In the summer of 2001, shortly after finishing my third year studying law, my exam results included “Tax Law— 40.00%”. The pass mark was 40% and I remember thinking “A round number is suspicious; I bet the marker was feeling generous”, and “it’s fine, I’ll never have to study tax again”.
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.