Office Hours: Grant Thornton’s Team Discusses Community Involvement, Workplace Culture And More

by

On Tuesday, July 15th, TalentEgg hosted this season’s second summer Office Hours with the Grant Thornton team!

The experts from Grant Thornton talked about workplace culture, community involvement at Grant Thornton and more – while also addressing some great questions about applications, cover letters and interviews!

Read the event transcript below!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Welcome to Office Hours, TalentEgg-ers! My name is Elias and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

Over the next hour, you can share your questions about career opportunities at Grant Thornton, learn about different student and grad roles and get tips for successfully hatching your career.

You can start submitting your questions now!

Many of you took the opportunity to submit a question in advance – fantastic!

The Grant Thornton team is going to address some pre-submitted questions as well as a number of questions submitted live. We’re going to cover as many topics as we can, so there’s a lot to learn today!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Now let’s meet today’s experts! Could you please tell the audience a bit about yourselves and what you do at Grant Thornton?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Hello Talent Egg-ers! Thank you for attending today’s Office Hours. My name is Sumira and I am the Talent Attraction Specialist for Alberta. I look forward to being able to answer all your “egg-cellent” questions today!

Ryan Coles (Grant Thornton):

Hello everyone, my name is Ryan Coles and I am one of the Human Resources Consultants for our Nova Scotia offices. I am based out of our Halifax office and I am responsible for campus recruitment for our 11 Nova Scotia offices. I have been with Grant Thornton for nearly 2 years.

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

Hi everyone! My name is Julie Gellos and I am the Senior HR Consultant for Southern Ontario. I support the Greater Toronto Area offices and help manage all of our campus recruitment activities for the 14 Offices in Southern Ontario where we strive to find the best and the brightest to join our firm. Looking forward to your questions today!

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

Hello, my name is Adam Melnyk and I assist the Grant Thornton offices in South Coastal BC (Vancouver, Langley, and Victoria). I’ve been working with the firm for over three and a half years. This is my 4th year attending and organizing campus recruitment events. It’s always an exciting process where I get to meet the best and brightest in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. I’ll be seeing many of you at the UBC/DAP Beach BBQ.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Thanks! Let’s kick things off with a question that was submitted by a student in advance:

Rick, an Accounting student at BCIT, asks:

How does Grant Thornton differentiate themselves from other firms, both big and small?

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

Thanks for the question, Rick. The firm is large enough to offer a diverse group of clients for new Accountants to work with but small enough that we don’t need to allocate the new Accountant to a specific industry which can happen at a larger firm.

The amount of responsibility a new Accountant is given is also unique to Grant Thornton.

Our audit teams are encouraged as often as possible to work at the clients. Our recent group of co-op students were working in the field immediately after their week of training. Some smaller firms don’t offer as much client exposure and it can be left to the file Manager to interact with the client.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Fantastic! Let’s look at another pre-submitted question.

Sanaz is completing an Accounting degree at UBC, and asks:

How can I improve my practical skills in accounting and connect myself to the real world in accounting?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Good question Sanaz!

As a student, it can be difficult to find an accounting job without a degree or previous experience. It is certainly not required or expected to have previous accounting experience when applying for an Articling position. I suggest volunteering your time with your University Tax Clinic or getting involved with your University Accounting Students Association/Club. If possible, go through the cooperative or work term program with your University.

In addition, apply for summer positions at firms: you will be surprised how much you learn in a short four months. To be more involved, contact your provincial accounting association / CPA and see what events they are arranging. Also, check accounting firm websites for events they are sponsoring/hosting throughout the summer and school year.

Mark (York University):

I have recently started a software user support job and I am aware that Grant Thornton really values client service skills in a candidate. My question is, how can I better show it on my resume in a way that will stand out from the crowd?

Ryan Coles (Grant Thornton):

Hi Mark! The best way to highlight something on your resume is to outline any successes that you have had.

In the case of your client service skills, on your resume, tell us about successes you have had with client service. Have you had any “big wins” or can you provide measures that demonstrate your success? These will really go a long way in making you stand out.

Mark (York University):

Great. Thanks Ryan and Sumira! Really appreciate the insightful tips.

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Thanks Mark!

