Guest blog: From Law to Tax Consultancy

Ross Markham0561Ross Markham, 29, is a Consultant in Deloitte’s Global Employer Services. He joined Deloitte in September 2014 having studied Politics and then Law. He advises organisations who have a global footprint on all aspects of their internationally mobile employees.

  • Explain your background to coming to Deloitte

In the final year of my undergraduate degree, I secured a vacation scheme at Latham & Watkins, a leading-US law firm. I really enjoyed this experience, and decided to pursue a career in Law by undertaking the GDL and LPC degrees. During the LPC, I undertook a tax module, and seemed to be the only person who enjoyed it! The College then held an alternatives careers to law fair, at which Deloitte were in attendance and spoke about the transferability of legal skills to a career in Tax. I was really impressed by the similarities between careers in Law and Tax (i.e. prestigious clients, opportunities to travel, working alongside market-leading practitioners) and so applied for the graduate scheme. My law background really held be in good stead throughout the application process, as I was confidently able to talk about tax legislation and case law, which underpin everything that we do in Tax.

  • What skills gained from your Law studies have you found to be most transferable to Tax?

I use my legal skills on an almost daily basis, whether it is analysing employment contracts, drafting policies, interpreting legislation or liaising with HMRC to resolve a dispute. Being a lawyer by training has also given me strong attention to detail, which clients really value.

Furthermore, being able to construct a sound and structured argument, and then being able to verbalise or write that argument, is a really useful tool to convince others and bring them around to your way of thinking.

  • What have you accomplished?

I have been on a six-month secondment to one of the world’s largest insurers, where I worked with their in-house team to stabilise their Global Mobility program. I was also on a pitch team alongside a Partner and Director where we won a leading client for a major project.

  • What is the most exciting part of your role?

I work in a small consulting team, where we work on a variety of projects advising organisations with international employees about the tactical and strategic implications of having a global footprint. This means that I work with clients from a range of industries and with varying problems. Consequently, no two days are the same – I could be advising a Financial Services company on the soundness of their employment contracts one day and running a strategy workshop in the Netherlands for a Consumer Business client the next.

  • What has surprised you most about working at Deloitte?

Not a surprise as such, but it is genuinely been a pleasure to work alongside the most eminent people in their fields in the world. This means I have never stopped learning and genuinely find what I do interesting.

Guest blog: Becoming a Management Consultant

Lydia Hesketh, Inside Careers

Considering a career as a management consultant? Or are you already set on the sector and determined to achieve a graduate job in a top consultancy firm? There are many reasons why consultancy is a popular career choice: the salaries are some of the highest around, the opportunity to travel is vast and the diversity of work stretches across many sectors and industries.

But what exactly do management consultants do? A management consultant provides external advice for organisations that require specialist expertise or an objective outside perspective on their business. Consultancy usually involves the identification and assessment of a problem or the analysis of a specific area of an organisation, the reporting of findings and the formulation of recommendations for improvement. In essence, a consultant’s job is to advise a company on improvements that could be made to its business.

Basic Requirements

Before you start planning your path to a consultancy career it’s vital you understand the basic requirements and traits consultants hold.

In terms of educational requirements, you must have a strong academic background, educated to degree level with a minimum of a 2:1 or equivalent at a top university. The majority of firms now accept a wide range of degree subjects, with some strategy consultants looking particularly favourably on degrees with a numerical focus.

Soft skills are also highly sought after by employers, such as leadership and interpersonal skills as well as an entrepreneurial mind-set and intellectual curiosity.

If you are decided on a consultancy career, read on to find out what you need to do at each step of your journey.

First year

First year is all about exploring the profession; discovering if consultancy suits your skills and passions, as well as what kind of consultancy firms interest you. Some companies offer work experience to first years in the form of insight days or weeks. Look out for these placements opening in December and closing January to February.

If you’re unable to get onto an insight programme, joining a society or gaining part-time work is also a worthwhile experience that employers will look favourably upon.

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Could you be a QConsultant?

Queen Mary’s award winning student consultancy programme is back! QConsult Commercial places QMUL undergraduates into mini consultancy projects in local businesses. Local organisations are able to solve a business challenge while providing students with a real-life opportunity to use their skills and develop their employability.

How does QConsult Commercial work?

