Growing leadership skills

Many university graduates come to EY through a graduate programme – but not Alison Lennie. After her studies, she joined our Glasgow-based Restructuring team straight away and forged her own path to success.

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Alison Lennie

In 2017, Alison Lennie was working in our Restructuring team when she was invited to a dinner with other high performers in Scotland. “It was a roundtable hosted by Steve Varley, the EY UK&I Chairman. He wanted us to share our views with him – it was fascinating to hear his perspective.”

When Alison saw a temporary role as Steve’s Chief of Staff advertised six weeks later, she jumped at the chance to apply. “I didn’t think I’d be chosen for the job, since I’m not based in London – but I'm so glad I was,” she says. “It was an amazing experience, which gave me lots of insight into how our business is run. It fits together like a jigsaw.”

Making the move to Core Business Services

As is often the case, one opportunity led to another. “Off the back of my secondment with Steve, I was offered my current position as Chief of Staff to the UK & Ireland Markets Leader. It’s a challenging leadership role, where no two days are the same,” says Alison.

As part of Core Business Services, her focus is on creating commercial success for EY. It can be high pressure, especially when dividing her time between the Glasgow and London offices. “They’re very different, but I love both of them. London can be fast-paced, while Glasgow is so personable - everyone knows everyone.” 

When asked if she’d ever move to London permanently, Alison laughs. “I’m quite happy to travel, but I don’t think I’d ever settle there. I prefer being surrounded by the green fields around Glasgow.”

Developing skills and leadership qualities

Alison puts part of her success down to an accelerated leadership programme for high-potential individuals at EY. “It helped me develop my skills and pushed me outside my comfort zone. One of our challenges was to give a presentation on stage at a theatre in London’s West End. We were filmed and then critiqued by our peers– it felt quite brutal at the time! But it was a powerful experience that helped build my confidence.”

As well as training, she says the support of senior colleagues has been invaluable. “I’m part of EY’s Career Watch programme, which is aimed at developing women and BME employees by providing dedicated career sponsors at senior level.”

Alison’s sponsor supported her development and helped set professional goals to further her career. “Having a senior sponsor who’s there to offer guidance has been invaluable. “It’s great to have someone else looking out for you, alongside your manager and career counsellor.”

Find your role in our Glasgow team