As the old saying goes, “you learn something new every day”. For Jo Reed, our VAT manager, the pandemic brought about huge change, therefore a time to learn and adapt.
This month, we caught up with Jo to learn how she started her career in VAT, why she chose GE and her experience starting a new role over 100 miles away during the pandemic.
1. What do you enjoy most about your role/GE?
It sounds very cliché, but I really enjoy the variety in my work. One day you can have a straight-forward query and then a super complicated case that you need to bring the team into. Even after 30 years working in VAT, I learn something new every day from my colleagues or a new client.
2. Have you always wanted to work in VAT? If not, what motivated you on to your current career path?
I mean, no one tells their parents in primary school that they want to work in VAT. I fell into my career in VAT after finishing my English Degree. My first job out of university was as a ‘VAT man’ in Newcastle. I did my training in 1991 and worked within other parts of HMRC including VAT enquiries and DIY claims.
I have always felt very comfortable working within VAT because it’s so logical and ordered.
3. Why did you choose GE?
GE chose me! I wasn’t initially going to do VAT but after my chat with Richard and Glenis, I knew I wanted to work with them and the team. I was also drawn in by the whole GE ethos of breaking boundaries and looking beyond accountancy. When I first looked at our website and social media I was really impressed and surprised how modern and slick the branding was. Usually accountancy firms can come off quite dated and boring online. I knew this was going to be a forward-thinking firm and a great place to work.
4. What do you enjoy most about working at GE?
The team! In my immediate team (VAT) my colleagues are so supportive, helpful and, most of all, so knowledgeable. It’s so impressive to see how much knowledge the team have and I’m constantly learning from all of them – I’m lucky. Everyone in the wider team are brilliant! I started during the pandemic meaning I’ve never met anyone in person. It was a bit daunting at first, but the team made me feel so welcome and have continued to be so helpful and patient with all my admin questions.
5. What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Like I touched on previously, I started my role at GE during the pandemic and live over 150 miles away, so I was concerned about how well I was going to develop working relationships with my team. It was a challenge to get to know everyone, it’s hard enough starting a new job, but starting in a pandemic when you can’t meet face to face was difficult. In the first few months of your new job you’re learning not only new faces and names but new processes and responsibilities too which is a bit more challenging when you’re not a desk away from someone.
6. What's been your biggest achievement?
I feel like I have little wins every day. My biggest achievement this year has been joining a team and doing well in my role even though I’m fully remote! I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit as to how big a change 2020/2021 has been for us. I was in my previous job for 30 years in the office so to start a new role and in completely different environment was a big step! To know you’re valued and feel very much part of a team even when working from your bedroom is a real testament to GE and who we are as a firm.
7. What are your goals for the future?
Be more like Glenis Gibbs and know as much as she does! I hope to stay in the VAT team at GE (if they’ll have me) simply down to the firm working dynamic and the expertise in the team.
8. What advice would you give others that are seeking to pursue a career in VAT?
VAT isn’t classed as your typical career path unlike, say, accountancy or tax. I would say to not dismiss VAT as an ‘easy’ option compared to other taxes – I’m still learning 30 years in! Try and dip your toes into lots of areas of tax including VAT and see if it’s right for you. If you do enjoy the work, try and find a mentor who has lots of experience in the area, VAT is constantly changing and it’s amazing how much more there is to learn even when you think you know it all!
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