Patrick Choi:

I know that Grant Thornton has made the “Great Place to Work” list for the seventh consecutive year now – what experience have you guys had with the firm that truly made you realize this reputation?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Being a part of the Great Places to Work is not only a reflection of the business but of the team. It is a pleasure to work in a firm where you feel like a valued part of the business and feel like you contribute to the overall success of the firm.

Kirti Dhull (York University):

Grant Thornton is offering several office visits in the GTA area. I was wondering what their structure looks like and how can I prepare myself for the event?

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

Hi Kirti, thanks for inquiring about the office visits.

There is nothing you need to do to prepare for the event but I would suggest compiling a list of questions for the recruiters as well as the team members you will meet from our various practice areas.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Great question! Don’t miss those events.

Meet some Grant Thornton team members in this video on their TalentEgg profile! Watch: http://bit.ly/1nbNAmY

Let’s hear from another student who submitted a question in advance:

Kevin, an Accounting student at BCIT, asks:

How has your time at Grant Thornton better connected you to your community in business and personal life?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Thanks Kevin! Making a difference in the community is something Grant Thornton employees across Canada are very passionate about. Personally, I am a mentor with a ERIEC, which is a not for profit agency which helps Foreign Trained Professionals land jobs in Canada, by teaching them the fundamental skills, nuances and requirements of the Canadian workforce. I have been able to leverage my skills and connections to participate in and represent Grant Thornton at various panel discussions and by taking on mentors.

As an Accountant, you work and communicate with a diverse range of clientele. As a business adviser, you are able to build connections, first hand and offer clients assistance to help grow their business. Many of our team members are involved with charities and community initiatives and sit on advisory boards or executive positions. Grant Thornton highly encourages community involvement.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Martin, an HBA student from Ivey Business School, asks:

If you were to use one word to describe the employees at Grant Thornton, what would it be?

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

Oh, that’s a tough one Martin! Hard to pick only one word but it would have to be AWESOME!

Across the country we have professional people who genuinely care about one another and the communities they live and work in. The firm has an amazing group of people with a wide variety of backgrounds all committed to the growth of the firm and to working hard to ensure everyone is successful.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Victor, an Accounting student at BCIT, asks:

In hindsight, what is the one piece of information you wish you had before you started your career and why?

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

I wish I had more information on professional networking as a student. What I didn’t know before I started my career is that it is never too early to start!

I know I am dating myself here but when I was in university, we didn’t have social media outlets such as LinkedIn to keep in contact with people and looking back, there are many people that I wished I had continued to network with. Networking and keeping in touch with people is VERY important in this industry. People you meet today may be your future clients tomorrow!

FaarehaK:

How is Grant Thornton preparing for the upcoming changes with the CPA designation?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

In terms of preparation for our CPA Students, we have solid training programs. The training, mentorship and exam preparation will not be affected by any of the CPA changes. As an organization we are in constant contact with the CPA to ensure that our information is accurate and we are able to support our students in the best way possible.

Great question FaarehaK!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Alan, an Accounting student at St. Francis Xavier University, asks

What advice can you offer a candidate hoping to excel in an interview with Grant Thornton? What do you look for in particular? What are some common mistakes you see too often?

Ryan Coles (Grant Thornton):

The key is to be true to yourself. As with any interview, you will want to present yourself in a professional manner but we are really interested in just getting to know you.

We understand that interviews are inherently stressful and we do everything possible to ensure candidates are comfortable during the process. However, it is still important to try to minimize nervousness as it may prevent you from presenting your true self.

Another “mistake” that we sometimes see is when a candidate does not learn about who we are prior to the interview: it is important to always learn at least a little about the organization you are interviewing with.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Great answer, Ryan! Let’s take another pre-submitted question.

Arthur, a student at the Schulich School of Business, asks:

What are employee social events like at Grant Thornton?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Hi Arthur! Grant Thornton has a wide range of social events, both formally and informally. Formally, we have monthly “happy hours” in office, which is a great chance for our Managing Partner to talk about what is going on in the Firm and to enjoy some food and beverages with the team.

We also have family picnics, holiday parties, charity involvement, sports teams and other community events we participate in. Each office and business unit has unique events that they host. Informally, your colleagues become your friends.

Most people in the office spend time together outside of work, whether it is going for lunch or drinks, to camping trips and concerts. We are a close knit group and enjoy our time together.