  • Businesses provide a team of students with a short project brief outlining the details of a particular business challenge. Past QConsult Projects have involved researching and analysing information, looking into improvements around marketing and business development, product development, and reviewing policies and processes.
  • The student teams work on the project for a specified amount of time, after which they present their findings and recommendations to the business in the form of a presentation and written report.
  • While conducting their projects the students receive advice, training and support around project management and presentation skills from the QMUL Careers & Enterprise team.
  • Student consultants are asked to spend 20 hours in total on their consultancy projects and are paid London Living Wage (£9.40/hr) for their project work. This work can take place in the form of a 1 week intensive QConsult round (usually during summer or reading weeks) and a 5 week round (generally during term time).

What have past QConsultants said?

The QConsult scheme is the best thing I have done at university.” – Andre Denton Stewart

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What is it like doing a QConsult supported by J.P.Morgan project?

Anasta Feldano recently completed her time on her QConsult supported by J.P.Morgan project. Here she tells us all about her experience.

Anasta_Feldano_Portrait

What organisation did you work with and what project did you do?

I worked with an East London film making agency, on a project about raising their profile and diversifying their customer base.

How did you find the programme?

It really gave me the confidence boost I needed. When I got onto QConsult [supported by J.P. Morgan] I was worried about how I would do it. But going through the project, from the Assessment Centre to the group work to the presentations and the skills sessions was just a whole series of confidence boosts. I can’t think of any other way to describe it.  It’s been a great experience all in all and has bridged the gap that I would have otherwise had on my CV.

What do you think you learnt from the programme?

I feel more comfortable with having to do research work, I never had to do it in a non-academic way before and now I have figured out how to do it and I know what research means in a professional environment. And, it has taught me how to do things like public speaking which I always thought I wouldn’t be good at.

Has it made a difference to how you think about your career?

It has definitely increased my confidence, I always thought ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not equal to others’. Now, having done this project and got so much good feedback, I think ‘maybe I can do that too!’ I felt encouraged and now I feel confident and entitled to go for other things which I wouldn’t have before.

This project helped me figure out two things. One is that maybe a heavily research based job with little or no client interaction isn’t for me. And the other is that I really enjoy public speaking and presenting and interacting with people. So this will steer the types of jobs I look for.

Do you think it has made a different to your employability?

Yes, I now have now secured a Graduate Role as a Tax analyst at one of the Big 4 firms.

I had to do a presentation as part of my final interview, having worked with my client and also JP Morgan, and gaining a mixture of both presenting formally and informally helped me. I think it enhanced my confidence, communication skills and [ability to] talk through points in a semi-formal manner.

As part of my manager level interview, I was asked to talk through another project that I was involved with beside my Micro-Tyco competition, and I talked through the Q-consult project which involved utilising team working, communication, presentation and research skills.

Has doing this project changed your understanding of what consultancy is?

I have a greater awareness of what consultancy would be like and I now know that it involves a lot of research rather than client facing.

Has being part of this programme made any difference to your professional networks?

Yes, I was able to practice my networking skills and would feel more confident to network in the future.

Would you recommend the programme to other students?

Definitely, people should apply for it, no matter what field of study they are doing as our team had such a mix of skills in it. I would encourage anyone to do it, it is just such a great work experience. It shows employers that you are well rounded, versatile and able to do more. It not only shows that you are active and enthusiastic about gaining skills but also that you have gained new skills and got better at the skills you have.

 

Deloitte & the unexpected things I learnt

On a balmy August day, I made my way to Deloitte’s offices in the City for a Careers Advisers day; a way in which we careers professionals ensure the information we pass onto you, as students, is current and fresh. It also means we get free sandwiches and get to grill recent intakes of graduates about their experiences; so everyone’s a winner!

The unexpected things I learnt:

  • Graduate recruitment targets at Deloitte have been missed by 34% in 2014, and 32% in 2015.
  • Deloitte locations that receive fewest applications are the London satellite offices e.g. St Albans, Crawley, not that that means the recruitment process is any less stringent!
  • Good news if you’re an international student: Tier 2 visa provision went from 40 in 2014, to over 100 in 2015 for graduates. There is no limitation on visa numbers; they only ask that if students require a visa, applications are made by April, for a September start (or generally a lead time of 5 to 6 months).
  • Fun fact: Deloitte audit the voting process for the BAFTAs.
  • The Technology graduate scheme takes on over 150 graduates a year.
  • Approximately 70–75% of interns and those on insight weeks, are successfully recruited and retained on Deloitte’s graduate schemes.
  • Deloitte provides free food for its employees, in return for donations to charity.
  • Deloitte’s Micro Tyco scheme grants internships to the team who can turn £1 into as large a return as possible. Anyone can enter.
  • Deloitte supports over 40 different professional qualifications aligned to their different graduate schemes. Typically there is a good support around studying and working in the initial training period.
  • … and Deloitte make a mean ploughman’s sandwich!

student working

Ever thought of being a management consultant?

