Hi, my name is George Thompson, Senior Manager with GE.
George, tell us about your educational background?
I studied for the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) exams in Waterford Regional Technical College (now Waterford Institute of Technology) on a full time basis, which covered the (then) first three stages of the CIMA qualification. A couple of years later, following a move to the UK and gaining practical experience, I completed the final exam. Having already met the practical experience requirements for admittance, I was able to immediately apply for Associate membership of CIMA (ACMA).
When did you decide you were interested in tax as a career?
My career in tax was initially meant to be a short term role as a means to get additional practical experience in the tax area for a couple of years. I worked with Thorn EMI at the time, and an opportunity presented itself internally to move to the tax function from a mainstream accounting role. I thought this was a good move career-wise given that the tax team were involved in all aspects of the business decisions taken and the work they did was very interesting and wide ranging. As a result of this initial move to tax, I worked for 10 years in various UK, European and International tax roles in the UK and found my CIMA training invaluable in each role and still do today.
I have found the move to tax a challenging but rewarding one and a decision I have never regretted making in my career. As a result, I have worked since then in International tax and transfer pricing roles ever since.
Why did you decide to pursue the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification?
Well, I initially took the Irish Tax Institute’s Tax Technician course as a means to keep current on Irish tax practice and fulfil my CPD requirements for CIMA but mostly, as I was responsible as Tax Director for GE Money Ireland at the time. Having passed the Tax Technician exams and got into the habit of taking exams again, I decided to pursue the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification. After a lot of effort, I fulfilled a long held ambition of passing the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) exams, with first time passes in 3 successive sittings.
Passing the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) exams and holding the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification is recognition of the technical ability and expertise of its members, both in practice and in industry, who are held in very high esteem both in Ireland and abroad and hold a variety of senior positions, as a result.
Tell us about your current role with GE?
I work at GE in Ireland where I am a Senior Manager specialising in Transfer Pricing.
My role consists of advising a range of GE’s businesses, in relation to Transfer Pricing matters, determining policy, supporting business projects and initiatives, as well as leading a range of cross business projects and initiatives. I also support our businesses in areas of tax audit, transfer pricing documentation and training.
As no two days are the same, I get involved in many (if not all) aspects of the businesses I advise, which are in most countries around the globe. My CIMA training, the knowledge I gained on the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification, plus the International Tax and Transfer Pricing experience gained over the years, are all important in helping me to better understand the processes, issues and considerations involved when advising our businesses.
How did you find balancing studying for the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification and work commitments?
Working during the week and taking intensive classes at the weekends and studying was very tiring and did require a high degree of focus and investment of time (and also the forbearance of my wife) while I was studying and taking the exams, but it was all worthwhile in passing the final exam.
What are the career opportunities in your sector?
With the advent of the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, almost all businesses will have some impact arising from the published changes and those still to come from this project. Transfer Pricing will also be significantly affected by these changes and will need to adapt to these changes when adopted by OECD member and observer countries in the coming years.
It is an exciting time to be in the transfer pricing area and as a result, multinational businesses, their Irish affiliates and advisory firms will likely need to increase their headcount to be able to cope with the expected increase in workload arising from this global initiative.