People are at the heart of everything we do, which is why we enjoy getting to know more about those who make Hazlewoods. The third person in our series is the recently appointed Associate Partner, Hannah Griffin. Hannah brings with her a down-to-earth and 'human' approach, with a wealth of forensic and litigation expertise gained from over 16 years of experience.
What drew you to accountancy?
Honestly, I fell into it! I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, and my father suggested it. Accountancy seemed to tick all the boxes of the things I enjoyed, such as analytical thinking and problem solving. I qualified with a small firm and was able to do a bit of everything there. They offered me good, all-round experience and as I discovered the areas that I liked the most, they encouraged me to do more work in them.
Good old dad. I now realise that my father knew me better than I knew myself.
How did your forensic career begin and what made you pursue that particular service?
I'd always had an interest in the police force and crime, from watching programmes like Silent Witness. The collapse of Barings Bank in the 90s fascinated me and whetted my appetite to find out more about forensic accounting. In my early years as a forensic accountant, I worked on several criminal cases but ended up preferring civil cases. However, that's where I learnt the importance of being fluid, accepting of change and remaining open-minded to new opportunities.
A turning point for me and I suppose where it all really started, was when I joined Grant Thornton and did a secondment in forensics. Even though I got lost on my way to the interview and was over an hour late, my boss turned out to be a very genuine person, who truly wanted to support my development. He, alongside many other individuals, helped me to find my way into the area I got a kick out of the most. It's all about the people you work with who give you the best inspiration for discovering and pursuing your passion.
Why did you choose a new opportunity at Hazlewoods?
I have always struggled with imposter syndrome. However, COVID-19 provided a period for me to reflect and I realised life was too short. I saw a new opportunity, had nothing to lose, everyone around me was saying I could do it and I had worked really hard over the years to build up strong contacts and provide a quality service. So, I went for it.
I was really taken with Hazlewoods. They are a forward-thinking organisation - streets ahead in terms of sector focus. They stood out as a mid-tier firm and I realised that the type of work I did would lend itself well to the types of clients and expertise Hazlewoods have.
My first impression of the people at Hazlewoods has been great. Everyone has been so welcoming and encouraging. I immediately felt like I was part of a team, surrounded by people that I can really learn from and grow with. We are all continuously learning and so it is good to be in an environment that's innovative yet supportive.
In my interviews, I met with HR Director, Sue Golding, and Partner, Ruth Dooley. They were easy to talk to, conversation flowed and honestly, we had fun. I remember looking at the clock and asking, 'how have we been here for an hour and a half already?'
With just a couple of weeks into the role, how have you found the experience so far?
After a solid 17 months at home, it is great to be back in an office! Everyone has been friendly and I'm finding I'm able to have a joke and a giggle with the people I meet – something I like to do and that I feel is important. Time certainly doesn’t stand still though, there were already three business opportunities waiting for me on the day I arrived, and another landed the following day!
When applying for the role, you obviously don’t get a full understanding of who you'll be working with, both in terms of fellow employees, clients, or contacts. Now that I've learnt more about them, it has really impressed me. There is clear evidence of real expertise and calibre, which has propelled my excitement and motivation for the role further.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role going forward and do you have any particular aspirations for the future?
I feel there are some exciting times ahead. I'm looking forward to developing the forensics practice and expanding on the type of work that we do. My aim is to see a dedicated forensics team grow over time, bringing in revenue alongside the other well established Hazlewoods sector/service specialisms.
Based on the impressive law firms that we'll be working with, I am also looking forward to being up against an aggressive Barrister and giving my first evidence in a case.
Who has influenced or inspired you when it comes to how you approach your work?
I would have to say my two former bosses from Grant Thornton and EY. They both had different styles but were my sponsors and were always behind me in the progression of my career. I knew I could always count on their honesty and integrity, even though I may not have been overly receptive to some development areas!
I did struggle to answer this question because I also believe that a strong team can inspire your approach and attitude to work. You really can't beat coming together without a hierarchy and just sharing ideas. There are so many people that have helped me develop my own style - too many to name!
What piece of advice would you give to someone just beginning their career?
Follow your heart and do what you enjoy – although I feel that the younger generation are quite good at this. You have to find something that you want to get out of bed for.
It is also important to take opportunities as they present themselves – just give it a go, you never know what will happen.
Who would you most like to meet/have met and why?
I think it would have to be Robin Williams. I grew up on Mork & Mindy and considered him to be an amazing actor. His struggles with life were devastating, so I would have liked to meet the ‘real’ Robin Williams and had a chat with him.
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