Amongst all the traditionally popular graduate careers, a new kid on the block is emerging.  The latest research statistics from High Fliers (the biggest annual survey of the career aspirations of UK undergraduates) shows that consulting is now the second most popular target career destination amongst final year undergraduates.

Whilst these research findings makes it clear that many students are now cottoning on to the opportunities on offer in this relatively new career area it is equally apparent, through the work that we do, that many other students are still struggling to understand exactly what the career is, what the work involves and whether it may represent a good career choice for them.  Let’s run through the basics and provide some information on where to go for further research.

What do management consultants do?

In a career area where there is definitely no ‘normal’, working as a management consultant can be a tricky idea to get your head around.  The huge range of specialisms covered and the number of professional sectors that are intersected means that it can be hard to describe a typical scenario.  But, put in its plainest terms, a management consultant is someone who provides expert advice to other professionals, usually in other organisations.  They help these organisations to solve their business problems, maximise growth and efficiency, and create value. The benefit to the client organisation is that external consultants bring with them both useful industry expertise and a fresh pair of eyes.  It is important to understand that the umbrella term ‘management consultant’ can actually cover a range of skills and specialisms from project management to business analysis to e-commerce, and will operate across a breadth of service areas including operations, strategy, and HR to name but a few.

What skills do management consultants need?

Working frequently from the client site, management consultants need to be adaptable team players. They will need to be able to work with tact and diplomacy when working with any potentially tricky client/consultant relations, and should be analytical in their approach to work and seek to solve problems rather than merely accept things as they are.  Their communication skills should be advanced as they may need to be able to present and sell their solutions to the client whilst remaining mindful of the parameters of the business they are working within. An astute sense of commercial awareness is also required so that they are aware of factors which may affect their clients business potential, and so that they can help place them favourably amongst their immediate competitors. Those interested in this career should bear in mind that opportunities may take them away from home or even overseas so you would need to show a certain amount of flexibility in your personal life.

How do I get into management consultancy?

The opportunities in consulting are diverse. Firms range from large organisations who offer end-to-end solutions to much smaller niche organisations that offer specialist expertise. Alternatively, some consultants also work on a freelance basis (sometimes known as ‘contracting’). A good starting point is to think carefully about the type of employer that you think will suit you best.  Many of the larger organisations in particular will offer graduate training schemes most commonly too applicants with a 2.1 or above (degree discipline is not usually specified although it would be fair to say that such positions attract a large range of graduates from business or management backgrounds).  The training focuses on developing key business exposure whilst working towards professional qualifications.  The TARGET jobs employers hub provides a list of some of the main graduate employers, although recruitment agencies may also provide opportunities within smaller firms.  The good news is that opportunities have remained fairly stable during the economic crisis and with the economy picking up, vacancy numbers are also rising.

Where can I find out more?

As well as the usual suspects like TARGET Jobs and Prospects, the website www.top-consultant.com provides a really useful career forum for people considering starting a career in this area.

What does an Internal Auditor do and how do I become one?

Whether you want to get inspiration by seeing the hundreds of different job roles available in different industries, or if you want to find out more about a particular role – what they actually do on a daily basis, how to get in to the job, progression and salary prospects, how to find vacancies and more – browse the job profiles in the Prospects website.

The newest edition to the list of profiles is for an Internal Auditor.

What does an Internal Auditor do?

Internal auditors work within businesses and organisations to monitor and evaluate

– how well risks are being managed

– how the the business is being governed

– how internal processes are working

They also provide a consulting service, advising management on how to improve systems and processes.

So how is this different to an External Auditor?

Generally  external auditors look at financial and accounting risks i.e. carry out financial health checks.

Find out more: www.prospects.ac.uk/internal_auditor.htm