Student Spotlight: Tips for planning and why discipline is important



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Dux of the Corporate Tax subject for Study Period 3, 2022 Tanim Islam from AUB Group Limited shares his key learnings from the subject and what he attributes his success to.

Could you tell us about your role and what lead you there?

I started my career within audit predominately at EY. I audited the asset management arm of a big 4 bank, a number of insurers and insurance broking businesses. I had a variety of opportunities including seconding to New York.

I moved from EY around three and a half years ago to one of my clients, AUB, where I was tasked to transform the finance capability at the Group and de-risk from key personnel. When I began, we were an ASX 300 company, we’re currently well into the ASX 200, and we expect to enter the ASX100 in the next couple of years. Being at a growing company has afforded me many interesting opportunities.

My responsibility in AUB covers all technical functions including tax and finance governance and reporting into the Board on key matters. AUB is very active in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) space, so I’m involved in providing and reviewing tax advice on due diligence, structuring, etc.

Why did you undertake Corporate Tax?

Given my background (coming from Audit), my tax knowledge wasn’t as strong relative to my technical accounting or modelling skills. I enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law (including an intention to obtain my CTA) to complement my on-the-job learning and accelerate becoming a trusted adviser in relation to tax matters.

The Tax Institute provided the flexibility to enable me to complete the program whilst working full time. Equally the subjects were tailored to cover areas directly relevant to my work and at an appropriate level to have a strong understanding of the issues at play.

What did you learn in the subject that has been most valuable?

The subject is directly relevant to my work, with AUB engaged in M&A activity on a monthly basis. Tax is an important part of any M&A transaction or corporate governance, and having been through the course, it’s solidified my understanding and confidence in the area. This in turn with other skillsets continue to improve my standing within my organisation and as a professional within the finance sector.

The key topics are about corporate tax management, restructuring, international tax, liquidations and finally corporate tax incentives. For larger groups, these tax concepts are regularly part of the discourse. The international tax and tax incentive modules were particularly enlightening. Given the nature of the Group I work for, many concepts were already familiar, however, the study helped to solidify my understanding.

What is the secret to your success?

I was actually due to complete the subject last year but had to pull out as there was a major acquisition which resulted in me being in the UK for 2 months. Since then, I’ve continued to travel back and forth from the UK and worked long hours, with tax study taking up many of my hours over the weekend. I’ve tried to squeeze in hours whilst on the plane or listening to tax webinars whilst in the car, etc. I also have a supportive wife, who can’t wait for me to be done with my studies again.

My key advice would be:

(1) Clearly plan out how you want to tackle the course including being realistic on personal and work demands. I plan out my year using my work calendar, setting tasks (indicated as available in case people need meetings) to remind myself of what I need to do and by when. This helps me continue to stay on top of things and produce outcomes in an orderly fashion. You don’t want to rush to everything, you’ll become more stressed and be able to ingest less (and leave your friends/family annoyed). I also find knowing I’m on top of things helps me enjoy the moment when I’m away from study rather than thinking about upcoming exams or how much I have to do.

(2) Be disciplined. If you’ve made a plan, you need to stick to it as much as possible, otherwise things will compound, and you will get further and further behind.

What’s next for you in terms of education?

I’ve just completed Advanced Trusts, and plan to do CTA3 Advisory later this year. CTA3 will be my final subject for the Diploma of Applied Tax course and the last hurdle to achieve the CTA. This will also end my plans for formal education in the near future, but I’m a strong believe in life long learning so I’m sure I’ll be doing another course sooner or later.

Any tips for other tax professionals undertaking study?

Studying (again) can be a major decision so just take your time to consider all the costs, benefits, and impacts on yourself (and others in your life) as a result of this decision. Setting realistic expectations with everyone, particularly your family is key to keeping people happy. Personally also consider the why. Having a clear goal and understanding of why you’re doing this course maintains motivation and helps when you’re tired, to continue to remain disciplined.

Corporate Tax is designed to provide a detailed knowledge and understanding of the tax rules and practical problems involved in the taxation of consolidated corporate groups. It is an elective subject in both the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law and Graduate Certificate in Applied Tax Advisory 

Ready to continue your education in tax? Find out more here.