Hi there! My name is Ally McCaffrey and I am a Transfer Pricing Senior Manager in PwC, Dublin.
Ally - tell us a bit about what you did at college and getting your career started
I studied Law in UCD - this was a three year programme which came to an end far too fast! Throughout my time in UCD, I never really knew exactly what I wanted to do when I finished my degree but I decided to apply for an internship with PwC starting the summer after I sat my final set of college exams.
During the summer internship interview, the interviewer (who is now the Partner that I work with on a daily basis) asked if I would be interested in taking on a graduate position with PwC. I decided to accept the offer pending the outcome of my internship.
The internship was a huge success. I achieved exactly what I wanted by getting a feel for both life in a global consultancy firm and a career in tax. I decided to start in PwC the following September.
So I began my professional career at 20 years of age, along with 70 other trainees!
After a few days of training, making new friends and considering which department was the right fit for me, I began working in the Human Resource Services (“HRS”) department in PwC as a tax assistant. From day one I was building relationships with clients, speaking with Revenue, preparing tax returns and working with overseas offices in relation to the tax treatment of equity based compensation schemes.
I attended pan-European training courses to develop my tax technical and networking skills. I was exposed to really great work for brand name clients across a vast array of industries such as telecommunications, pharmaceutical, retail and IT companies from the get go.
When I think back to those first few years, the one thing that still stands out is sitting my Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) exams.
Working, studying and trying achieve a balance between all of that and my personal life was tough. However, PwC and the Irish Tax Institute provided us with additional support to help us with the exam preparation process which was hugely helpful. Attending workshops, being prepared for lectures and keeping on top of assignments were critical success factors for me in passing my exams.
In the earlier years, particularly at Part 1, the knowledge gained through the exam process helped me to excel in work while in the later years, particularly as I got closer and closer to my Part 3’s it became clear that the work I had performed “on the job” would benefit me greatly in terms of preparing for the exams.
A lot of my colleagues were sitting the exams with me and naturally, we formed a really strong support network. When we passed, we celebrated together and were genuinely happy for each other’s success. To this day passing my Part 3’s is still one of the highlights of my career – the exams opened doors for me, they allowed me to seek promotions within the firm and even gave me the opportunity to work in the U.S.
An opportunity opened up in the Transfer Pricing (“TP”) team which I decided to go for. TP had gained a lot of media attention in the months prior and I was intrigued by the work of such rapidly growing area of tax that was still very new to the Irish statute books. Moving to TP when I did, at a time when the tax world was undergoing some of the biggest changes of this era, was a really exciting move.
Nonetheless, the move brought with it challenges. Moving departments and specialties was like starting all over again! The learning curve sky rocketed and I had to develop new relationships with a brand new team. However, it reaffirmed my belief that there is never a dull day in tax – no two projects are ever the same and each brings with it new concepts and understandings that I have to grapple with.
After a few months with the team in Dublin, a secondment to Chicago became my next challenge. Personally, I am so happy that a career in tax has allowed me to travel the world and experience things that many people do not get to experience in their lifetime.
In terms of what’s next for me….well who knows, I guess? If you had asked me a few years ago if I’d move departments and live in the US for 18 months, I probably would have laughed and said “no way!” All I know is that I am really excited for the next chapter of my career in tax and that it will continue to be as exciting and challenging as it has been so far.