Nicole:

Hi, I’m a Career & Employment Advisor at the University of Lethbridge. Is there anything you wish university career centers would do a better job of in preparing students for the recruitment process?

Ryan Coles (Grant Thornton):

Hi Nicole. Helping the students prepare early for campus recruitment would go a long way. There is a lot happening that time of the year so it is not something they want to procrastinate with.

Encouraging students to start preparing resumes, cover letters and having these reviewed before the campus recruitment season would help ensure they are putting forward a polished product. Also, providing them with practice or assistance with networking and interviews would also go a long way.

Finally, encouraging second- and third-year students to take part in campus recruitment event helps them understand what the process looks like and will better prepare them for the future.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Great answer, Ryan! There are many steps students can take to position themselves for success in recruitment season, and campus career centres have a lot to offer!

Needhi (Western University- Specialization in Accounting):

There are innumerable resources that are available for writing a resume and cover letter. However, in your own opinion what are some attributes of a well-written cover letter? What are you specifically looking forward to read?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

When I review a cover letter I am looking for the answers to three simple questions. Why do you want to be an accounting with a public accounting firm? Why do you want to work for Grant Thornton? Finally, what attributes can you bring to Grant Thornton?

Be sure your paragraphs have correct grammar and punctuation and are clear and concise.

Elias (TalentEgg):

This seems like a great time for our poll! Let’s see what the options are:

What’s your #1 accounting career priority?

  • Learning and professional development ( 50% )
  • Interesting work experience ( 30% )
  • Earning potential ( 10% )
  • Engaging workplace culture ( 10% )

Devin Joyce:

As a recent graduate I’m really excited not only in starting on my path towards a designation but also in the possibilities it will create for my future! At Grant Thornton how does an Articling position fit into the company’s long-term plans?

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

Thanks for the question, Devin. Articling students are the foundation of public practice accounting. The Articling student today may be the Partner of tomorrow. Accountants who start in Assurance are exposed to other professionals in other Service Lines like Tax or Advisory and can find their professional passions and pursue them.

Kerry (Ryerson University):

Over the years, you’ve likely seen hundreds/thousands of student candidates in the recruiting process. In your opinion what are some common characteristics of successful candidates that have gone on to excel in the firm as well?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Hi Kerry, that is a great question. We are a diverse group and there are a variety of characteristics that will lead to success. In my opinion, the common thread, is the deep client engagement that our team has. Taking additional time to research the client and their needs will help you grow into a successful business adviser in the firm.

ShafiWarraich:

Does Grant Thornton empower employees to complete an audit file from start to finish?

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

Depending on the size of the file an Accountant would have the opportunity to see a file start to finish. Keep in mind that a Sr. Accountant is always close by to ask your questions to. This is one of the main things that differentiates Grant Thornton from other accounting firms.

ShafiWarraich:

Thank you Adam!

Elias (TalentEgg):

That’s all the time we have for questions today. Thanks for participating in Office Hours! And of course, a big thank-you to the Grant Thornton team as well for answering all these questions! Do you have any final comments?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Thank you all very much! We look forward to more questions at our next TalentEgg Office Hours session. Enjoy the summer!

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

Thanks for all the great questions! I hope to see a lot of you over the summer at the events.

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

Thanks for participating in this chat. Great questions today! Hope we were able to provide you with more insight on Grant Thornton.

Needhi (Western University – Specialization in Accounting):

Thank-you for your time and for this opportunity to ask questions.

Ryan Coles (Grant Thornton):

Thank you for all your questions and I look forward to our next Office Hours session!

Rob Davis:

Thank you very much Elias and all the firm representatives. I expect much of this information will be very useful in the upcoming recruiting season!

Kirti Dhull (York University):

Thank you!

FaarehaK:

Thank you !!

Mark (York University):

Thank you for your time! Very helpful!

Patrick (2nd year Commerce student at Queen’s University):

Thanks guys! 🙂

Elias (TalentEgg):

Egg-cellent! To learn more about Grant Thornton, check out their profile on TalentEgg (http://talentegg.ca/employer/grant-thornton-llp/company-profile/) and be sure to follow them on Twitter (@GTCanadaNewGrad) for insider info.

Thanks again for joining us today, TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter (@TalentEgg) and Facebook (facebook.com/TalentEgg) for upcoming Office Hours events!

Share