I used to think I would never want to work for a Big 4 firm. I had this idea of being a small fish in a very big pond which didn’t really appeal to me. During my first meeting with EY, I learnt how different the reality was from the notion I had created in my head.
I joined EY’s Transaction Support team in Reading as a Senior Executive – which was a Manager role. Previously, I started my ACA training contract in the audit team of a smaller firm before transitioning into an M&A role, focusing on the technology and defence sectors in the South West. We were a team of 6 people working with owner managed businesses and SMEs, dealing with 1 or 2 key people at our client’s businesses. A change in circumstances encouraged me to look for a new opportunity elsewhere, and so I went for an interview with EY.
When I first met the Transaction Support team, I discovered how nice the people were. They were interested in my experience; they were interested in me as a person. I realised these were very clever people working with great clients and I could see it lead to really amazing projects to work on.
There are over 200 people in Transaction Support and 45 of us in the specialist Technology, Media and Telecoms team which I joined – quite a difference from the team of 6 in my previous role! You can see that everyone really wants to be here, our Partners are very engaged and generous with their time which gets the team involved. There is a clear career path ahead of you – three people in the team have been promoted to Director since I have been here, so that encourages me to work towards my own career progression.
The opportunity was different to what I was used to in terms of clients and size of deals. Our clients value our advice and I feel as if I’m able to help add real value in the transaction process for them. Coming from outside the Big 4 world and the combination of an M&A background, I had a broad experience of Transactions – albeit smaller ones. This helped me in seeing the bigger picture and being able to have open conversations with clients, stakeholders and partners, which I think was important in my promotion 10 months later to Assistant Director (Senior Manager).
But it all comes back to the people. During my first few months I worked with several project teams with an Assistant Director who encouraged me to take opportunities such as working directly with the Partner on each project, which gave me more exposure, more responsibility. I’ve had the opportunity to work on some exciting and high profile transactions since I’ve been at EY. My team have always been very supportive while pushing me forwards with new challenges and responsibilities.
We support each other in the way we work. It’s not your typical 9-5 environment and the work is unpredictable at times. There’s a big emphasis on working flexibly. This means keeping each other informed of where we are if not in the office, being up front about what we expect from the project team and what the Partners expect, being clear about deadlines etc. so that we are still giving our clients the best service at all times.
I’ve now been at EY for four and a half years. I still enjoy the work and love that every project is different. More importantly, I don’t feel like a small fish in a big pond who goes unnoticed, I feel I am valued – and that everybody matters at EY.