A conversation with Lorien Van den Bempt


A few months ago, Lorien was promoted to VAT partner. A story that fits very well in this series about women in business. 12 years ago, Lorien started in our team as a senior VAT advisor. In the meantime, she continued to grow, helped build up the VAT team and, as a partner, together with the team, she now focuses on navigating our clients with current and new VAT obligations, with a special focus on technology and automation. Her recent promotion to partner is a great opportunity to look back on her journey.



Your career started at Grant Thornton 12 years ago, after a first experience elsewhere. How has Grant Thornton helped you on your career path?

Lorien: "Grant Thornton helped me in various ways. A big gamechanger for me was the Grant Thornton Innovation & Growth Academy in which I had the opportunity to participate a few years ago. This Academy was built around 2 main anchor points: leadership and innovation. That programme really made me think about where I wanted to go professionally, about my long-term goals and how I could achieve them. I am still grateful for that opportunity.

Additionally, the open culture in our teams is also very important. After all, a career is not a set course. Together with your manager, you map out your path, tailored to your own situation, at your own pace, which is very personal. Everything happens through mutual consultation, with room for your own input. That culture of open communication at our company has also proved very valuable in my personal career path."

In 2017, you became a mother for the second time. How does Grant Thornton support in a women's career?

Lorien: "The same principle applied here too. I was always given the space and flexibility to plan my working days according to the new situation with 2 children. When the trust is there, that flexibility and understanding come naturally. And that was long before Covid. You could say, hybrid working avant la lettre."

Not everything was all sunshine and rainbows, I suppose. What did you run into as a leader?

Lorien: "It's not just about technical knowledge. As a leader, you also have to manage a team, invest in your people, grow as a team. The biggest hurdle here was and is the war for talent. We have room to grow, but don't always find the right people. We try to solve this pragmatically. In our search, we broaden our scope and also give people with a background other than VAT a chance and train them on the job. Their drive and ambition are then as important as their professional background."

#InspireInclusion is this year's International Women's Day theme. What does it mean to you?

Lorien: "Our own VAT team is the best proof that diversity matters. The many differences within our own team lead to great richness. And we should continue to embrace that!

On a final note, what advice would you give to the new generation of female leaders?

Lorien: "First of all: always engage in dialogue, with due respect, and listen carefully to each other. And finally: don't think of what’s holding you back, but believe in your own power, in your own strengths. Keep developing them, and dare to walk your own path. Just go for it! But that's actually my advice for everyone. Both men and women can often use a boost of self-confidence."

Inspired? Get in touch

Want to know what it's like working at Grant Thornton? 

Reach out to Lorien