Harrison Preston’s story

CommissioningFor all of us at Grant Thornton, client relationships are built gradually as they come to trust our advice and assistance. In my case, a bond with our public sector clients is forged even before work begins. This is because as an infantry platoon leader in the Virginia Army National Guard, I am a fellow employee of the United States government. This kinship forms an additional sense of partnership with my civilian employer, Grant Thornton.

The connection is mutually beneficial to my employers. For one thing, I know all about adhering to strict government requirements. On behalf of Grant Thornton, I apply this knowledge to assisting our public sector clients with strategy and performance improvement.

For me, it’s a blessing that the firm’s leadership respects and supports the demands of military service. Leaders have been flexible about my time away in Army training. When I had a four-month training session, resources were temporarily brought in to help with my workload. It was a great relief since there was no gap in client service and because I can be in the field for a week without phone or internet connection.
Happy facesTo keep me informed about projects, my managers, colleagues and I check in on each other from time to time. When I return, there’s not a big pile of work waiting. I’m able to pick up on what I had been working on and get up to speed on anything new.

My Grant Thornton client is the Army Chaplain Corps. I work for Grant Thornton in the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, assisting with process improvement initiatives for HR and workforce planning. I’m also in the public sector division of the Department of Defense, engaged in budget planning, programming and implementation. I enjoy my assignments in an environment where clients relate so well to me because of our shared military experience.

GT VeteransAnother rewarding part of my work at Grant Thornton is helping veterans transition to civilian working life. The transition can be difficult for them, depending on their military experience and specialty. They have been experts in their own field of operations and employees in a large organization. While transitioning veterans excel in leadership and complex problem solving, the corporate hiring process can be daunting in its difference from military promotion boards. To help them in the transition, our Public Sector Veterans and Allies Business Resource Group partners with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program. We bring in service members from all military branches for an introduction to both the program and commercial industry as a whole. Grant Thornton HR professionals prepare them for interviews, describe typical hiring processes, and guide them in translating their experience and skills to a meaningful resume. Senior firm leadership coaches them on corporate vocabulary.

We also inform companies involved in the program about the potential of these former service members. Our team often passes along resumes from these events to Grant Thornton engagement managers, and the firm has offered internships. Those with a government security clearance are valuable candidates for future jobs with our D.C. office.

CIC teamIn addition to the Hiring Our Heroes program, I have had the privilege of representing the firm at the annual Service Academy Career Conference in Annapolis. Thousands of company representatives and U.S. military academy graduates attend in hopes of making an employment connection. Here again I am proud that Grant Thornton is active in reaching out to our veterans.

GT Softball teamI am also grateful that the firm reaches out to employees to encourage us to take charge of our professional development, I take seriously the advice to “Be the captain of your career.” My career with Grant Thornton is in my hands, fortified by support from my superiors and colleagues. I discuss my interests and concerns with engagement leadership, who listen to and act on my behalf, and when I tell them what I’d like to gain from an engagement or other opportunity, they help to make it happen.

My work with Grant Thornton and the Army is enriched in many ways, particularly by great teammates. The firm provides me with constant support through its leadership and culture, and even membership in another (off-duty) team — D.C. office softball. It’s yet another way Grant Thornton empowers military service members like me.