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sacha romanovitch calls for ‘a new normal’ for business

As the first female CEO of a major accountancy firm, Sacha Romanovitch is no stranger to re-defining normal.

Speaking with Michael Hayman in the latest episode of Change Makers, the Grant Thornton head cites collaboration and partnership as the new pillars of successful business.

“We’ve moved from a world of abundance, to a world of constrained resources,” she says. “Some of the challenges we’re facing as a country require cross-collaboration.”

Through engagement with Grant Thornton’s extensive network, the firm is bringing companies and individuals together to help shape a “profits-with-purpose” world, through its Vibrant Economy programme.

Inspiring people, particularly younger generations, to believe they can make a real impact on the future is one of Vibrant Economy’s main goals. For the last three years, the firm has been spotlighting ‘Faces of a Vibrant Economy’, selecting 100 leaders each year as role-models, all celebrated for their innovation, growth and purpose.

Inspiration and optimism are stances Sacha looks to start from. Another part of Vibrant Economy, Vibrant Capital, looks at the future of London and how cross-sector collaboration can help make the most of the city’s opportunities while meeting challenges head on.

Vibrant Capital asks how London can use its unique status as the UK’s financial, legal and digital tech centre, to bring wealth and benefit to the whole country. But also, how is it playing its part as a global city.

“It’s like having New York, Washington and San Francisco all in one place,” she says.

Just as with a Vibrant Economy, Sacha wants Grant Thornton to be a place where everyone can contribute. As CEO, Sacha has implemented a shared ownership model, to “liberate” its 4,500 employees from top-down leadership.

There’s no playbook for going down these new pathways according to Sacha. “You’ve got to prove the model works. There will be rocks in the road and you have to be resilient to that.

“All of us mess up sometimes. The people who try to hide it are those you never trust again. The people who say, ‘I’m sorry, I got that wrong, here’s what I’m doing about it’ are the ones you trust.”

Trust, collaboration, purpose. These aren’t themes of business models gone by. Sacha’s approach with Grant Thornton, Vibrant Economy and now with the government’s Inclusive Economy Partnership, is certainly a shift. As Sacha puts it, “I can either sit back and let the world happen to me, or I can step forward to try and influence it.”

Watch Sacha’s ‘The Change Makers’ interview here.

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