Ben J.

Associate Director - Tax
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Ben J.
Philosophy
Philosophy
Undergraduate
James
2014
United Kingdom

My employment

Associate Director - Tax
Deloitte
United Kingdom
Finance and consultancy
Large business (250+ employees)
2015

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A day in the life of a Associate Director - Tax in the United Kingdom

At the time, for those that knew me it was a really odd choice of career (I thought so too!) - I'm really pleased to say it's worked out well so far. I really enjoy my job.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

Deloitte are a large consulting firm - one of the 'Big 4'. Graduate schemes existing across a range of consulting streams - these are mostly (but not entirely) financial.

What do you do?

I advise employers and employees on the taxes involved in moving employees across international borders. A large part of my job is helping employees understand their own taxes as they consider life-changing international moves.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

A desire to use my brain in a genuinely stretching way on a regular basis, to feel useful, and to surprise myself. At the time, for those that knew me it was a really odd choice of career (I thought so too!) - I'm really pleased to say it's worked out well so far. I really enjoy my job.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

Yes - entirely! I thought this sort of job wasn't for 'people like me', or at least that I wouldn't enjoy or flourish in that sort of environment.

Describe your most memorable day at work

There are a few - being told by my boss that I was successful in my bid for my most recent promotion was pretty amazing. It was a highly competitive process and I hung my own application on the basis of improving the workplace experience of those around me, amongst other things. It was really encouraging to see that rewarded.

Another memorable day was being thanked by someone I'd coached for a year - she explained the difference I'd made on a very human level, which had a massive impact on me.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

It's a client-facing job and this can present challenges when clients get demanding. Managing that is an art, not a science - but more importantly, it's a version of a really vital life skill. Usually, the solution lies in helping them feel listened to.

What’s your work environment and culture like?

At the time of writing (Sept 2021) - the environment part of that is somewhat up in the air. The focus is on flex and doing what works best for all involved. So, I spend a lot of time working from home because that suits me nicely - but I still want the collective experience of working together in an office. The office is becoming a space for meeting, talking and creating - I'm fast forming the view that (in theory) I should be going to the office if I can justifiably leave my laptop at home that day.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

Sports - lots of them, but I also wrote (badly) for The Yorker. The writing taught me that being a perfectionist isn't something to aim for - it only creates a maddening circle and backing yourself is a skill to be learned (aim for perfect, and you'll hit very good - which is a very sensible place to stop most of the time!).

Sports was something I'd been doing a lot both before and after uni. Sacrificing your own self-interest for the good of the team is an important trait, as is finding ways to disagree with your team-mates whilst simultaneously not escalating a situation and staying true to a shared goal. (Sounds cheesy, but really is the case in practice)

What would you like to do next with your career?

Keep going! I'd like to lead a team within Deloitte one day and help make that as pleasant a place as possible to work.

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

Looking for a job that's 'right for you' is something of a con. You are the thing that makes the job 'right' - it's okay to try stuff and it not work out, but it's less okay to not try stuff out of fear of failure. Most people surprise themselves with their resourcefulness, and very few jobs look 'right' on paper. Give something a go, and put your weight into making it work for you - to an extent, the 'subject matter' of the role can be mostly moot for that to be successful. But, if it doesn't work, switch it up.

A cold hard fact about the graduate jobs market is that the numbers involved (applicants to successful hires) on some grad schemes are really dispiriting. It's always worth applying, but don't take it personally if it doesn't work out - big employers know their recruitment processes aren't perfect and that good people will slip by. In time, those people bubble up to the top anyway.

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

Anything and everything - including things that might feel too direct to ask (just ask). If I don't know the answer, I will happily say so!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

A Philosophy degree is a really valuable thing. It is no less valuable than any other degree for applying for a financial services job, and potentially more so if you can talk about it well in a job interview.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Ben’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Ben a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Ben to be your mentor.

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