Sacha Romanovitch has been elected as chief executive of Grant Thornton UK and will succeed current chief executive Scott Barnes in June 2015. The appointment makes Romanovitch the only female chief executive among the top ten UK accounting firms.

Barnes, who will complete his second consecutive term as UK chief executive, has also been elected unanimously to take on the role of chairman of Grant Thornton International board once his tenure as UK chief executive comes to an end.

Romanovitch and Barnes will work on a transition programme during the first half of 2015 for both of their new roles, Grant Thornton UK announced.

Romanovitch specialises in advisory with a focus on professional service firms and people related businesses and has been a member of the UK leadership team since 2008 where she was responsible for people and culture. As such her responsibilities were to lead the firm’s activities to attract, recruit, motivate and retain talent.

Prior to that, Romanovitch led the firm’s London audit and tax practice from 2002 to 2007. She joined Grant Thornton UK in 1994 and was appointed partner in 2001.

Romanovitch is an advocate for increased social mobility within both the profession and wider business, she is chair of the Patron Group for Access Accountancy, the profession-wide initiative to increase diversity.

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“Embedding a strong brand and an empowered culture is critical to our on-going success,” she said commenting on her appointement. “I firmly believe our firm, our clients and the wider success of the UK economy will depend on our ability to unleash talent and ideas from every section of society.”

She concluded: “From my experience one needs to do that intentionally – and when you do it makes a big difference.”

Commenting on the appointment Barnes said: “We set out a clearly defined strategy for growth, Ambition 2015, three years ago and she is the right person to take this forward. She led the work we undertook with stakeholders to imagine how the future environment in which we will operate will look, which has informed the shape of our strategy into the future.”