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A Day in the Life. Episode 9: Tunmise Alakija

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Our ninth instalment of ‘A Day in the Life’ is written by Account Manager, Tunmise Alakija. After a refreshing holiday, Tunmise spent the day working from GrantTree’s offices near Old Street station. He had meetings, went out for a celebratory lunch with fellow new joiners, and rounded off the day with some meaningful self-reflection.

October 7th

Monday morning. My alarm rings and I peer through my quilt covers to check the time. 8 am. I’m exhausted and running on five hours of sleep after flying back late last night from a trip to Cologne. All good, though. We self-manage at GrantTree. That means, amongst other things, we choose when we start work and when we sign-off. So I just turn off my alarm and get the extra sleep I need to have a more productive day.

45 minutes later, I stretch over to grab my phone and send a message to the team on Slack: “working from home this morning, in the office later”.

First on today’s agenda is our daily stand-up meeting at 9.30 am, where the entire team comes together to give a quick status update and to air anything that’s been causing a block on our work. I usually take the stand-up for granted as the urge to just get started on work is a strong one, but I’m beginning to value it more as a time for the entire team to reset and focus on the bigger vision, which can sometimes be forgotten when involved in day-to-day execution.

Jeff, one of our team who works full time in Hawaii, pings me to ask if I’m able to jump on a call with a client at 11 am. I’m eager to get stuck in after a refreshing holiday, so I grab the opportunity with both hands. I check in with my team to get up to speed with progress on the work I handed over while away, and spend some time catching up on my emails. A client sends over their financial accounts which I scan through to identify any transactions that we could possibly include in an R&D Tax Credits claim – of which there are plenty!

My 11 am meeting gets shifted to tomorrow morning, so I head out and make my way to the office. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve complained to friends about my commute to Central London which, while not overly long, can be a mentally draining experience during rush hour. Thankfully, I can choose to spend a couple of hours at home and skip the rush, leading to a much smoother journey, and much more mental energy to put towards the things I want to focus on.

Rush hour skipped!

I usually juggle between working from home for the whole day and working in the office during the afternoon. Today is an office day as I miss the in-person contact with my colleagues (and the free fruit and snacks). 

Our flexible working policy means we’re given the freedom to work from anywhere we like, with many choosing to work from home, abroad and everywhere in-between. That does mean our office can be a little quiet, especially on Mondays, which definitely took some getting used to. But ultimately it’s about people choosing to work where they’ll be happiest and most effective – a benefit that’s worth its weight in gold!

Lunchtime! Mary, our Talent Acquisition whiz, has organised a lunch for a few of the new joiners to celebrate the end of our three-month probationary period. We vote overwhelmingly in favour of a nearby Vietnamese spot called La Kitchen and aren’t disappointed as the food tastes amazing. 

Lunch with the team is great as we share stories and laughs amongst ourselves and I’m reminded of how fun it is to be working alongside this talented group of individuals. Joining the company at the same time as a few others has helped me massively in settling in with the team and getting to grips with our weird but delightful way of working.

This afternoon is all about client work. I block out the entire afternoon for an intense session of client calls. This consists of speaking with new clients that are ready to kick off their R&D claims and reaching out to existing clients to keep things moving smoothly while resolving any blockers.

Although my title is ‘Account Manager’, my role is really that of a Project Manager as I treat each R&D claim as a small project. I manage the entire end-to-end process and handle communications with key stakeholders (namely our financial and technical consultants and the clients). 

It’s 4 pm, and I finish a call with a new client who is working on some incredible tech. My mind is blown by some of the advances they’ve made in their field. This is probably the best part of my role; learning about the crazy, innovative products and services our clients are building, and being able to meet the people building them. As someone with a strong interest in tech and entrepreneurship, it’s extremely rewarding to develop these relationships and increase my learning within the industry.

It’s just gone past 6 pm, which means it’s time for my daily review. I try to finish work with a review of how things went; detailing everything I’ve learned, the challenges I’ve faced and the things I’ve accomplished. The goal behind this is to provide myself with a clear image of what I’ve been working on during the month and identify areas of weakness that need to be addressed. We also have a monthly self-assessment that ties in very closely with our self-set pay process (yes, we set our own pay here), and this helps with filling that in. 

It’s funny, while we’re all independent and encouraged to manage ourselves, there’s still a plethora of support provided covering everything from mental health to personal coaching. The onus is on us to decide whether we tap into that support network, and it’s a great feeling knowing that it’s there whenever we need it.

I round up the day with a game of FIFA against Eugene; another colleague staying late. After winning with a scoreline that I won’t disclose here, I make my way home while catching up on a few client emails on my phone.

(score redacted)

All in all, a very productive Monday which has set the tone for a productive week.

If you are curious about R&D Tax Credits, Innovation Grants and Open Culture

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