Empowered to be entrepreneurial

Shelby Duncan’s story

Shelby DuncanA helicopter ride in Kauai on my birthday
Grant Thornton has provided me with a unique opportunity to shape my career and pursue projects that are of interest to me — both inside and outside of the office. I have supportive and respectful leaders who allow me to identify problems across our organization and solve them with unique solutions. They have sparked my entrepreneurial spirit.

In the office, I work for the Innovation Team as the operations manager. This role allows me to be the “Jackie of All Trades”; I help to manage our budget, our people and our strategy. In addition to the day-to-day operations of the team, I am the facilitator of the Blockchain Circle, a concept unique to the firm. The Blockchain Innovation Circle acts as a centralized, interdisciplinary group of blockchain professionals who set and execute the strategy for our blockchain-related services and solutions.

Shelby DuncanMy grandfather with me at graduation; I’m the first in my family to graduate from college.
One of the challenges that the Blockchain Circle had to overcome was breaking down organizational silos and centralizing competing go-to-market strategies within our blockchain offerings. Through servant leadership, we were able to recruit a diverse set of professionals to come together and deepen their understanding of each other’s roles. This information sharing has proved to be invaluable; it provides us with an opportunity to maximize our greatest asset — our people. By incorporating their knowledge, we have created a set of offerings and solutions that maximize value for our clients.

Shelby DuncanMy cohort at the start of my MBA program
Outside the office, the firm has supported my pursuit of an MBA at the NYU Stern School of Business by allowing me to transition from a client-facing role to my current one. The leaders within my group are supportive of my educational pursuits and are always excited to hear what I bring from the classroom to our day-to-day operations. Being able to pursue my MBA at a top business school is something I am immensely proud of. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, and now I will be the first person to complete a master’s degree. The firm has supported my ability to chase dreams I never thought I’d have the opportunity to pursue.

Making my impact at Grant Thornton Anytime I have an opportunity to act in a leadership capacity, it is important to me to provide access to others to participate. I believe that ideas should be selected based on their merit and that people who are willing to contribute deserve opportunities to grow their skills.

Shelby DuncanCore Blockchain Circle leaders and members in a design-thinking session
In support of this belief, I have worked to ensure that the workstreams within the Blockchain Circle are led by young men and women in our firm who volunteer for the role. I believe it is important to pass on the exposure and opportunities that have been offered to me and ensure that our teams are engaged and excited about the work they are doing. Everyone is welcome to practice leadership skills in this forum and gain other new skills — whether related to blockchain, agile project management or go-to-market strategy.

We leverage the Blockchain Circle as a learning tool and live training ground for growing the future leaders of the firm. As a firm, we are excited about the potential that blockchain technology has for our organization and are proud of our abilities to audit 40 different cryptocurrencies. We are glad that we can bring practicality, controls and risk mitigation to a technology that has yet to be fully adopted.

As of fall 2020, I’m a manager in Transformation.