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Leading in efficiency at work and at home

Kevin Brathwaite’s story

RFP
Coach KevinI enjoy my time with my sons in travels, at home, everywhere; we all appreciate my being named Grant Thornton’s Dad of the Year.
Mini sprints make for great, productive teamwork. The idea is to break big tasks into small tasks and dedicate a limited time to them. I designate the tasks with a call of “Let’s do this together”; the timer is set for a Fast 5 or a Focus 15 — five minutes or 15 minutes — and everyone chips in until time’s up. Knowing that it’s for just a short span, we work at top speed. We’re efficient, and we earn immediate satisfaction.

This combines concepts from the firm’s Agile methodology and Resource Optimization solutions — always being on the lookout for the most efficient way to measure processes and optimize resources.

I heartily endorse this approach. Given my background in industrial engineering, focusing on efficiency comes naturally. As a director in Grant Thornton’s Public Sector practice, I enjoy learning about operations in federal government, understanding how individual agencies function and choosing the best practices to help them to be more efficient. I embrace opportunities to work with clients on projects that interest me. Grant Thornton’s size was appealing — the firm is large enough to provide a range of different opportunities and small enough for great connections across colleagues and leadership.

Kevin with his son as a babies Throughout the twins’ lives, I’ve been grateful for a flexible work schedule.
In this spirit of connectiveness, I work to create a sense of community and knowledge sharing among our industrial engineers, Operations Research System Analysts and workforce analytics practitioners. We do this for the sake of others in the firm, as well as for industrial engineering candidates.

Collaboration like this is the product of the firm’s culture. Another is flexibility, which as a single parent I appreciate. I often begin work between 5 and 6 a.m. so that after 7 I can help my boys start their virtual school day. In addition, I’ve always been able to work into the evening and on the weekend to balance weekday hours away for my sons’ needs. This comes from being able to share my schedule informally with my team and leadership.

The firm is deliberate in its commitment to working parents. I appreciated parental leave that allowed me to be with my sons in their first two months. Benefits have been generous all along, and during the pandemic Grant Thornton has provided extra consideration that has been critical to coping with the disruptions. We have additional backup childcare days, and flexibility has been emphasized. A great deal of information like this is disseminated in the Working Parents business resource group, or BRG, where I co-lead programming. I felt drawn to that role, wanting to identify programs relevant to parents and their children, and create a community for parents. Besides ongoing programming, we are exploring a virtual Take Your Child to Work Day, curated educational resources and extracurricular activities for children, and navigation tips for new parents. Also, as a single father I can bring perspectives that aren’t always well known.

Kevin hands onI’ve always been a hands-on dad.
Parents aren’t in it for recognition, so I was completely surprised and grateful to be named the firm’s 2020 Working Dad of the Year. The award followed Working Mother Magazine placing Grant Thornton on its list of 2020 Best Companies for Dads. Some colleagues, in their congratulations to me, described lessons learned that I’ve shared over the years. One referred to my admitting to a failed experiment in getting my twin sons to eat spinach. I had tried blending spinach into their milk and, in hopes they wouldn’t notice, used colored cups. I told her it worked for all of three days before one son figured it out.

Experimenting with time and project management has been more successful. My sons, Keaton and Parker, and I try different ways to accomplish household chores. I’ve brought home the concept of Fast 5s and Focus 15s — for example, for folding laundry and putting it away. One night, everyone takes a pile. On another night, we take the entire pile and set ourselves up in an assembly line. On a third night, we specialize by shirts, pants and sheets. We track each attempt and compare results. How did the three ways work? Was there a bottleneck in any of them? If so, what can we do to fix it?

One other example is “Morning Manager.” When Keaton and Parker had a 9:00 a.m. Saturday swimming class, on alternating weeks one would be responsible for keeping us on task to leave the house by 8:45 a.m.. He would use a to-do list, moving the three of us from one step to the next. Now that they’re older and have complex school projects, it comes as second nature to make a checklist, gauge the overall and incremental time needed, and follow through to achievement.

At home as at work, I believe in these learning experiences for individual and team satisfaction in getting the job done efficiently.