What are some ways tax professionals can make the most out of their careers, develop their leadership skills, and achieve balance?

Meet Caroline Giles, Senior Tax Specialist at Boeing.

Accounting wasn’t initially on her career radar back in high school – she actually despised the subject. It wasn’t until her Year 11 results came out, and she had topped the class, that she reconsidered accounting as the best option. She carried on these subjects through to university and completed a Bachelors of Commerce degree with Honours.

“After completing an internship with KPMG Auckland in Tax, this encouraged me to continue having a career in this space,” says Caroline.
“After spending two years with KPMG, I was offered an in-house consultant role with global aerospace company – Boeing, and have been in their corporate international tax team since 2011.

“I have met a number of inspirational tax professionals throughout my career both internal to Boeing and externally, and learnt a lot from each – reinspiring, and reiterating a great career choice!”

The best thing about working in tax

Caroline says one of the main attractions within a corporate tax role is that it is ever-changing.

“Tax is one of those functions within a business that really has been on top of everything that is happening – not only from a financial perspective, but from upcoming bids, movements of employees and assets, and changes happening within the strategy and direction of the business that could have an impact on our tax team’s goals and objectives,” she explains.

“You have to be prepared to be pulled in a number of different directions in the one day, and give sufficient and prompt advice, when the full facts of the transaction or event may not yet be available.

She also says that tax as a career can be easily interchangeable with other future career options, from a financial accounting role, through to strategy and business development.

“From my experience, tax can however be viewed as ‘just an internal function’, and therefore building relationships with business leaders and executives is important to remain relevant and at the forefront of people’s minds,” says Caroline.

“I try to achieve this by arranging regular catch ups with our business partners, whilst being update to date technically on ever changing rules and regulations that may need to be considered.”

Makings of a great leader

Two words. Trust and honesty.

“It’s having a leader who is competent in their profession, but humble enough to support different opinions and thought processes, and open to change,” she says.

“Trust in me, as a member of the team, that I will do the right thing, speak up when a problem is outside of my skill set and trust that my interactions with senior leadership or external agencies will reflect the integrity and technical skill of our team as a whole.”

As for honesty, she says, “I have little time for internal politics, so a leader who can be upfront and honest (even when the message might be a difficult one), is much more valuable in my opinion than someone who conceals information, or is not frank and forthright.”

Work life balance – fact or fiction?

Caroline says work life balance is an interesting concept, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult in some industries or roles.

“For me and my current career stage, it means putting in the hard yards when required, and when resources are stretched,” she admits.

“But at the same time, taking that time later in the month or year to spend with family or friends, or into a hobby or activity you really enjoy doing.

“I am lucky in my current role, in that it offers great flexibility to do the things I enjoy outside of work, even when these may sometimes fall within the started '8-5' workday.”

In her view, work life balance, and flexible working arrangements can be achieved provided there is mutual respect between manager and employee, and that targeted outcomes are achieved.

“I would encourage women in the workplace to speak up and question the ability to have a flexible working arrangement (if so desired), and open the discussion up with management – you never know what is achievable or available!”

Are you trying to squeeze into a “good leader” mould? Find out why women don’t “need to be fixed” to be great leaders.

About Caroline

A keen netball player, she competes competitively and socially in the Brisbane region. She says it’s a great team sport encouraging participation, health and fitness, and teamwork – which can easily relate to the workplace. It is also a great stress relief – which can come in handy after a challenging work day. It also opens up opportunities to volunteer and support younger girls in health and fitness – a great way to give back to the local community. Caroline also really enjoys travelling, ticking off a number of countries and cities in the last 10 years. The most recent of these, travelling to the beautiful region of Alberta, Canada and exploring Banff and Lake Louise. She would love to return to Scotland in 2019, spending time camping and hiking various trails up in the Highlands.