Motivated by ideation, opportunities, challenges

Irene Yang’s story

Irene YangStretch goals are healthy; in this NYC marathon, I shaved 25 minutes from my first time around
My role at Grant Thornton as director of Innovation is ever-evolving. It allows me to get directly engaged in bringing new ideas and opportunities to the table and tackling the material challenges for our firm and our clients. We have a great foundation for innovation, which makes the firm an exciting place to be. I’m able to explore many technology solutions and make big strides forward to transform the business.

I joined the firm last year, in many respects because of what the Innovation principal saw in me and what I could bring to the firm. He empowers his people and ensures he is accessible and stays engaged. He and other leaders have been instrumental in my ability to lead the innovation charge. I’m pleased to work for a company with such a strong culture and to be able to apply my diverse experiences.

Irene YangOur award-winning Ideation team
On innovation
Innovation, to me, starts with having an idea or vision that breaks boundaries. It rides the waves of rapid changes in customer demand, technology and competition to accelerate growth. It requires talented and passionate people with fresh thinking. This describes the ingredients of the Ideation platform I launched, and the teams I lead and work with on a daily basis. Through the ideation platform’s enterprise collaboration capabilities, our firm is able to leverage our best asset — the collective minds of our people — to generate ideas we can turn into innovative solutions and/or improvements.

Our firm leverages our best asset — the collective minds of our people — to generate ideas to turn into innovative solutions and/or improvements. I’m in a unique position to help bring this together and witness the gritty process of nurturing ideas from good to great, tapping the experts within the firm along the way to create something greater than the sum of the parts. I see our employees as the lifeblood of the firm, and our leaders as the arteries and vessels. The ideation platform is akin to the heart pumping all that vitality — the talent and ideas — through a healthy system.

Making my impact at Grant Thornton
Irene YangAttending the Inclusion Leadership Conference; diversity supports a shift from traditional to new
Being the lead for the Ideation platform has been an incredible and enjoyable journey. I’ve been able to bring my initial idea and vision to fruition, expanding the many use cases. Technology like the Ideation platform helps us break through typical silos and barriers that can inhibit creativity, diversity and fearless innovation. It gives everyone a channel for their voice to be heard. Over 30% of our employees have now utilized the platform, and we’re now integrating the tool, its capabilities and best practices into service offerings tailored to meet our clients’ needs.

Innovation is a journey that starts with ideation. Accelerating the process of innovation is not a simple recipe; it gets into the art of “how” we innovate as much as “what” we innovate. The blend of idea crowdsourcing, evaluation and portfolio management can be powerful when executed properly. Being highly selective in the ideas we invest our time in and strategic in decision-making process are also key.

When we set out to leverage the crowdsourcing aspect of the platform to collect ideas and feedback, we piloted many campaigns, and tested and learned. Through that process, we’ve established a firm-wide operating model that empowers our business lines to manage and accelerate their own ideation processes, transforming them from aspiration to reality.

Irene YangEnjoying a new experience far from my routine and home
Our exciting journey will continue; we’ll take the Ideation platform capabilities to our clients and bring our ecosystem of partners, vendors and our international member firms together to co-innovate openly. This level of open innovation is what will drive the future and fuel exponential growth. And it will continue to shape how we work at Grant Thornton.

I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to nurture a vision and execute it, and enjoy the support of my colleagues who are just as passionate and excited as I am about the art of the possible.