complete is the icing on the cake!
Programmes like Access Accountancy really help people who may not have considered careers in accountancy before or are unsure about the routes into the profession.