Could you tell us a bit about you and your role at Deloitte?
I haven’t taken a ‘traditional’ route into accountancy so I have a varied background with multiple experiences and skills that I can draw on. I first studied at age 16 when I chose Accounting as an A level. It was then that I realised it was something that I was fairly good at!
After A levels I got a job in the purchasing department of a high-end cosmetics company which really opened my eyes to the world of work and business. I soon decided that I wanted to continue studying, so I started self-studying and funding the AAT qualification.
After completing level 3 of the qualification, I wanted to gain some hands-on accountancy experience. I moved to Bristol and worked in the accounts department of a family-run business that kindly supported me through the rest of my AAT studies. Once I had completed the AAT I had to really think about what I wanted to do next with my career as I knew I wanted to continue studying.
I secured a place on the graduate programme at RSM (previously Baker Tilly) working within the corporate tax team. The position also offered a 3-year ACA training contract. I worked my way through my exams with first time passes at every step of the way, it wasn’t easy but I was determined to succeed!
I joined Deloitte in April 2016 as an Assistant Manager in the corporate tax advisory team. I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to work with a range of different companies and to really improve my tax technical skills and knowledge. Deloitte also offer a vast range of personal and professional development opportunities which I’m keen to get involved with, especially as they help to develop new skills and to expand my network within the firm.
Deloitte also has an extremely strong global network with member firms in over 150 countries, which I’m hoping will enable me to work with colleagues and clients from around the world. I’m also hoping that I might even have the opportunity to work overseas at some point in the future.
I sat my final ACA exam in July 2016 so am just a few weeks away from (hopefully!) being fully qualified with what I’m hoping is a very exciting future ahead of me.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m usually in the office by 8.30am and as Deloitte has a hot-desk policy, I am able to choose the desk that I want to work at which can differ on a daily basis.
A typical day could involve working on multiple projects, but more often than not I’m involved in one or two projects that may last a few weeks or longer. I haven’t specialised in an advisory area yet so at the moment I’m able to assist with a range of corporate tax projects from due diligence to transfer pricing and beyond.
My working day is usually quite varied and can involve technical research, writing reports, conference calls with both clients and internal specialists, shadowing senior colleagues or preparing presentations. Plus, being an Assistant Manager quite often means I am responsible for managing projects involving teams from other business areas such as corporate financial advisory.
I always ensure that I take my lunch hour as this is a great opportunity to take a break and interact with colleagues away from our desks. I usually finish for the day around 6pm.
What is the best productivity tip you have ever received?
Probably learning when to say ‘no’ and understanding when you need to delegate work to someone else as these are key to being both productive and efficient. This isn’t always easy, especially when someone more senior to you is asking you to do work for them. However, there are always likely to be other members of the team who can help you and it’s often a development opportunity for the both of you.
Why did becoming the 2016 BADCASS presidency appeal to you?
Being involved in BADCASS for the last two years has allowed me to meet people from other firms as well as become more involved with the ICAEW and the Bristol area. I thought I could really make a difference to the student community so I decided to put myself forward to be the 2016/17 President.
I wanted to ensure that ACA students in the Bristol area have the ability to share their opinions and the opportunity to meet other students in their local network. By being a leading figure in the student community I am able to attend and promote local events to the local student members, which enables us to develop both our networks and personal skills.
Being BADCASS President also allows me to be involved with the ICAEW Student Council (ISC) which acts as a link between the student community and the Institute. This enables me to be a direct liaison with the Institute to feedback the thoughts and ideas of the Bristol student community so that we can ensure that our voices are always heard at Chartered Accountants’ Hall and beyond.
What do you hope to achieve over the next 12 months leading the Bristol & District student society?
I would like us to make more of a contribution to the local Bristol community which we’re hoping to do with a school and university mentoring scheme in conjunction with the ICAEW West of England Committee.
I would also like to offer more career, soft skills and wellbeing events to our members to assist them as they embark in their accountancy career and studies.
