Christina

24 October 2017

It has been almost two and a half years since my first day in Grant Thornton and I am glad to be approaching the final stage of my training contract.

As I am preparing to sit my final exams at the start of November, the panic and excitement has started to kick in. I have been lucky, however to be given an extended study leave to get well prepared and pass the exams.

The firm provides training in the lead up to the exams, this is aimed at developing me both technically and personally. This week I will be starting my study leave and attending 2 weeks revision course which is quite intense. During this time you focus mainly on doing past paper questions under exam conditions. This means that you go into the real exam well aware of the timing and other issues you might face.

Another opportunity to develop the technical skills is to attend the Lunchtime Learning presentations which are offered by the firm. I was also given the opportunity to facilitate the presentations and this is a great way to learn new aspects of tax issues and get into the “nitty-gritty” points. This knowledge will definitely help me to pass my finals.

Furthermore, in summer I attended a Tax Advisory course which was held in Bradenham. The training is primarily presentation based which really helps developing soft and presentation skills which are essential to the profession.

As always, I cannot underestimate the support I get from my colleagues who are always there for me, whether I need their technical advice or a word of encouragement. Wish me luck in my exams!

24 May 2017

So far my time in Grant Thornton has been great - meeting new people, making friends, carrying out interesting assignments, continuous learning and, of course, overcoming challenges. Looking back at the very start of my graduate journey it’s interesting the see the amount of progress that I have made - from assisting colleagues with basic tasks to now being responsible for managing my own projects.

The tax department provides services to both individuals and corporate bodies on various tax issues. I work within the Private Client division in addition to helping with VAT matters, sharing my time between the two based on the clients’ and the firm’s needs. I love being able to work in two areas as it means no two days are the same (you are never pigeon holed into one area).

Currently I’m completing my tax qualification which involves a number of written exams. It is safe to say that practical experience is absolutely crucial when it comes to passing. I sat my exams at the start of May. The timing was ideal as I had gained great exposure to a broad variety of areas of tax which are frequently examined prior to sitting the exams.

We get great study support at Grant Thornton. Prior to sitting the exams we were given specialised tax training which included lectures focusing on different taxes and mock exams which tested various aspects of tax. We were given detailed feedback from each of these mock exams which helped me identify my weakest points and ensure these were turned from weakest to strongest points in advance of the real exams. I also attended a number of lectures provided by the Tax Institute where current topical tax issues were discussed which helped me to improve my commercial awareness.

Throughout the whole period of my studies, my team continuously supported me both morally and with advice and explanations of more complex tax rules, if I struggled with these. I often approached my senior colleagues with technical questions and always received answers to my queries and encouragement which I found extremely helpful. When I was on study leave I was sent a “good luck” card with best wishes from my colleagues to my home address which was really encouraging and shows the continuous support I have been given.

I’m looking forward to the next few months without the stress of exams and enjoying the summer.

 

13 February 2017

Hello I’m Christina and I work in the Grant Thornton Tax team in Belfast. I joined the firm just under 2 years ago after completing a Bachelor in International Economic Relations from Odessa and a Graduate Diploma in Accounting from Ulster University.

When I moved to Belfast from Ukraine 3 and a half years ago, it was difficult to leave everything behind: my established way of living, job and most importantly my family. I was moving to a place more than 2,000 miles away and building everything from scratch. In addition, as you can imagine the transition to a new country with very different cultures wasn’t entirely smooth either.

However, since joining Grant Thornton I have felt constant support from my colleagues, which has really helped me to settle into a new environment. A prime example was that this year, knowing it was my 4th Christmas away from home, my team organised a Ukrainian style Christmas Lunch with homemade Ukrainian traditional dishes (every team member cooked a dish at home and brought them to work where lunch was held). It is things like this that really make the difference, it says so much about the people I work with and it really means a lot to me.

When deciding what department to join and having studied International Economic Relations I was drawn to a career in tax. I liked that it was challenging and that the ever changing tax environment requires continuous development, so you are constantly learning.

As I have progressed, my role has expanded significantly. My day-to-day responsibilities include managing a list of clients assigned to me, providing solutions to client’s tax issues and queries along with compliance work and liaising with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). One of the most exciting aspects of the job is building relationships with clients. I often attend client meetings and am also given autonomy to meet with them on my own.

When you are working full-time and studying it is important to maintain a balance to keep yourself motivated and energised. We have had a number of social events over the years. These are a great way to build relationships internally with both your team and senior members who you work alongside every day. The atmosphere is always very relaxed and friendly and you can fulfil your potential and thrive which is ultimately my aim.

What I really love about my job is that while you develop and progress, you can also help others and pay back into the community you live in. Every year the firm holds number of events (such as our Runway Run, Corporate Social Responsibility day etc.) focusing on fundraising for charities and giving back to the local community. The firm works closely with some of the well-known charity organisations here in Belfast where we have carried out a number of volunteering activities which I took part in last year and am looking forward to again this year.

Overall, I am really enjoying my time with Grant Thornton and as I continue to learn and develop I’m excited to see what the next few months hold!