From recruitment to Learning & Development

Gemma Langton, from our Learning & Development team in EMEIA Financial Services, tells us more about her career journey to EY and how she came to work in L&D.

What makes you get out of bed and come to work every morning?

Other than the two days I work from home (where I get out of bed and roll into my home office), for me, the thing that gets me to my desk is my team, the people and the fact that I really enjoy what I do.

If you were a movie character, who would it be and why?

James Bond — because I love fast cars and it would also mean that I’d get to travel the world and drink martinis all day. If I could choose a TV character, I’d quite like to be Dr. Who. Purely because I could time travel and go to anyone in the world at any point, and that would be amazing.

Tell us a bit about your EY journey.

I joined EY in 2006, in Manchester, as part of the student recruitment team. My role was handling the summer interns, industrial placements and graduate programmes for all the North, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I am now based in the London Canary Wharf office, working in Learning and Development (L&D).

Why EY?

I think that a massive selling point for me is the culture and the people here at EY. I embrace flexible working and the fact that I get to work from home when needed. I’m trusted, and I trust my team to be flexible, which is very important to me. What’s also great about EY is the people. We are very people-focused at EY, and we always want to support and develop each other.

Tell us more about your background

When I left school after my A levels, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I decided not to go straight to university and instead get a job. I got a job at the Royal Opera House in London, working in their fundraising team just to earn some money for the time being. Whilst I was there, a job came up in human resources. I decided to move into that role, dealing with all of the HR matters of the company. It was a brilliant experience being able to work with all the people and the unions and, in this role, I realised I really love HR. At 21, I went to the University of Kent in Canterbury to study HR and Industrial Relations. When I finished, I searched for HR graduate jobs — but they were rare at the time and it was difficult. I then got a job in graduate recruitment at Norton Rose law firm. They had a very structured graduate programme, which I managed along with all their undergraduate programmes. After this, I was ready for a change and the idea of living somewhere different, so I made the move to EY Manchester in their student recruitment team. I still love working in HR and I sit in that team now here at EY. But I'm really pleased with my decision of going into the graduate recruitment role, because it gave me an idea of the future of our organisation and the type of talent we're bringing into the firm.

What about your hobbies outside of work?

My hobbies change depending on what phase I am going through. At the moment, I am into fitness, but it might change in the future. I currently have a personal trainer and have just started working with a charity called GoodGym. This charity connects people who are interested in fitness activities (mainly running) and older people in our area who are lonely. You run to their homes to either sit and have a chat over a cup of tea once a week to keep them company, or go in pairs (or trios) to do any jobs they might need done (for example, putting up curtains or tidying their garden). The idea is that you get fit while helping the community. It’s great! In addition, I absolutely love stand-up comedy. I used to organise comedy nights in London. It’s actually where I met my husband, who was performing one night. I’ve considered getting on stage to try it out a couple of times, but I think I’ll stick to making my friends laugh in the pub for now.

Tell us about the transition to working in learning & development

I've been at EY for 12 years now and have been part of several different teams. I started in the graduate recruitment team before managing a new programme called the EY Degree. I was then put on a full-time secondment to manage our graduate induction where I worked on creating a milestone event for new graduates. Everybody remembers their first day, so it was really important not only that we give the right messages and convey them well, but also that we provide a fantastic experience. In 2015, I had a secondment to EMEIA Financial Services to work on a learning event called the Learning Forum, where we brought 4,500 people together from across all of EMEIA FS for a two-day conference in Rome. It was all about bringing everyone together from Financial Services. I worked on that project for a year and then decided that it would be good for my development to get some experience in a different industry. After discussing it with my counsellor, I decided to take a career break for a year and went to work for a smaller firm, in a client-facing role. After the break, I returned to EY. I've been back for two years and am looking after UK Financial Services Learning and Development, as well as supporting our student induction programme.

If you had to list three things that you love about your role, what would they be?

I love all the opportunities that come with a role at EY. With student induction, I like working with the leadership and designing what they’re going to say, structuring what that event looks like, and thinking about the induction as a whole. I really enjoy creating that experience for students. I love working with the production company, and thinking about stage sets and branding. It gives me an opportunity to be a bit creative, and I really enjoy that. With the learning and development work, we're always thinking about what else we need to provide for our people and what are our people's learning needs. Our business is changing so fast, we're always looking ahead. There are lots of projects to be involved in and I get to collaborate with so many teams — there's no way I can just come in, do my job without speaking to probably three or four different teams and the business every week. I think that's important as well.

What are your tips for someone starting their career at EY?

1

Build up a great network of people. I found over the years my network of people have been invaluable, especially when you work in a big organisation like EY. You never know when you need to figure out who can help you with something or who you need to speak to. It also opens up opportunities. I think having a big network in a firm like this is really important.

2

Be open to opportunities and be interested in more than your immediate team or the tasks in front of you. Don’t just come in and do your job. Think about what's going on in the industry. Be open-minded to what opportunities you are presented with and always think go step ahead of what you're asked to do. 

3

Read the hot topics. Read what's going on in the business. Don't just think about what applies to you — think about what's going on in the wider world. Be aware of the changing world of work and how you can make the most of your skills during this change. 

4

Be interested in where the working world is headed. Think about all the changes and shifts we are seeing in the world, both now and what people are predicting for the future. How will digital, robotics and analytics affect you, your team and EY?  How I work at EY has changed so much in the last 12 years, flexible working being one example. It’s important to adapt and try to be future-focused.