I think I am a bit of a hybrid. My Dad’s family are from Guyana and the North East; my Mum’s are Welsh. Born in York, I grew up in Shropshire but now live in the North East—my Dad is very happy that my son is being brought up a Sunderland AFC season ticket holder.
I’m twice married—neither worked out but I did get two amazing kids out of the last so I’m not complaining. I am asthmatic with balance issues and nerve damage following a lesion in my brain and attempt to run, though I’m not fast. I am obsessed by The National (the band, not to be confused with national-ists) and I like the occasional gin. I’ve had 40 years of an interesting life, ups and downs—to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m currently working as LB’s Business Change Manager, a varied role which gives me the opportunity to ask lots of difficult questions, find out about all kinds of things and speak to a wide range of people right across the department. I love my job, but there is far too much of it, something I think we all feel these days—and a big reason why ARC is so important to me. I see, with regularity, the long hard slog that my colleagues in all grades put in to make sure they do their very best for the department, their teams, and our customers. I’m really proud to work alongside such a dedicated bunch and whilst I do genuinely believe that most of the time our employer is too—I know HMRC also gets things wrong in that respect, and we need to stand up for each other. We deserve to be treated fairly.
I started working for the Inland Revenue back in 2000 and being from good Welsh stock immediately joined PCS. I came on a temporary fixed term contract as an AA on the Post Team in Merry Hill, Dudley. I never dreamed I’d still be here 19 years later. I’ve been an AO on the ‘End of Year’ team, an O Band in Primary Compliance (one of my favourite ever jobs), I’ve taken cases to tribunals as part of my ITC technical training. I went on to be part of the last ever CPT cohort (how many versions of the G7 technical training courses have we had?) and around then I joined ARC because PCS openly said to me they weren’t interested in the issues trainees were facing at that time.
Promoted to G7 in 2009, I began working as an International Issues Manager in L&C*. Moving to the North East for family reasons in 2011 I applied for a job as Deputy Head of Profession for EC and VAT in L&C—another job I loved, which opened my eyes to the value-add that non-technical roles can bring, even in a technical environment. I was promoted in LB Newcastle as G6 Tax Professional Manager in 2013 when I returned to work after having my daughter—a job I only applied for because it brought the chance of working for the legendary Jeff Brice.
What next? I have zero desire to be in the SCS at this point in my life—let’s face it, I probably have a good 30 years left before I can retire so let’s save something for the future and even with a supportive partner (I do have this now and I’m very lucky) it’s hard work juggling children and work as a single parent. I don’t need anything that’s likely to make my life more complicated but I do like a challenge so…. Who knows? ARC has plenty of challenges to keep me occupied and I think this next year is shaping up to be a really good one.
I joined the Inland Revenue on 13 May 2003 aged 22, not out of a renewed desire to work with tax but through a winning combination of giving up law, not knowing what I wanted to do and the seductive knowledge that the biggest employer in Cumbernauld was a mere 10 minute walk from my home. My intention, like so many others, was that it would be short term. A stepping-stone. A job to fill in until “something else” came along. I applied for an AO role and the department, clearly impressed with my application, immediately offered me a role as an AA on the Self-Assessment, Time To Pay helpline.
Just over 16 years later, I am a G6 Customer Compliance Manager in Large Business. I completed the Inspector Training Stage 1 in November 2006 (definitely the last tax exams) and then worked as a Status Inspector, an Employment Income Tech, an Associate Trainer and finally, a caseworker and mentor in the Affluent Teams. In 2012, I joined the accelerated version of TPDP (definitely the last tax exams) and on completion of the course joined Counter-Avoidance in November 2015 as a G7 Technical Lead, advancing to G6 Litigation Lead before joining LB in June this year.
So what happened to “something else”? While my view of tax law certainly changed at some point over the years, it wasn’t the driver for joining ITS1. My AA salary of £10,300 played a part but so did my first managers in the department. I was very fortunate they were passionate about the work of the department, as well as the learning and development of their staff. While they recognised the value of experience, with one strange exception*, they did not accept that “time served” was the basis for opportunity or advancement. I think that environment formed the basis of my career.
With the benefit of hindsight, supporting or developing others has been at the heart of each role I’ve held. Although I get great satisfaction out of winning technical or legal arguments, I get equal enjoyment helping others improve, develop or be in a stronger/better position. In supporting others, I maintain the view that I should be working toward a point where they do not need me. That has driven my choices over the years, including joining the union.
I was a member of PCS from the moment I joined the department until starting TPDP, leaving because I no longer saw the benefit. Despite encouragement from fellow trainees, I didn’t join ARC until March 2015. When I did, it was because of the passion of local members and seeing the positive impact that union support had on my colleagues, be it during exams, grievances or personal matters. I believe that I can add something to that and was delighted to be appointed to the National Committee earlier this year. I’ll do my best to work toward a time when members no longer need our support.