My Career in Tax
Paul Whiteley, Global Head of Tax and Partner Finance, Herbert Smith Freehills
How long have you worked in tax?
26 years! I started off working for Arthur Andersen in Sydney. Since then I have worked for ABB, Cable and Wireless, HSBC, RB and now at Herbert Smith Freehills where I am the Global Head of Tax and Partner Finance.
What do you most enjoy about working in tax?
The variety of the work. Every week you can work on something new and different. I think this makes tax a really interesting area to work in.
Are there particular specialist areas of tax that you most enjoy and why?
I personally enjoy International Tax. I think it is really interesting to compare different jurisdictions and their approach to tax.
From a UK perspective I do also find VAT interesting.
What advice would you give someone who is ambitious to fast track their career in tax?
Try and get a really broad background across a number of areas of tax. This will really benefit you throughout your career. I also think that if you aspire to become a Head of Tax people skills become very important. You will need to manage and lead a team of people. Understanding how different personalities respond and react to different situations will be very important.
Is there anything you would do differently now if you were just starting out in tax?
I don’t think so. I think going back to my answer on the last question it is really important to get a good broad background in tax which I believe I did. This has helped me as my career has grown and developed.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge facing tax professionals over the next decade?
I think technology and AI is going to have a huge impact on the tax profession. We will always be valuable advisors to businesses however it could impact a lot on how we do our job. On a positive note I think it will provide us all with a lot of new opportunities too!
What do you enjoy most about your current role?
I really enjoy helping people develop their skills and experience. I derive a huge amount of pleasure in seeing people in my team thrive and progress or seeing people who used to work for me do well.
Tell us a bit about Herbert Smith Freehills and why leading tax professionals should consider working for the firm?
We are one of the largest law firms in the world. We work across 26 offices in over 20 jurisdictions. We cover all areas of tax, including complex international tax structuring and transfer pricing projects, negotiations with tax authorities around the world, indirect taxes, expat taxes and employment tax. In addition, an interesting part of the role of the tax team here is that we don’t just provide tax advice and support for the business but we also handle the personal tax affairs of the partners too. I think this means the team is very valued here.
I think we have a very nice supportive culture within the team which makes it a very pleasant place to work.
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