I would recommend getting involved with BADCASS especially if students are new to Bristol as you can meet new people as well as give back to the student community and to the Bristol area as a whole.
How and why did you decide to specialise in Corporate Tax Advisory?
My time working at RSM allowed me to be involved in all aspects of corporate tax for a range of different businesses. I was really interested in the advisory projects as these were what really made an impact and added value to our clients’ businesses.
Advisory work often means that we’re assisting our clients with some of the more difficult aspects or decisions involving their business and this is something that it is really rewarding as an advisor especially when you can see your work making a real impact.
What are the biggest misconceptions about life in a Big 4 firm?
The biggest misconception about life at a Big 4 firm is that you’re unable to achieve a good work/life balance. This is simply not the case.
Employee wellbeing is taken extremely seriously at Deloitte, along with work/life balance, and there are so many different wellbeing schemes and opportunities available to everyone. In addition, I find the office atmosphere laid back and welcoming and there’s a strong respect and inclusion policy in place as people’s backgrounds don’t matter. As part of this, I’ve recently signed up to be an ally for GLOBE which is Deloitte’s LGBT network. An ally is a non-LGBT person who wants to make an open and lasting declaration of their support for LGBT people as part of Deloitte’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The Bristol office I work in is also very sociable both as a whole and in each individual department. There is an internal network for pretty much everything and I’ve recently joined the softball team (I’m not sure they quite know what they’re letting themselves in for…!).
What advice would you give to aspiring Accountants that haven’t come from a traditional university background?
There are more and more different routes into accountancy, particularly with the new government initiatives regarding apprenticeships, so even if you haven’t been to university there are still so many different opportunities available to you.
All of the big firms offer non-university routes into accountancy which tend to take the same length of time (or less!) as if you did a degree and then a standard 3-year ACA training contract.
The key advice I would give is not to underestimate the amount of work that will be involved and ensure that you’re prepared for that. Keeping up-to-date with current affairs is extremely important as this can be transferred to both your work and your studies, and maintaining a good network around you is always beneficial as you can often gain assistance and insights from your peers and those in other professions.
What are Deloitte doing to attract school leavers and what do you think could be done better?
Deloitte offers a BrightStart programme which combines on-the-job learning with study towards a professional qualification. The end qualification depends on the business area students join – either Audit & Risk Advisory, Consulting, Financial Advisory or Tax Consulting. The programme lasts for 4 years and is an alternative to university. There are also internal courses, training and mentoring schemes available that develop personal and professional skills.
Our Cardiff office offers a business administration apprenticeship which also combines work and study, and at the end of the scheme apprentices gain their Level 3 City & Guilds Business Administration qualification. As well as classroom study and e-learning, apprentices have 1:1 coaching, a designated Deloitte mentor to support them at work and the technical and skills training they need to move their career on further down the line. Not to mention the invaluable experience of working on live projects from very early on
Deloitte is committed to offering opportunities to people from a variety of backgrounds and enabling them to structure their career in a way that is most beneficial to them.
Once you qualify, what advice and options are you given to remain in the profession?
Each firm will have their own approach to development opportunities and ensuring that every individual is able to get the most from their career. In addition, the ICAEW offers plenty of help and support to newly qualified accountants. At BADCASS we’re also looking to put in place a mentoring scheme with prominent figures in industry and practice as well as several round table events looking at career development.
Over the next 18 months what will life at Deloitte look like for you?
I should hopefully be ACA qualified by September 2016 and I’m also starting to establish myself within the team here at Deloitte. I should be able to build up my own client portfolio in the next few months which will enable me to focus on my management skills as these will be key in the next 18 months as I look to progress within the firm.
I hope to start my CTA studies in 2017 as well as working towards making the step up to Manager in the next 18 months.
Once I have finished my term as BADCASS President, I hope to move on to the ICAEW West of England Committee and continue to contribute to activities for chartered accountants in the Bristol area.
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