Monday 2 September 2013

The life of a corporate tax professional: Irene Yeung, PwC

The life of a corporate tax professional: Irene Yeung, PwC
Irene Yeung works as a senior manager in PwC's corporate tax division in Sydney.

The lure of a career in tax first took hold in high school, where Irene was attracted to the significant role that tax plays in society. She saw the potential for a dynamic career and secured a traineeship with PwC, which involved studying a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of New South Wales, majoring in Accounting and Business Taxation, while simultaneously gaining valuable work experience. After graduating from university, Irene secured a graduate position in the corporate tax team at PwC. She is now studying for her Masters of Taxation.

What appealed to you about a career in taxation?

When I was in high school, recent school-leavers came in to talk to us about what they had done after year 12. The person who caught my attention applied for a traineeship at an accounting firm. I didn't know much about accounting at the time as I was studying science and humanities subjects. I was interested in tax because it has such a fundamental part to play in society. PwC had a good reputation in the market – so it seemed like a logical fit. I've now been in tax at PwC for over 13 years.

What does your current role involve?

Tax law is incredibly dynamic. When a new law is announced, legislated or precedent established through case law, part of my role includes analysing these changes and the impact of these updates on my clients and society as a whole. As a senior manager in PwC’s corporate tax team, I help clients manage their tax risk. I work as part of a close-knit team that delivers a diverse range of services including:

  • Providing advice on transactions.
  • Highlighting tax issues that may impact a client’s business.
  • Providing advice on risks and solutions to meet a client’s business objectives.
  • Reviewing tax returns to ensure the correct tax position is disclosed and advice taken is implemented.
  • Helping clients comply with tax laws and meet their compliance obligations.

While the focus is on helping clients solve their problems, the firm also emphasises the importance of making a greater contribution to society through engaging in thought-provoking key policy debates, such as the need for comprehensive tax reform. This has created the chance for me to get involved and play a part in driving critical change within our economy and our broader society. The environment I work in is intellectually stimulating and the work I do each day can be quite different.

How did you reach your current role?

I started at PwC on their trainee program, which involved working full-time and studying part-time for two years of my degree. After university, I returned to the firm as a graduate in the corporate tax team. Wanting to build strong technical and research skills, which are important in my work, I completed a secondment in the firm’s tax technical knowledge team, researching new legislation and writing technical papers. I’m currently completing a Masters of Taxation.

It’s important to keep up to date through self-study and reading – not just on tax law matters but also on market issues that potentially impact clients. This is fundamental to providing relevant advice to clients.

I've had the opportunity to work with a wide range of inspiring people, both at PwC and with internal clients. I very much value the relationships I've developed and enjoy catching up with these contacts at technical forums or networking events, such as the Women Enjoying Leadership and Living events, which provide a forum for senior women in leadership positions to network.

What do you do to unwind?

In my spare time, I like to catch up with friends, cook and do a yoga class or two. As it gets warmer, I look forward to spending time at the beach.

What advice can you give to graduates?

Take the time to develop a good technical base and a broad knowledge of tax law. The depth and breadth of the profession varies depending on the role and the type of business you are working in. Don’t be afraid to try different roles in different industries as, combined with a sound knowledge base, a career in tax can take you anywhere!

For more information on graduate careers at PwC visit their student careers website.

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