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Long-lasting value in work-life integration

Dan Voogt’s story

RFP
Enjoying being Grant Thornton’s Working Dad of the Year
CamoMy family on a Make-a-Wish trip
I've heard Grant Thornton leadership promote "work-life integration" over "work-life balance." I take this to heart, particularly through my involvement with the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, where I serve on two boards. My job and my board commitment have blended naturally in ways such as discussing the firm’s services with fellow board members and bringing my family to the office to promote the hospital. This integration has made it possible for my colleagues get to know me on a more personal level; it has led to client connections and appears to have helped earn me the title Grant Thornton Working Dad of the Year.

Being a dad is one of the greatest joys of my life. Kids force you to think less about yourself and more about others. Having several children helps you identify and appreciate different types of personalities, which can help you understand your colleagues and clients better.

Brouwer, age 7, engages with everyone he meets. Banner, age 5, loves me to teach him how to fix things. Willa, age 3, just loves to cuddle and likes me to treat her babies like they’re real — feed them, tuck them into bed, etc. Myrtle, age 1, and I have a funny tradition. After the other kids go to sleep, Myrtle and I sneak into the kitchen and snack on Oreos. It’s our little thing.

Dan Voogt familyMy family at a hospital fundraiser
My involvement with the hospital started when Brouwer, at age 2, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. One of my first thoughts was that I couldn’t work at Grant Thornton anymore because I had to focus on Brouwer, and my job as manager in Audit Services was demanding (demands can be greater now that I’m senior manager). Chemotherapy kept our son in the hospital from morning into evening; I needed to be with him then and for weeks between treatments. But a partner spoke to firm leadership and worked with me to put my family first. And she called me regularly to ask how things were going. Thanks to Grant Thornton’s generous flexibility, I still haven’t missed a visit.

There’s a high level of trust and autonomy here. Each of us is seen as a person with unique situations; you’re not just an employee with tasks to do. That level of caring is in our culture. It’s a collaborative environment — my colleagues have stepped up when I’m away, and they’re interested in my son and my hospital work. It’s because of the culture that I’ve been able to not just continue at Grant Thornton but also thrive in my job.

MRIBrouwer’s treatment began at age 2. He’s a trooper in checkups.
CycleNation: riding for the American Heart AssociationBrouwer eager to speak to my colleagues to raise funds for the hospital

I’m thriving in my commitment at Lurie’s, as well, along with others from Grant Thornton. Two of us from the firm were involved at Lurie’s a few years ago; since then, seven more people have joined the hospital’s boards. And people continue to approach me about helping in some capacity. As a result, some volunteer more than 100 hours per year.

Grant Thornton has made commitments, too. Three years ago, I asked if the firm would be willing to sponsor one of Lurie’s races. We’ve been the largest corporate sponsor — in amounts raised and participants — of Move for Kids ever since.

SeparatelyMy family at the right, ready for the race
The race has directly blended work and personal lives. My kids came to the office this year to help with a fundraising event attended by over 200 people. One reason so many came is that beforehand, Brouwer went desk to desk to personally invite them. Then at the event, he got up on a chair to tell 10 jokes for the crowd.

A lot of people in the office are familiar with my family’s story, and it opens up conversations for them to talk about their home life. It’s valuable for the firm; we transact with each other more efficiently because it’s easier to assume positive intent with people you know.

I'm proud to work for a company that has been so incredibly supportive through financial contributions to Lurie’s, allowing me flexibility to attend board meetings and events, and caring about my family during a health crisis.

Making my impact at Grant Thornton
EscalatorThe firm promotes the race in a big way
While my commitment to Lurie’s is for the benefit of children, it’s also translated into work for the firm. I have relationships with other companies’ board members, and as co-chair of corporate sponsorships I’m in touch with representatives of many other companies. These are companies Grant Thornton wants to serve, has now begun to serve or, in some cases, to further serve. Every time I leave a meeting I have two or three relationships to follow up on — a connection to make for Grant Thornton, a meeting to set up. It’s a mutually beneficial blend.

Another outcome of my work-life integration is showing our younger colleagues the opportunities to gain valuable experience and a wider range of skills through volunteering. I explain to them how being part of a board works and then get to watch them mature in their roles. It’s healthy for young professionals to be in that setting, take on different types of responsibilities and think philanthropically. On top of that, they understand their firm supports them in their dedication to outside causes, sometimes through a direct sponsorship of one of their board’s events. This direct engagement helps young board members realize that Grant Thornton is behind them in their efforts, and they recognize that they’re in a position to develop meaningful relationships.

Meet Grant Thornton’s Working Mother of the Year Angelica Roiz treasures her role as a mother and greatly values her career and empowering other women in her firm, profession and community.

Birthday princess
Meaningful relationships, I believe, are the reason I was nominated for an award by people who know my family and what we’ve dealt with, and see my passion about Lurie’s. The award relates to the firm being one of Working Mother magazine’s 2019 “Best Companies for Dads” for leadership in paternity and gender-neutral parental leave, flexible schedules, phase-back programs, and more. I’m grateful to have benefitted from the firm’s generosity, and I was honored to be named by Working Mother as Grant Thornton’s first Working Dad of the Year.

Through my experiences, I’ve learned that work time and personal time do not need to be completely separate. Finding ways to integrate work and home can allow you to meet professional and personal goals, add richness to life and increase appreciation for an employer that allows you to bring your whole self to work.