Elaine Parr

Elaine Parr: Foundation for growth

How does she find the time to do it all? This is the question people are left pondering after meeting Elaine Parr, Client Service Partner.

Specialising in the consumer products sector and building client relationships, Elaine is Sponsoring Partner of the European LEAD network, which works with big brands like Kellogg's, Heinz and Unilever to advance gender parity across the sector. Her support extends to business mentoring at her old high school and her daughter’s school, and, when she’s not mentoring, you can find Elaine trekking through deserts or running for charity. Between all this, she finds the time to act as sponsor of the EY Stammering Network.

Elaine’s journey

Elaine hasn’t taken the straightest path to get to where she is.

After studying biochemistry at the University of Leicester, she realised it wasn’t the right track for her. “I moved into the world of sales, completed a marketing qualification and realised that I really enjoyed the consumer products sector.” She began her sales and marketing career at Colgate-Palmolive before moving to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where she became an associate partner. Elaine was headhunted to join EY in 2007. “This was when my career began to move away from ‘pure consulting’ and more into client service. I enjoy the challenge of bringing all our services together to help solve a client issue.” she says. She has been at EY for 12 years.

“I’m an enthusiastic social media user – mainly Twitter and LinkedIn. I use it to tap into the latest sector chit chat, connect with clients, share a point-of-view or reach out to the alumni network”.

Fundraising efforts

Elaine pushes herself to do a charity fundraising challenge every year. She ran the London Marathon for Macmillan, walked 65km in one day for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and completed the London City Swim for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, before raising money for the EY Foundation , which helps young adults find their way into work.

She is currently participating in three journeys on three continents in three years.

So far, she has trekked across the Sahara and walked the Great Wall of China. This year she is set to do a five-day hike in Peru to Machu Picchu. The Foundation organises these challenges  and a range of people take part, including current EY employees and alumni. “It’s a great networking opportunity and I’ve learnt a lot about other parts of the business while on the expeditions.”

“You build relationships really quickly on the challenges and get the opportunity to talk about everything, from family to FinTech solutions. For example, on the Sahara trek, I learnt more about EY’s Company Secretarial services which I have since presented to one my clients (contract pending!). Funnily enough, I learned more about EY by being away from the office,” she says.

Making a difference

The Foundation’s work is palpable in its missions – it always funds a student to join the challenge. On the China trip, Elaine was accompanied by an EY Foundation Smart Futures  graduate student. “His parents passed away when he was young, and he spent his time bringing up his family. He was the trek hero, always positive, always stopping to help. When the going gets tough, it’s good to have a reminder why you’re doing it – we’re raising money for people like him,” says Elaine.

For those wishing to take part in a fundraising challenge, Elaine has some sage advice. “Properly physically prepare yourself. You should know what it feels like to fully exert yourself and understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie. If you do this, it’s easier to mentally prepare yourself, which is arguably the toughest part,” she explains. “Being dropped off in the middle of nowhere in the Sahara with a few camels for company takes some getting your head around. You can read all you like about the walk, you can tick off every item on the kit list, but stopping and thinking about the challenge and your response to it, can be overlooked.”

If you’re considering fundraising, Elaine advises to “do it. I guarantee you will get more out of it than you put in.” Her work with the Foundation has also impacted how she views her work life. “Now I have this wide network of people that I know well, in all sorts of parts of the firm and I utilise this day-to-day. Secondly, it genuinely feels great to be able to say I've done something good, to fulfil a personal purpose.”

“Giving is not just about making a donation, it's about making a difference”.

“I read a great quote from Kathy Calvin (CEO of the UN Foundation) recently: “Giving is not just about making a donation, it's about making a difference”.

Elaine is currently preparing, both physically and mentally, for the next EY Foundation challenge for Machu Picchu in Spring 2020. For more information about fundraising opportunities, visit the EY Foundation.

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