Professor Jennie Granger shares her three top tips for success in tax.

Jennie’s expertise as a leader and a leading tax expert was recently recognised in her appointment as the first Professor of Practice specialising in tax and tax administration at the School of Taxation & Business Law UNSW Business School.  Her career includes the likes of the International Monetary Fund, Second Commissioner at the ATO, and five years as a Commissioner and Director-General at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in the UK, where she led the transformation of Customer Compliance. Throughout her career she has championed diversity and inclusion, taking the lead to significantly increasing female representation.

Jennie returned to Australia in 2017 and spoke at this year’s Women in Tax National Congress about her experience, and some of the challenges in ‘going global’.

Here are her three tips for success in tax:

Expand your horizons

Jennie says tax professionals need to expand their thinking about tax on a global scale as opposed to only in terms of their own country.

“We've got a future where that mindset will no longer work,” she explains.

“How people work is changing. You might be running a business as well as working for someone, as well as consulting.

“People are operating across jurisdictions as well. It's quite common already in the UK for small businesses to be managing supply chains across the globe and logistics delivery, because they run websites that people buy from anywhere in the world.

“Start thinking about putting yourself in the shoes of the community,” she adds.

Develop your people skills

As mentioned earlier, Jennie says people are running businesses and working in different ways across the world.

“If you're in administration, you're trying to solve problems that might also have links to terrorism, to organised crime, or social issues as well,” she points out.

Her suggestion to those working with lots of other kinds of expertise is to grow those soft skills such as emotional and cultural intelligence to be able to connect with those experts.

Find out how Go for Growth can help you develop your soft skills.

Education: it can transform organisations

“I'm the daughter of a teacher, so I'm very big on the development of skills and the acquiring of new knowledge” says Jennie.

“We all grew up in a very small country town and it was, at the time, it was a quite poor environment.

“My mother literally taught students in our high school and changed their lives because they were the first kids who went to university, because of her teaching.

“I've seen from very early in my life that education can transform lives and transforms communities, can transform organisations,” she explains.

Jennie advises tax professionals to remain curious and interested in new knowledge. But it’s not just about technical knowledge.

“It's also about learning from other people about things they've tried and done, and about developing networks,” says Jennie.

“When I left Australia, there were some worried conversations about the future of the profession from, to be blunt, from a lot of aging males.

“I kept saying, ‘what about the women?’

“I'm really pleased to see so many women now so visible and so many more in partnership,” she adds.

Jennie says she can remember the first time a woman was appointed to managing partner of a tax practice at a big 4 firm.

“It wasn’t that long ago,” she admits.

“Now, there are lots of women partners out there. It's really fantastic to see that we're tapping a lot more talent.”

The Tax Institute is dedicated to supporting the career progression of women in the tax, accounting and legal professions. As the leading forum for Australia’s tax community, we are committed to representing our 12,000 members and the continuous improvement of the tax system. Find out more about the benefits membership of The Tax Institute can deliver for your role.