Joanna Santinon, ex-partner at Ernst & Young

In our regular series, people with important jobs remember where it all started


Hi, Joanna! Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Joanna Santinon and I’m recently retired after spending nearly 36 years working for four big charter accountancy firms. For the past 25 years, I was a partner at EY, most recently running the UK arm of the Young Entrepreneurs Of The Year program.

What was your #MyFirstMcJob?

A temporary nanny, while in Sixth Form.

How did you get it?

I had to get a bus to and from school with kids from the junior school. A mum with a nine- and a seven-year-old, who lived two towns away between Liverpool and St Helens, approached me and said: “I desperately need a nanny, but only for a week in the holidays. My children say they really like you, would you do it?” My only childcare experience had been looking after two little girls for the day for my Girl Guide childcare badge. I guess she trusted that I would be okay if her kids liked me.

What did you have to do?

Get to their house, look after and feed them, take them to the playground, make sure they were clean … all the children jobs to keep them entertained and happy.

Did anything funny happen?

I took the four-year-old to wash her hands and she just stopped at the sink and shut her eyes. I realised: “Oh, she’s expecting me to wash her face and hands!”

What did you spend your first pay cheque on?

Clothes. I am 5”11½’ and haven’t grown since I was 11 and a half. It was a massive burning contention throughout my teenage years that I got very few new clothes because everything still fitted. So it was always clothes for me.

Are you still in contact with the kids you looked after?

No, because I only did it for a week. They’d be in their 40s now!

Why is alumni so important in business?

If you maintain contact with your alumni, you have a twofold unique opportunity. You have a pool of people who should be friendly so long as they haven’t gone to work for a competitor. Firms recruit all the time, so if you bring back an alumni, you bring back someone who already knows the firm and the job. I’ve recruited people back who left because they thought the grass was greener but realised that it wasn’t, but you need to have to have stayed in touch with them and treat them like you want them back.

What would happen if you went back and did another week’s worth of childcare?

My own children are only 10 and 12. I don’t think I would have the patience or the energy to deal with another four and a seven year old!

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you say?

Take every opportunity that gets offered.





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