Julie Abdalla, Associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, says that in the face of constant change in the profession, continual education is vital and provides the skills to tackle challenges head-on.

"Tax is a complex area and is constantly evolving. It is a hot topic and is very high on the agenda for politicians, the media, business and industry, NGOs and for individuals", Julie says.

There is also the rise of technology and the way it changes how we operate as professionals, to think about. 

"Tax advisors of course still have a very important role to play, even with advances in technology," she adds.

Julie says we need to see the challenges as opportunities to do things differently; it's about challenging the status quo. This means adapting processes to leverage new tools that are available to offer more streamlined and efficient services to our clients.

Education is one way to stay ahead of the game, so to speak.

"I personally believe continual education is so important," Julie says.

"There are many elements to the way you learn and to the way you become a well-rounded tax advisor.

"For me, a huge part of that is the learning and experience that you acquire on the job, through working on a broad range of matters with different colleagues and diverse clients.  

"I think this is complemented by technical training and formal learning and development," Julie explains.

Earlier in her career, Julie completed CTA1 Foundations and CTA2A and CTA2B Advanced. Having almost finished her Master of Laws, specialising in tax, Julie plans to complete her CTA3 Advisory and become a Chartered Tax Advisor.

"I think these courses are really beneficial because you learn in a different way in that kind of environment.

"You interact with people from diverse backgrounds and learn from their experiences which are not necessarily the same as what you encounter on a daily basis.

"This broadens your perspective and equips you with the tools to overcome challenges in your own work in innovative ways," Julie adds.

Leadership: don’t be afraid to fail

Julie believes great leaders are committed to investing in their teams and genuinely want to see them do well. They are inclusive and know how to play to the strengths of the individuals in their teams.They invest their time in developing their juniors and provide the resources needed for their people to succeed.

Good leaders cultivate a culture where new ideas are encouraged and it is safe to fail. When starting out, it can be daunting to take risks.

"The advice that I would have given myself is to back myself more," she says.

"I think you need to be confident in yourself and your abilities. Trust your instincts and use your intuition. 

"If you are confident in yourself, it makes it easier for other people to have confidence in you.

"Most importantly, try new things, don't be afraid to fail and learn from the experience.

"Sometimes it is hard to initiate change, but coming back to my earlier point, you need to back yourself," she adds.

An active member

Julie says, "I would say I have been a very active member of the Tax Institute since I started my career in tax."

"I was a Co-chair of the Young Tax Professionals Committee for several years and have been involved in the Organising Committee for the Women in Tax National Congress since its inception. 

"In these roles, I have brought my own ideas to the Committees and have been responsive to feedback about what delegates wanted to see and how things could be done differently to improve the offerings.

"I think The Tax Institute is a really valuable resource for tax practitioners.  

"There are many events throughout the year that are tailored to suit the needs of the different groups that make up our profession (including junior and senior practitioners, specialists, and of course, women) and are worthwhile to attend.  

"These events are a good way to meet interesting people and expand your professional networks," she adds.

Julie says Women in Tax events are a great opportunity to meet like-minded women.

"For me, it is such a positive experience to be surrounded by so many talented, driven women who support each other to succeed," she says.

"We each share our experiences and learn from each other, and we build each other up," she continues.

"The Women in Tax network is a supportive, collegiate and safe environment for people to share their experiences and learn from others."

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