We caught up with Rebecca Lawrence, Senior Associate at Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills, at last October’s Women in Tax lunch held in Sydney.

We asked her what great leadership means to her.

“I've been very lucky. I've worked for a few people who were really good leaders,” she says.

“And from very early in my career, I had a very influential woman that I worked for. She was the first female partner in the area of tax that I worked in.

“And at that time, I was working in London, and their partner meetings used to be in a gentleman's club.

“And she used to have to go in through the back door.

“So she used to share those stories, but more than that, she was just very inspirational, and made me realise what I could do,” she adds.

Rebecca says having her as a role model was significant.

“She was someone who didn't try to emulate being a man,” she continues.

“She was someone who was embraced being a woman and being a leader at the same time.

“That was really important to see, particularly early in my career.”

Why Women in Tax events are crucial

“It's always great to see women up on the stage and talking about their experiences, and then sharing those experiences.

“The best thing about Women in Tax events are the opportunity to meet up with clients, and other people in the profession who are mostly female.

“There are some male attendees, obviously. But just to get together and have that focus on what it's like to be a woman in tax, because there are very few opportunities to do that.

Will robots take over tax?

Rebecca says there is a lot of talk about what the future of tax is going to be.

“People are worried that robots might be doing our jobs,” says Rebecca.

“I still think that an important part of our role is going to be relationships.

“And what we do doesn't happen in a vacuum. I know robots are going to improve, but I don't know that in my lifetime they're going to be good at relationships.

“Tax advisers need to maintain and develop really strong relationships with their clients,” she adds.

Rebecca says that because tax is always changing, the profession is well places to embrace automation or changes in compliance. She advises practitioners to be open to new ways of doing things to avoid getting left behind.

“Practitioners should really immerse themselves in technical capability, but also to embrace technology, so that they can combine the two in a meaningful way,” she adds.

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.

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