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Strong on culture, connections and equality

Brenna Coogle’s story

RFP
Brenna Coogle Several of us from Grant Thornton at an Out and Equal conference gala
I’ve come alive in an organization that puts its people first.

I joined Grant Thornton because of its good reputation. I stay because of its stellar culture and people. Right now is a great time to work at Grant Thornton. We’re growing and changing, making serious investments in continuing our culture journey. I know this because I’m deeply involved in culture development and training. Nothing fills up my cup more than helping new employees learn about our culture and why this is such an awesome place.

The journey has been both mine and the firm’s. Years ago at my first promotion, Mike McGuire (who would later become our CEO) addressed our new manager class with a primary message about people — making connections and interacting, learning how to team with our internal colleagues, and building great relationships with our clients. He said if we want to be high-performing — the best — as a firm and as individuals, it all comes back to people. I’ve been fulfilled by taking part in this cultural evolution and watching Mike step into the CEO role to lead the firm through it.

Brenna CoogleGabe’s first of many firm events: our interns’ charity fundraiser
It’s because of this environment that I’ve had support in meeting my goals. When I expressed a desire to grow my financial operations capabilities, I was given the chance to land my current position of director of operations in Business Risk Services. In addition, I’ve been able to stretch as leader of the California Market Territory. I’m also training and facilitating, which I love. I tell my leadership team about my goals, and they go out of their way to seek opportunities for me. One of the leaders promised they’d keep finding ways to ignite my passion.

Leaders also trust that I will balance my overall life — career and home. As my son got older and into more activities, I wanted to minimize travelling. Now I serve our own people as internal clients instead of flying to external client headquarters. I appreciate the flexibility to craft my schedule to be present for important work and family events. Learning how to maintain a balance has been due in large part to connections with the firm’s other working moms and great role models.

I tell my leadership team about my goals, and they go out of their way to seek opportunities for me. Supporting each other is actively promoted, as is capitalizing on the benefits of a diverse workforce. A few years ago, a group of us formed the Equality GT business resource group, with BRG members and allies supportive of living out at work. As a gay professional and leader, I welcome open conversations. Back when I was new at the firm, I had questions of my own, such as, “Would it be okay to bring my wife to the holiday party?” I later knew it would have been more than okay; now, others can get answers immediately in their BRG.

I’m a strong advocate of Grant Thornton and our cultural values, the firm’s interest in individuals and its wisdom in knowing that happy people are productive people who do their best for themselves and their company. I’m always ready to talk about why I came to the firm and why I choose to stay. But really, a giant heart emoji would tell my Grant Thornton story just as well.

Brenna CoogleMy wife Shelley, our son Gabe and me at Gabe’s division-title-winning game
Brenna CoogleGabe making his pitching debut


Making my impact at Grant Thornton
Brenna CoogleThe inaugural Equality GT summit at firm headquarters
Those of us on the leadership team that formed Equality GT were inspired to do so after the firm sent us to the international Out and Equal conference a few years ago. I am still part of the BRG’s national leadership team, and I recently created the firm’s safe space program and lead all the training. It’s a visible way to show our support for the LGBT+ community with a physical space where they can belong. We have a network of mentorships connecting LGBT individuals and allies around the firm. We’ll soon launch a multipart learning curriculum available to anyone in the firm.

One of the initial thoughts around safe space was a team that said, As leaders, we will step forward and market ourselves as out at work. It took off significantly from there, and now we’re certifying people through learning modules. It’s really exciting. Fundamentally, it comes down to giving people the opportunity to build human connections with those like them.

Brenna CoogleOut and Equal Workplace Summit, Philadelphia
We’ve left it organic so participants can make out of the relationship anything they want. It could be you just want to talk to someone, or you have a question about our benefits or want to know about area organizations and events. So, outside of the impact that it’s having at the firm and the idea that it’s the right thing to do, we’ve seen amazing friendships grow from these connection points.

I’ve chosen to be a representative for diversity and inclusion, which is why I helped to form Equality GT and why I will continue to lead in the BRG. It’s also why I have become a culture facilitator, training at our new hire programs. In my training role, I tell new employees they have opportunities at Grant Thornton to make an impact earlier in their career than they might in other places. For me that was exceptionally true. I joined the firm as a senior associate, and with prior work experience and educational background, I met my goal of being promoted to manager on my one-year mark. I wanted to belong to an organization where I could grow aggressively. I’ve found that here.

I get to serve as an ambassador for our different and amazing culture. It fills up my cup. We all came to Grant Thornton for a reason, and I hope that reason for others is culture. I feel strongly aligned to that initiative and get to serve as an ambassador for our different and amazing culture. I’m happy and fulfilled in being able to make my impact in this way. It fills up my cup.