Honey is a graduate of the University of Leeds, who have kindly granted permission to reproduce her profile here.
What does a Senior Tax Manager do?
A common misconception about tax and accounting is that you add numbers up all day. My job requires many different skills: handling client relationships (building rapport, meeting their needs); assignment management (including planning, meeting deadlines and billing);people management; self development; business development (winning work, building the business) and technical knowledge. As you can see, the most important part of the work is about dealing with people – people who work for me, people I work for, people in other departments, specialists in other offices and my clients.
Did you always know you wanted to be a Tax Manager? How did you become interested in this area?
I am one of many people who fell into accounting as I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Having said that, I do remember reading a brochure for Price Waterhouse (as it was called then) and thinking that I could never work for such a prestigious professional company. It seemed so high powered and everyone in the brochure looked extremely intelligent. And now I am fairly senior in the organisation!
In that way I am proud of what I do. I applied first of all to actuaries in Leeds, but didn’t get offered any of the positions I wanted. By that time the milk round for the larger accounting firms had passed and so I applied to a small firm based in Leeds, Harrogate&Ripon to do accounting. It was the only accounting interview I went to and I got it! On qualifying as a chartered accountant I joined Coopers & Lybrand to do personal and trust tax. After two years I left to join Price Waterhouse to do corporate tax, where I took my tax exams. A few weeks after I joined PW, it was announced that the firm would merge with Coopers to become PricewaterhouseCoopers. That was eight years ago. I now specialise in Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) as well as having a portfolio of large groups.
What is Mergers and Acquisitions?
I love working in M&A – it is advising on the tax implications of transactions such as acquisitions, disposals, mergers and reorganisations. There are usually tight deadlines and our input affects key decisions in transactions. I have worked on a lot of high profile transactions. It gives me a sense of achievement when I see the transaction announced in the papers.
What do you like most about your work?
The excellent quality of work – I am almost able to pick and choose the type of work and clients I work on.
The clients – I have some excellent clients. It is very rewarding to build up a good working relationship with a client, especially when you get nice comments on the client feedback forms.
My colleagues – It is great to work with like minded people with similar goals and intellect. We all have different skills and support each other when needed. It can get competitive which can be a good and a bad thing.
Did having a mathematics degree help you get this job?
While being good at maths is by no means the most important ability, good basic skills are needed.
Having done a maths degree signifies to an employer that you have an analytical and intelligent brain. It also signifies to them that it is likely that you will be able to cope with the difficult accounting exams.
People I work with have a variety of degrees so I don’t think it greatly affected my decision to go into accounting. I think the reason so many people end up in accounting is because they are not sure what they want to do at the milk round stage – it is easy to apply to and there are lots of places available each year. And, of course, it pays well once you qualify!
What elements of your degree, if any, are relevant to your work?
To be honest, I don’t really think my degree has much relevance to my work other than helping me get the job in the first place. I did mathematics because I really enjoyed it and was good at it – that is what I recommend anyone to do.
I also did management as a subsidiary subject in my degree – some aspects of the course such as the psychology element are useful today. Some of the simple statistical formulae I learnt are also useful occasionally. Generally, I think the main benefit of my mathematics degree is the depth of thought I had to go into, to solve problems. Now I find that if I do have a problem, I will try any way I can to solve it.
Do you think a degree in mathematics is of value to employers?
Yes – I think it shows employers they are dealing with an intelligent, analytical person. People are usually impressed when they hear that I did a maths degree – people seem to think you must be intelligent if you studied it.