The new joiners at Grant Thornton's South East business

Grant Thornton UK LLP is set to welcome 15 new joiners to its South East team this year, as part of the leading business and financial adviser’s largest ever nationwide intake of graduates and school leavers.

The new starters, which includes a mix of placements, graduates, and school leavers, will join two key departments in the Gatwick-based business, with 12 starting their careers in audit and three in tax.

This year, a record number of new school leavers and graduates will be starting their careers at Grant Thornton, with a combined total of 496 people joining the firm via these routes. Of this, 213 school leavers will be welcomed onto Grant Thornton’s apprenticeship programme, which is a 13% increase compared to 2022 (188) and the highest number ever to join the firm in one admission.

For the first time, nationally, the firm’s audit department – which hires the largest number of trainees in the business – saw more school leavers than graduates start at the function.


As well as welcoming its new trainee intake, the firm, which is a founding member of Access Accountancy, offered 218 work experience placements to sixth form students through the scheme this year – a significant increase compared to 2022 (131).

John O’Mahony, Gatwick practice leader at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “At Grant Thornton, we’ve been evolving our approach to identifying talent, with more of a focus on future potential and strengths, as opposed to past achievements and academic profile. Our emphasis on increasing our school leaver intake has allowed us to access a new, diverse talent pool that we would previously have been missing.

“I’ve been amazed to see the wealth of accomplished and adept new starters that have joined the firm this year. This is a real testament to the culture we’ve developed, which is designed to help people advance their careers in a supportive and nurturing environment. It’s vital that we upskill the next generation of accountancy professionals and invest in their future in this way, to ensure that they can fulfil their potential.”

Isabelle Pacanins Colban, a 23-year-old Audit Associate from Hayward’s Heath, joined Grant Thornton’s Gatwick office this year after graduating from Leeds Beckett University with an MA in Corporate Governance. She said: “Having studied a masters in Corporate Governance with an emphasis on regulation, I began working at the Financial Reporting Council in its Audit Firm Supervision Team and was introduced to the sector. I discovered that I enjoyed the field and would like to be able to progress in it by being an auditor myself.

“Therefore, when I discovered that Grant Thornton had an office close to where I lived it felt like a great match. The company itself seems as I expected, with strong values and support for its employees and an emphasis on continuous improvement and quality.”

Fellow 23-year-old Audit Associate Jonathan Allen also joined Grant Thornton’s South East business this year after achieving a BSc in Business and Management from the University of Exeter. He said: “I always wanted to work for a company where there is continuous growth and improvement, and where I can see myself developing personally and professionally. Grant Thornton has received numerous awards highlighting its commitment to its employees, alongside a strong culture of empowerment and providing opportunities to grow and develop. I’m really enjoying it so far and feel very comfortable, it’s exactly what I thought the culture would be and I like that every single person is willing to help, whether it’s a senior manager or another associate.”

Okeme Nelson-Akajagbo joined Grant Thornton’s Gatwick office as an apprentice three years ago following a foundation year in Business with the aim of doing a Finance degree. Instead, he decided to take a different route. He said: “It was while I was taking a foundation year in Business that I realised apprenticeships were an option. I’d never considered them before, but the fact that I could start working straight away appealed to me. Joining as an apprentice also means that not only will I qualify without debt, but I will also qualify earlier than if I went to university.

“I’m coming up to the end of my first three years at Grant Thornton and am really pleased I chose this route, I’ve learnt so much on the job and have had opportunities I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t joined the apprentice programme. My advice to others considering a career in accounting is to just go for it. It’s a really interesting and varied career.”