Your career pathway

Lena Hennessy, Tax Consultant, KPMG

What was your pathway to your job?

I had a different route into accounting and tax. I have been a musician my whole life so I decided when I went to college to go down a more traditional route of studying Music and French. But it didn’t suit me so I went to Paris for a year on an Erasmus exchange. While in Paris I got the offer from KPMG and was recruited directly into the tax department by one of the tax partners. I decided it was the sensible option to take the job and get the qualifications.

What skills do you need to be successful?

On the academic side, studying in a foreign language is extremely challenging. You need to develop a lot of self discipline and study skills which you can apply to your accounting exams. You need to be able to handle pressure, to speak to a room full of people. You’re working as part of a team so you need to be able to interact well..

What’s the toughest part of your job?

I found it difficult to work office hours having lived a freelance lifestyle for so many years.

Is it easy to work in tax via music?

It’s not easy to move disciplines so drastically, but there’s a lot of support and training.

Would you encourage arts students into this career path?

I would strongly encourage anyone from an arts background to look into the accounting route, particularly tax, where creativity really is required to resolve the problem your client is facing. If you can marry the arts with something concrete like a professional qualification like chartered accountancy or tax, once you bring those two together you can go on to anything you want.

Do you have any advice for students?

Have a bit of ‘cop on’ and show initiative. The juniors I would keep coming back to for work are the ones that are clued in and happy to do the work, and do it well.