Your career pathway

Joseph Conboy, Associate Director, KPMG

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What did you study in college and why did you choose a career in tax?

I did a degree in Accounting and Finance and then went on to do a Masters in Accounting, both in DCU. I probably started to seriously look at a tax career during my second year at DCU – we had an income tax module during the year and I found that quite interesting! Some of the accounting modules that I enjoyed were computational while the law modules were theory based – tax seemed to have a bit of both which I suppose made it a nice balance.

How did you go about looking for a job in tax?

I basically applied through the “milk round" process. I remember you had to complete a form and tick a box for the area that most interested you. I obviously ticked the box for tax in all cases! I was lucky enough to have interviews with a number of firms. All of the interviews were structured quite differently so I did a lot of preparation in advance for each one. The final outcome was that I was delighted to accept a trainee contract with KPMG in Dublin.

Tell us about your current role with KPMG?

Well, I am currently an Associate Director in Financial Service Tax at KPMG. To be honest, most days are quite different which really keeps the job interesting. I work on a number of different clients, such as banks, funds etc. However, most of my clients are involved in aviation finance (i.e. they lease aircraft to some of the world’s largest airlines) so most of my day is spent dealing with the various different tax issues that arise in that area. Given the nature of aviation, my work tends to involve working with various people around the world. I am regularly on conference calls with other KPMG offices in places such as London, the Netherlands, Australia and the United States. I think the fact that each day is generally quite different is what appeals to me most. I have a fairly large client base so they all tend to ask slightly different questions when looking at things. I also like the global nature of my particular job – speaking to and working with people all around the world!

How has the AITI Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification helped your career?

Over the last few years, I was lucky enough to have been promoted to Associate Director. The qualification was certainly key to my promotion – KPMG have a rule that you must be qualified before you can be considered for promotion! To be fair, there is a very good reason for that – the qualification is held in such high esteem that if you have succeeded in qualifying, you are ready to take the next step in your career.

Have your worked abroad?

Yes, I was lucky enough to spend three years working on secondment in the tax department in KPMG Sydney. KPMG operate a global mobility or GO programme, they are always looking for people who would be interested in spending a couple of years abroad. From a work perspective, the biggest challenge was learning the Australian tax system. However, given the strong foundation I had in tax overall, it probably helped me adjust quicker to the Australian system. If I hadn’t the knowledge learned through my Chartered Tax Adviser qualification, it certainly would have taken longer to get up to speed with the Australian system. Outside of work, the challenges were all the little things you need to face when moving abroad - finding a place to live, making new friends, and adjusting to a different culture. But overall, working in Australia obviously had some real advantages – the weather, beaches and sport to name but a few!

How important is work/life balance considering the busy nature of your job?

I am very conscious of trying to keep a good work life balance. I think every person is different though in how they manage this. For me personally, I like to leave the office most days around 6.30 or so, relax for a few hours and then check my emails later in the evening to make sure nothing urgent needs attending to. I am not one of these people who stay in the office every night until 9 or 10pm – if I did I’d be asleep at my desk!

Find out more by visiting the Irish Tax Institute's 'Careers in Tax' website here