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From DCU to Silicon Valley – My Career in Tax Journey

From DCU to Silicon Valley – My Career in Tax Journey

My name is Ronan Ferry, and I work with PwC.

Ronan, can you tell us about your college degree.

I did a degree in Accounting and Finance, and a Masters in Accounting, both from DCU.

What was it about tax as a career that interested you?

With the degree I was doing I knew I wanted to go into auditing or tax. I spoke to friends who did summer internships in the “Big 4” as well as the professionals working in both audit and tax. Based on friend experiences and the type of work which the professionals explained, I knew tax was more suited to me. Having a mixture of law, maths and accountancy appealed to me much more than auditing.

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

I really wanted a career with the Big 4 so I applied for all the Big 4 as part of their graduate intake programmes.

I found the recruitment and selection process to be very structured. All the firms had their set application forms and recruitment schedules. This allowed me to prepare and focus well in advance.

Tell us a bit about your job and the type of clients you work on?

I am currently a tax director in the San Jose International tax services department in PwC US. I am on secondment from PwC Dublin.

My clients are generally large well known global west-coast based software and internet companies.  This entails working on a very wide variety of tax issues and planning. Typically, this includes advising on structuring their legal entity set up as they enter new territories and markets. It is ensuring they manage withholding tax and plan efficiently to avoid any tax risks, at home and abroad, that might arise . It is ensuring that these companies have their cash and profits in the right place to support their business tax efficiently.

A typical day will include a lot of interaction with clients either by phone, video conference or meetings. I work in international tax so much of my work deals with tax issues in a wide range of countries, whether it is my clients investing in other countries or wanting to repatriate cash from them. This means I am always in contact with the network of PwC offices around the globe. Tax is very much about working in teams so you spend a lot of time during the day meeting with the various colleagues and teams on clients or projects to get updates, research and come to conclusions on tax technical points.

How were you able to use the knowledge and skills learned as part of your Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification in your job in San Jose?

Adapting to a different business culture is challenging but it is similar to Ireland in many ways. Coming from Ireland, our training and our approach to work, client relationships and research and understanding is very valued in the US and something my US PwC colleagues and US clients hold in high regard. There is no professional tax institute in the US nor professional tax qualifications like we have in Ireland so the training and experience I got from the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification and training in PwC is a valuable asset to possess while working over here.

The Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification really equips you for working in the real world. It is not just technical reading and learning, instead there are case studies and workshops that really helped me understand the application of tax to business situations and to apply the knowledge learnt to real life business and commercial scenarios.

What most appeals to you about the job?

For me, it is the variety, no one day is the same. Tax, for me, is a very dynamic career. You are always dealing with different people, either within PwC or within client businesses, and always dealing with different tax issues and tax queries. It is also the ability to travel and work abroad and the different experiences and opportunities which that brings.

What most appeals to you about working specifically in tax?

The fact that we can bring real “value add” to our clients whether it is ensuring that they remain compliant to assisting them in having as efficient a tax structure as possible. Tax laws are always changing, domestically and internationally, which means I am always developing my knowledge and experience. I am constantly being challenged!

Working in tax gives me a lot of exposure to businesses and executives, how they operate and what makes them successful. This exposure gives me a much more rounded experience and the more I know the business and my client the more I can add value by taking the tax law and applying it to real time business issues.

What advice would you give any college students who are considering a career in tax?

If there was one piece of advice I would give any student considering tax it is definitely to do their research as to what type of career in tax they would like to pursue. There are many different options in working in tax, from working in industry to working in practice, to working in corporate tax, individual tax or indirect taxes. There are many different options to training in tax and pursuing a tax career. From my own experience, beginning my tax career in practice through a training contact and doing my Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification gave me a better foundation and overall experience to pursue a career in tax.

What are the career opportunities in your sector?

Working in international corporate tax means there are many opportunities in my sector, both in Ireland and abroad. I work mainly in the internet and software industry so working in Ireland, which is such an international / European hub for global companies, and in this sector definitely presents itself with many career opportunities at all levels. This can be from working on these companies in practice or going to work at the companies themselves.

Finally Ronan, where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

I am now a director in the US so I would certainly hope to progress to be a tax partner within the next 5 years – fingers crossed!

To find out more about a career in PwC, please visit their website.


Irish Tax Institute