Meet EY’s Enterpreneurs – Sandra Thompson
Audit Partner Sandra explains how important it is to have an entrepreneurial mindset in order to understand how clients and businesses think.
Q Why is an entrepreneurial mind-set important in EY employees?
A I work with a number of entrepreneurial, fast growth and dynamic businesses. As such, I think it's important to have an entrepreneurial mindset and to understand how clients and businesses think. Clients expect you to be agile, so your behaviour has to mirror theirs, aligning with the way they work.
Q How would you describe the culture at EY?
A Along with being a business built on entrepreneurialism, I find it very inclusive and diverse – In my induction there were nine different nationalities on my table of 10. This was so refreshing. You get a strong sense that who you work with are genuinely decent people, the sort you want to work and socialize with.
Q What does EY do to encourage entrepreneurialism?
A At EY we are encouraged to think outside the box, this brings out the entrepreneurial spirit in all of us. From a client perspective there are a number of entrepreneurial events such as Scale-up London and Entrepreneur of the Year.
Q What’s the advice you would give to someone looking to be more entrepreneurial within a large organisation?
A Find likeminded individuals to bounce ideas off. Don’t be afraid to voice your ideas, it makes you more recognisable. Stand out from the pack.
I left school at 16 and my family expected me to get a job as soon as I left. Luckily, I joined a small firm of accountants as an apprentice, from there I moved to Touche Ross (now Deloitte). I worked in their Business Services Group, dealing with all businesses of all shapes and sizes – one minute I’d be working with a delicatessen, the next a major global mining company. I was then headhunted by PWC in Newcastle which was very different as all my clients were either public or high-profile companies in the North East. This was a big learning curve. As challenging as it was, it actually turned out to be a corner stone in my career as I took two of my companies through IPO; from this I was put on a number of what they deemed “special projects”. I then moved to Scotland, where I was promoted to Director, becoming Head of Private Business for Assurance in Central Scotland. I then moved to Grant Thornton where I was appointed Partner and Practice lead for their Edinburgh office; my remit was building the business, so pretty entrepreneurial in itself. I gained some great experience, again assisting two clients through IPOs, from this I actually joined DGS (my client) as their Global CFO, this was a challenging role, but I missed the buzz of Professional Services.
I was approached by EY and I jumped at the chance. I joined in February 2015 to build the Private Middle Market practice and was officially appointed as UK Private Middle Markets Leader for Audit in September 2015.
My experience as the auditor and audited has given me a great angle to approach clients, enabling me to have meaningful and informed conversations. It has really helped me to understand how to be most effective.