For Barden’s last Life in Tax interview series of 2017, Kate Flanagan caught up with Mary Honohon – Tax Partner in PwC. Read why Mary thinks it has never been a more exciting time to work in tax and she provides her thoughts on the skills required for the future tax professional.
Barden’s Life in Tax Series features inspiring tax professionals across practice and industry to share their career experiences. However, the main purpose of the series is to share useful insights with our tax community in Ireland, with particular focus on the skills needed for success in an ever-changing business landscape.
For a review of the interview series so far, please find the links below:
Mary Honohan, Tax Partner at PwC and AITI CTA, is part of the FDI group; specialising in large corporates investing into Ireland. Mary works with a wide variety of clients, mainly Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences and Retail and Consumer. She is also a Member of the Board of the France Ireland Chamber of Commerce, Past President of the Irish Tax Institute and Past Chair of the Institute’s Education Committee. In her spare time, Mary enjoys reading, walking, tennis and travel.
1. Tell us a little about your career to date?
I’m originally from Cork, so I trained in PwC there. At the time it was a small office, which meant that I got to work on a large variety of issues and across all the taxes. That proved an invaluable grounding in tax and a very good platform to develop my career in tax. Following qualification as an AITI CTA, I got the opportunity to transfer to the PwC Dublin office. Luckily for me, PwC encourages movement within the organization. Right now I am now part of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) group. I feel privileged to be able to work with many household named organizations.
2. How did you decide upon a career in tax?
As can often be the case with big decisions, it was more or less by chance. I had a place at UCC to study science but after I sat my Leaving Cert I was offered an unexpected summer job in tax with PwC. I really liked tax so I stayed and decided to study AITI. My whole career has been with PwC. Having trained and qualified in Cork, I then transferred to the Dublin office.
3. What is the most valuable advice that you have been given?
Get a deep understanding of tax right at the beginning. It is good to go on to develop a specialist area but try to make it one that interests you.
4. What would your advice be to newly qualified tax professionals or those trainees starting out?
My advice would be to focus on your technical expertise to start with and become a trusted tax consultant for your clients. Building your network is also a very important tool for anyone at the start of your career. Learn how to network, attend networking events, keep in touch with your class from college and anyone you meet early in your career. Networking is about making connections count. Establishing good rapport with others is a very important component of working life. If you can build relationships well you will be better placed to achieve results.
5. Practice or industry for a career in tax?
I think it is a personal choice. Being in practice I love the variety of working with different clients and the challenge that comes with that.
6. What do you think could be the future skills required for young tax professionals?
- Adaptability – the environment we are operating in is rapidly changing – for example: Data Analytics (the amount of data we have access to, how we can harness insights from data for our clients etc); the changing political landscape (e.g. Trump, Brexit) etc means tax professionals need to be able to adapt to this changing environment. It has never been a more exciting time to work in tax!
- Critical mind set – the ability to take a holistic view, ask questions and be inquisitive
- Creative thinking and problem solving – clients come with complex problems. As tax professionals we need to re-imagine the possible in coming up with new and innovative solutions
- Analytical know-how – be able to interpret and apply complex legislative rules and apply it to client scenarios
- Resilience – we operate in a very busy, stressful and ever-changing environment which is deadline driven. To cope, we need people who are resilient, can deal with competing priorities and enjoy this challenge
- Communication skills – our clients are varied and inevitably very busy. Tax professionals need to able to tailor their communication style to the needs of each of their clients and what those clients expect
- Building Relationships – our business is all about building and maintaining strong relationships – with clients and colleagues alike – we need people who are strong communicators to help forge these relationships.
7. What is your definition of success and/or your mantra?
Success for me is a pleased client and a happy team.