Taking the plunge: My career change to AAB

Debbie didn’t see herself as the ‘typical' candidate for the role, but AAB saw the value she could bring to the team. 13 years later, she reflects on how her role in Indirect tax has evolved.

AAB Life Blog

Blog15th Oct 2021

Prior to working at AAB, I had been working in the Civil Service at various offices in England and Scotland for 21 years, of which 14 years were spent training and working in VAT.

I worked in a role that allowed for flexible working hours and working from home which was ideal when my children were young.  However, as time moved on, and for a variety of reasons, I started to think that a change of job was on the cards, so I decided to move on and look for something a bit different.

This was 13 years ago when I was in my mid-40s, and at the time I did wonder if my age, along with the fact that I have no higher education to speak of, would be a hindrance. However, I certainly had plenty of life and work experience to offer.

Following a couple of informal meetings with AAB’s Indirect Tax and Corporate Tax senior team, I began to think AAB would be the right fit for me. I never thought I would work for an “accountancy firm”, maths and arithmetic being my least favourite subject! However, AAB was and has continued to be so much more than that.

As I have no tax or accountancy qualifications, I asked during one of the initial meetings if I would have to enter into a formal qualifications process and I was reassured that “only if I wanted to”. Although it wasn’t my plan it was refreshing to know that it was an option, and that there was no pressure to take this up.

My career has never been my be all and end all. If I have variety in my tasks and an opportunity to continually learn, then I am happy. I can say that AAB has not disappointed!  Over the years my role in the Indirect Tax team has evolved a lot.  When I started at AAB my role in the Indirect Tax Team was to support the team lead and colleagues with VAT compliance work. Part of my job now is to provide UK and overseas VAT advice, deal with HMRC VAT and Customs enquiries and input to due diligence projects. Plenty of variety there!

I have learned so much from colleagues and just from doing the job. I remember in my early days asking what “due diligence” was and my Tax partner very patiently explaining. I’m sure that I have had many questions over the years but there has always been someone to explain.

Although AAB is a training firm, and we have many trainees studying and taking exams to achieve their chosen qualification, there has never been any pressure to take this route. For me, commitment and hard work are just as rewarding, and this has always been recognised in my team.

As the Indirect Tax team has grown, I have enjoyed being part of this process and particularly enjoy supporting our new team members.  It is always rewarding to see them progress and gain confidence in the areas they wish to specialise.

Overall, I would say that I was an early indication of AAB’s commitment to creating inclusive and strong teams. I didn’t see myself as a ‘typical’ candidate for the role, but AAB saw the value I could bring to the team, and 13 years later I would say them backing me has paid off!

By Debbie Smith, Indirect Tax Assistant Manager

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