What did you study? When did you graduate?
I studied both a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Bachelor of Accounting at La Trobe University, and I graduated in December 2018.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Melbourne and have lived here my whole life.
An important moment in my life would be graduating, in particular, putting myself out of my comfort zone and completing an Honours degree and writing a thesis. English was never my forte in high school, so a lot of my teachers would be thrilled and/or surprised to read about me writing a thesis!
I have also been fortunate enough to travel a bit. I started my first job when I was 15 for the sole purpose of pocketing some cash to travel to Malaysia to visit a friend. My mum allowing me to fly internationally by myself was a pretty important milestone; highlighting that I could be responsible enough (if I wanted to be) at a young age to do something like that and that working hard can have rewarding incentives.
How did you get to your current job position?
Prior to working at EY, I spent 6 months working at a small accounting firm doing tax compliance. The longer I worked there, the more I knew that tax accounting (and doing tax returns in particular) was not for me.
One day I decided to start looking around and found the tax policy centre to be the ideal fit for my interests, skills to date, and most importantly developmental prospects. My prospects of learning on the job are immense here and something I truly value.
How did you choose your specialisation?
Researching the arm of the business in-and-out. I wanted to understand what a day in the life of the tax policy centre consisted of, what sort of work they do, and what sort of work I could be doing. This helped me envisage not only that I could be a good fit, but vice versa. During my interview, I asked as many questions as I could about tax policy, and this cemented that this was the right specialisation for me.
What was your interview process like?
Conversational. My interviewers and I facilitated a conversation, rather than a question-and-answer style interview. This certainly helped me feel more comfortable, as rather than being put on the spot and asked a question at point-blank, the information I needed to get out and questions I wanted to ask my interviewers came out naturally. By the time the interview had finished, we covered all the mandatory questions in a normal conversation.
I was asked specifically for a “better question”, of which mine was whether they thought, in their opinions, standardised deductions would become a thing in Australia, and how this would impact the future of the tax profession. For a question like this, it certainly helps to be on top of current affairs in the field you’re applying for.
What does your employer do?
EY has 4 key service lines: Assurance, Advisory, Tax and Transaction advisory. Though there is a multitude of other areas that EY provides services for, EY hires people from all sorts of diverse technical backgrounds (law, commerce, science, IT, etc)
What are your areas of responsibility?
Being a new hire, my main area of responsibility is to absorb as much information as I can, and slowly start understanding tax technical areas. Currently, I’m doing a lot of research tasks, summarising of key tax legislation (ATO rulings, cases), and these are slowly enhancing my knowledge areas. I help create (and distribute) internal communications, breaking down key tax developments for the day, week or month, and I update and maintain our internal tax knowledge database.
Can you describe a typical workday?
A typical day is largely based on the above. The last key thing I worked on was breaking down a company’s decision to retire one of its brands. My task was to discover what sorts of retraining programs they offered their employees when they closed their manufacturing components of the business a few years ago, and whether in my opinion any of these components attracted Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT). Now that I have this information, my role is to follow any more developments in the news and, based on what is publicly available, flag anything that may attract FBT moving forwards.
What are the career prospects with your job?
The career prospects are endless. My job gives me a broad breadth of various tax knowledge. A job in tax policy could get me into a similar job in Government, or even The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. I could retrain in the future and work in a vast array of tax law or tax accounting jobs. I’ve got the potential to work overseas at some point, perhaps at the EY Tax Policy Centre in London, Washington or New York, so the possibilities are expansive.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
I would say so. But a good base understanding of how the law and tax systems work would certainly make your life easier. I’ve learnt something new every day on the job since I started, so the on-the-job learning has been invaluable.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
Perhaps I’d be working as a paralegal or legal assistant, building up some experience to try and get a lawyer position? Maybe another aspect of tax advisory? Certainly not tax compliance, I know that now.
What do you love the most about your job?
The day-to-day variety of tasks, the opportunity to apply myself to a wide breadth of tax knowledge areas, and the prospect of working alongside some of the industry’s most knowledgeable people.
I’ve worked on some very fascinating projects including going to the Supreme Court of Victoria to find a Taxation Board of Review decision for a tax partner in Sydney.
I have also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with some of my international colleagues on a regular basis, including my New Zealand colleagues weekly, and Canadian colleagues pretty frequently. I’ve had the opportunity to work on some global engagements too which is exciting.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
I haven’t had to work on weekends yet. My role is largely based around the hours of Parliament and the Courts, so not too much of my work comes after these bodies close for the day. The stress levels are normal for a new role that I am still learning and getting comfortable in, though my comfort levels have substantially improved since my first few weeks.
I would not say I bear too much responsibility, though as I have become more comfortable I have been given the opportunity to volunteer to be responsible for certain projects. This has allowed me to expand my knowledge base and progress my future, whilst still operating at a pace that has not been overbearing whilst I slowly find my feet.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?