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From the structured world of the Civil Service to the transformative corridors of BDO, Jonathan's career journey is a testament to the power of opportunity and the importance of a supportive work environment. With a rich tapestry of experiences, from health and safety administration for HS2 to navigating the complexities of Deal Advisory - Transaction Services administration, Jonathan found his calling at BDO, where culture and personal growth go hand in hand. His story is one of resilience, adaptability, and the pursuit of a workplace where being yourself isn't just accepted—it's celebrated. Let's step into Jonathan's shoes and explore how BDO has become the launchpad for his ambitions and a sanctuary for his aspirations.

Two men wearing suits looking at the camera taking a selfie
Hi Jonathan! Tell us, what was your background before joining BDO?

Well, I previously worked in the Civil Service as a temp worker, but as always happens, I ended up being there for two and a half years!

Eventually I took a different role in a fixed term contract as part of the pre-work for the HS2 railway build, responsible for administration in health and safety.

I then moved back to the Civil Service but post-covid the team and the culture had changed quite a lot, so I found myself looking for my next opportunity.

Luckily, I had a great network around me and after a chat with a friend who had a connection at BDO, they passed my CV along for an administration role, which felt like a great opportunity for me to progress.

I had never really known what I wanted to do, so the opportunity to have conversation with a Senior PA helped me understand what the role of an Administrator/PA was, and that I realised that BDO was the right place for me (plus a bit of Google searching helped as well!).

OK, then why did you decide to choose BDO and what makes you stay?

Well, firstly I didn’t know anything about BDO! I was really interested in learning more, so the culture report was a great place to start. I got a lot of information and context about the working environment here, in particular the emphasis that the firm placed on culture and people. That was important to me given my experience of different work places in the past.

What I wanted at that point was opportunity and stability – having done fixed term, temporary positions for a while, I was at a point where I wanted to feel like I had a future.

I was seeking a workplace where the culture was genuinely embraced rather than just lip service. It was essential for me to find a secure environment considering previous experiences, which included encounters with workplace bullying. A supportive and safe workplace was a priority for me.

In addition to these concerns, I am fully deaf in my right ear and have partial hearing loss in my left ear since birth which has progressively impacted my hearing capabilities. (side note: hearing loss and deafness is not a one size fits all situation) and for me, the importance of a workplace where I can feel secure and accepted as a gay male cannot be overstated.

Step up, BDO! The ideas of being able to “bring your whole self to work” and “be yourself” were important to me, and they came across well in the culture at BDO.

Initially, I was quite sceptical about culture statements, particularly when it had gone wrong in previous workplaces (having concerns about it being all talk, but no action!).

However, when you look at what BDO offers – initiatives like the CSR days, a generous allowance of 10 days a year for employee volunteering and the encouragement to participate, coupled with a genuine recognition of diverse cultures and celebrations, it becomes clear that there's always something meaningful in motion and that BDO genuinely invests in these values.

So ultimately, I wanted a career, I wanted to stop moving and settle into a company. I've found that sense of permanence and opportunity at BDO.

And what does your day-to-day role look like?

It might sound like a cliché, but it's true that no two days are the same for me. There is always something that needs to be done and by effectively prioritising my tasks, I ensure that my work remains dynamic and far from monotonous.

My responsibilities shift based on the teams’ needs and the tasks at hand. One day I might be immersed in comprehensive reports, and the next I could be printing and binding for pitch activity. That variety of the role is so apparent even over the different teams within the National Business Support (NBS) stream.

It's clear to me that the best approach is grounded in the mindset of 'I may not know the answer now, but I will go figure it out', which builds confidence within my team to trust me to get the right result. Pausing and taking a moment to really listen and grasp what people require, and the timing of those needs, means my day-to-day role is never the same.

So how would you describe your job to a complete novice?

Every day is different and when I open my inbox, I am never sure what I will be met with, there might be 20 things to do, and by lunchtime it’ll be up to 50. On those days, if I manage to whittle it down to 48, I count that as a win.

What opportunities for the future are you excited for at BDO?

Honestly, within my team and my role, there are so many opportunities to go in different directions. The exposure and variety of tasks available, is really helpful to carve out your career.

What I like about the NBS stream is that you are completely empowered to go and find the answers yourself – it's a combination of the knowledge you have, the connections you make and your ability to find solutions. Someone out there has the answer you need and that gives me a lot of autonomy and creativity to learn along the way.

While I've faced challenges with my hearing over time, the firm's shift towards a more digital environment has been beneficial. It has allowed me to shape the way I approach tasks and make decisions.

You've probably heard some misconceptions about BDO or accounting before you joined, right?

I had no huge concerns, given my experience of transitioning through various roles over the years and surely starting at BDO wouldn’t be all that different.

What I have noticed – and probably what I wasn’t expecting – is the pace at which things move at BDO. It's a marked change from the more measured tempo I've encountered in previous positions.

It can be quite difficult when you first start, given you need to learn a whole new language – the acronyms and the processes can be baffling. Before I started, I just thought “tax is money that goes out of your payslip”. However, engaging with colleagues here really broadens your perspective. It's not overwhelming, if you lean into it, there's a wealth of knowledge to be gained and I like to keep that perspective.

Being given the trust and the opportunity to develop myself has been helpful for my professional career – I’ve been able to learn more but also relieve pressure on my team as well.

So how do you relax outside work?

Running has become a cornerstone of my well-being – I set myself the target of completing a half marathon each year. My aspiration is to run a full marathon, with the London Marathon being the dream (as I only want to do this once).

Running emerged as a lifeline when I was grappling with my mental health. Whilst working with a personal trainer and hitting the gym provided a solid foundation for stability, running offered something more – it was a chance to get outdoors and clear my mind, all while saving a bit of money.

I created personal milestones and challenges that allowed me to disconnect from the daily grind and immerse myself in the simple act of moving forward.

Jogging along the canal, in particular, brings me joy. It's there that I witness the world awakening from a sleepy winter to summer's vibrancy, serving as reminder of the natural rhythm and progression of life.

Jonathan's narrative is more than a career chronicle it's a beacon for anyone seeking a place where their work is as valued as their well-being. At BDO, he's not just an Administrator/PA he's a vital part of a team that thrives on speed, innovation, and personal empowerment. As he laces up his running shoes and sets his sights on the marathon of his dreams, Jonathan embodies the BDO ethos of balance and personal achievement. His journey with BDO is a reminder that the right environment can turn a job into a career and a workplace into a community. Here's to the many miles and milestones ahead for Jonathan and the BDO team, where every step is a stride towards a brighter, more inclusive future.