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One minute with... Eleanor Christie

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

It’s year end, which is always a busy time at work. However, this year is busier than ever as a result of the current crisis. In a previous role, I was involved with lots of disaster recovery planning, including for pandemics. But in retrospect, I don’t think we ever realised the practical challenges that could arise: the current crisis means that many teams feel the adverse effects of increased absences within teams (due to physical and mental health, childcare, and the need for compassionate leave or bereavement), combined with the additional requirements of tax, finance and operational teams as a result of rapid global changes.

I am fortunate to also work on the boards of several charities, and we are busier than ever. The pandemic has given our charity beneficiaries even more need of our services and this in turn gives us much more to do.

What caught your eye in the Budget?

The chancellor has thought carefully about how to boost economic recovery, and I felt really hopeful for the future after watching the Budget. The significant boost to capital allowances on new expenditure was eye catching, and it will provide a stimulus encouraging growth and investment in the UK. I was also pleased to see that there continues to be help for those industries worst hit by covid. Finally, for many years, businesses have been saying that they need certainty, so it was a positive step to hear the chancellor note this during the Budget.

Share a practical tip from your in-house experience?

I share this tip a lot with anyone contemplating moving from practice to an in-house role. It can represent a big change, so you will need to develop some of your skills. You learn so much in practice, but there is always a team of experts on every topic, and always another partner to sign things off. When I first moved in-house, it initially felt lonely, with much to decide alone. I was asked to give advice on all things tax related (even though I had only really been a direct tax specialist at that point). But the great advantage of working in-house is that you can manage your own time, and this allows you to research a matter thoroughly. You soon gain a sense of when to seek external support and when to feel comfortable giving your advice independently. You also find so much support from wider finance colleagues and the board. Making decisions and delivering for your in-house stakeholders is very rewarding and fulfilling, and this makes it all worthwhile.

I believe that, regardless of whether working in-house becomes a permanent move, it is an important experience for any tax professional as it provides an invaluable insight into the real challenges that businesses face.

I might be biased but leading an in-house tax team is a great route by which to gain experience in leading many wider finance and risk areas. I would always advise others to grab these opportunities.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

I read the Sheryl Sandberg book Lean In after I had my first child. I’m generally not a huge fan of self-help books, nor do I normally think that I conform to their stereotypes. But I did realise that I had played it safe at the start of my career by staying with my first employer in the belief that it would make it easier when I had children. This was long before I had any plans to move in with my now husband, let alone have children. My assumptions about myself proved to be totally wrong, as we both soon realised that my husband was much better at being the main caregiver. I wish I’d known that there was no need to plan to pause my career or choose ‘safe options’.

You might not know this about me…

I seem to have the most eclectic and possibly geeky hobbies. I love Lego, knitting, Harry Potter, Avengers and Pokemon Go. 

Issue: 1524
Categories: One minute with