Joe – you studied at DCU. Tell us some more.
Yes, I did a degree in Accounting and Finance (AF) and then went on to do a Masters in Accounting, both in DCU.
I probably started to seriously look at a tax career during my second year at DCU – we had an income tax module during the year and I found that quite interesting! Some of the accounting modules that I enjoyed were computational while the law modules were theory based – tax seemed to have a bit of both which I suppose made it a nice balance.
How did you go about looking for a job in tax?
I basically applied through the "milk round" process. I remember you had to complete a form and tick a box for the area that most interested you. I obviously ticked the box for tax in all cases!
I was lucky enough to have interviews with a number of firms. All of the interviews were structured quite differently so I did a lot of preparation in advance for each one. The final outcome was that I was accepted a trainee contract with one of the big four firms in Dublin.
You work in Finance & Leasing – sounds interesting!
Well, I am currently a Partner in Financial Services Tax at PwC.
To be honest, most days are quite different which really keeps the job interesting. Most of my clients are involved in aviation finance (i.e. they lease aircraft to some of the world’s largest airlines) so most of my day is spent dealing with the various different tax issues that arise in that area.
Given the nature of aviation, my work tends to involve working with various people around the world. I am regularly on conference calls with other PwC offices in places such as London, the Netherlands, Australia and the United States. The global nature of the aviation business also means I tend to travel quite a bit as there are large aviation finance conferences held around the world at various times during the year. Next month, I travel to San Diego for a two day conference so hopefully will get a chance to enjoy a bit of sunshine while I’m there.
I think the fact that each day is generally quite different is what appeals to me most. I have a fairly large client base so they all tend to ask slightly different questions when looking at things. I also like the global nature of my particular job – speaking to and working with people all around the world!
How has the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification helped your career?
Back in 2016, I was lucky enough to have joined PwC as a Director. The Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification was certainly an important factor in PwC’s consideration of me for the role – there is a very good reason for that – the qualification is held in such high esteem that if you have succeeded in qualifying, you are ready to take the next step in your career.
You worked in Sydney for a while – tell us more!
Yes, I was lucky enough to spend three years working in tax in Sydney.
From a work perspective, the biggest challenge was learning the Australian tax system. However, given the strong foundation I had in tax overall, it probably helped me adjust quicker to the Australian system. If I hadn’t the knowledge learned through my Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification, it certainly would have taken longer to get up to speed with the Australian system.
Outside of work, the challenges were all the little things you need to face when moving abroad - finding a place to live, making new friends, and adjusting to a different culture.
But overall, working in Australia obviously had some real advantages – the weather, beaches, sport to name but a few!
As a busy Partner, how do you balance your career and personal life?
I am very conscious of trying to keep a good work life balance. I think every person is different though in how they manage this. For me personally, I like to leave the office most days around 6.30 or so, spend some time with my family for a few hours and then check my emails later in the evening to make sure nothing urgent needs attending to. I am not one of these people who stay in the office every night until 9 or 10pm – if I did I’d be asleep at my desk!