My field in the tax industry is technical and specialized. Early in my career, I focused on developing technical expertise, exposing myself to different areas and different people, and learning new things. That’s what I suggest to people early in their careers. Be open and give yourself opportunities to accelerate your technical knowledge. Then, when you have a good technical foundation, explore areas that you love.
Early in my career, I was exposed to a lot of different taxation issues. After I was exposed to international taxation, I never looked back. Building the technical foundation first was important, though. It enabled me to interact with my global tax peers, to understand and appreciate the different approaches they brought to taxation.
I also tell young people once you find the area you love, enjoy it. Enjoy it for the fantastic new things that happen in your daily work and make the most of it.
I’ve moved around quite a bit. Along the way, I’ve built a network of former bosses and peers that have supported me in so many ways. They’ve helped me find new opportunities and good people to hire.
I was given some advice that I now give to young staff members, especially in tax where problems are complex, much is at stake and discussions can get emotional. Let’s find a way to turn the volume down and resolve the issue by drawing on the consensus and relationships we’ve built. With the volume turned down, people think more clearly. They can slow down, work the problem and negotiate more successfully.
I’ve had two influential mentors, one inside and one outside of work. I’ve learned many similar things from both, so maybe that means being at work is as much about being human as being outside of work. My mentors brought out the best in me. So now I try to bring out the best in my staff and teach them to bring out the best in their people.
My outside mentor once said, “You work so hard to overcome weaknesses. Yet you have all these strengths. Why not enjoy them?” That’s when I discovered how much easier work is when you go with your strengths. So get out there, do what you’re good at and enjoy it.