Calandra Layne's storyA growing career and family create demands I can balance because of strong networks — in the office and at home — and Grant Thornton’s flexibility.
I wear many hats. As a senior manager in the firm’s Public Sector Advisory practice, I lead the delivery of technical solutions and brand initiatives across the Risk Advisory Services and Financial Management Service lines. As a colleague, I am committed to mentorship of those I coach and support. As a professional deeply interested in my field, I hold leadership positions in related associations. As a promoter of the potential of women in the marketplace and the community, I serve on the local board of a national organization. And as a wife and mother, I take active part — to say the least — in my family’s home life.
This all adds up to very full days. They’d be unmanageable if not for my support networks and Grant Thornton’s readiness to help employees enjoy both a professional and a personal life.
My days would be unmanageable if not for my support networks and Grant Thornton’s readiness to help employees enjoy both a professional and a personal life. When I first considered joining the firm, its reputation for a positive, friendly environment was a big draw. In my previous job, a former Grant Thornton employee told me she had been as comfortable talking with senior partners as with her co-workers. “It’s all about the culture” — this is what I heard from others, too. I wanted to be part of that company. The opportunity came, and I jumped on it.
The firm support network was ready, and it’s continued to expand. I have deep individual relationships and have found treasures in two business resource groups — Women at Grant Thornton and the African-American & Allies. The Women at Grant Thornton’s Working Parents and Mentor Moms groups have been good friends to me. A Mentor Mom helped me manage the expectations of being a first-time mom and provided guidance in transitioning to/from maternity leave. She also introduced me to other women in the firm who had successfully expanded their families while continuing to grow their careers. But more importantly, she reminded me to prioritize myself and my children, encouraging me to enjoy this special time because Grant Thornton would be there for me through the journey.
Within Public Sector, we are a family. We take care of one another. When I’ve suffered unexpected loss or celebrated a special event, my Grant Thornton family has wrapped around me in support. When I’ve had work issues and challenges, I just have to let someone know I need a hand in solving them.
The firm’s culture shows up in all kinds of ways. Further support comes from the firm itself. That culture I had heard about? It shows up in all kinds of ways. As I’ve sought to expand my professional knowledge and credentials, Grant Thornton has offered incentives and endorsements as I’ve taken on various roles in industry associations.
The firm has provided opportunities to nurture every stage of my professional and personal growth. When I arrived here, I was young and single, steeped in my job and volunteering for our women’s groups. Now, 10 years later, I’m married, with three kids, but my professional growth hasn’t slowed down. The firm accommodates changes, with flexibility for leaves and working remotely. Firm leadership and co-workers are understanding when I’ve needed to slow down. And opportunities are opened when I’ve wanted to pick up the pace and stretch.
Grant Thornton accommodates changes, with flexibility for leaves and working remotely. The company itself has been stretching, growing year over year since I came onboard. In 2008, the Public Sector practice numbered about 500 employees. Client work has increased by leaps and bounds, and to keep up, our practice has grown by 70%. The strategy is exciting, and I’m doing what I can to show I’m developing my leadership skills along with this trajectory.
One of my leadership goals is empowering others. The firm provides a natural way for this to be done. In our coaching structure, managers and above are assigned individuals to help in their professional development. As a senior coach, I have coachees who in turn are coaches themselves. I work with my individuals on helping them achieve their goals, whatever they might be.
“I’m thrilled that my contributions have been meaningful to my colleagues.” My wholehearted belief in mentorship was a factor in the recognition I was recently honored to receive. In an award sponsored by the Woman at Grant Thornton business resource group, I was named Public Sector Working Mother of the Year. There were multiple endorsements in the Master Mentor and the Women of Achievement categories, and my team said I set an example for balancing professional and personal commitments. This means a lot to me because my favorite topic is work-life balance; it and mentorship align with the firm’s values of agility and respect. I’m thrilled that my contributions have been valuable to my colleagues.
The award further encourages me to take part in outside activities. I know that what I learn there informs my mentorship here. This includes my roles as the director of Social Media for the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Association of Government Accountants, the vice chair of Training Programs for the Association for Federal Enterprise Risk Management, and a member of the board of directors of the Junior League of Annapolis, an organization of women committed to promoting the potential of other women.
I was honored to be named Public Sector Working Mother of the Year, an award sponsored by the Women at Grant Thornton. Reaching my own potential is hugely boosted by my home support system — mainly my husband and my mom. When I need and can get additional help from my home or office network, there’s a better chance my sanity will be maintained. The firm’s flexibility has been instrumental in making that happen.