Hi! My name is Michael Breen and I work in PwC, Dubai
Michael, tell us about your path from college to a career in tax?
Well I did an Honours Business degree with CIT, and when I graduated, I got offered a trainee contract with Peevers Slye Cotter (PSC) in Kerry. During my time with this company I got involved in a number of tax projects, which really sparked my interest in tax.
I realised I wanted to specialise in tax and gain further exposure to the area and was delighted when I was offered a tax position with Kieran Ryan & Co. In my interview, they were interested in speaking to me about how my previous experience in tax would help me in a tax specialist role and also what my aptitude was like for research, writing, teamwork etc. – skills that are so important in a career in tax.
What is it like working in the tax department in PwC Dubai?
I work in the Mergers and Acquisitions and International Tax Services team in Dubai. While there is very little tax in Dubai, most of my work relates to activity in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa, and even further afield. Working cross borders can be quite challenging, but very enjoyable - no two days are the same.
With the continuous development of the region, evidenced by the huge increase in M&A activity, I am getting great exposure to large multinationals and private equity houses, and getting involved in large transactions.
Much of my work revolves around project management, liaising with the client and their advisers and then with PwC teams in many different territories, to put together one collective piece of PwC advice.
It has been great to learn about new cultures and working environments. My colleagues are from about 20 different countries, from Canada, to many European countries, to the Middle East and South Asia. Engaging with them has been a learning exercise, but one which I believe will benefit me both personally and professionally in the long term.
How do you balance your career and personal life out in Dubai?
I have just started in a new role and with a new firm, been promoted and I am about to get married, so it has been very hectic this year. I try to do as much as possible during the week so the weekends are kept free to spend with my wife to be. In order to prepare for the big day we also undertook some personal training at a nice gym near us, which has been great. We also have a workout group within PwC that meets every Saturday morning to exercise in the park.
How can you sum up the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification?
Without a doubt, the best thing about the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification is you can go anywhere with it, it is well respected and gives you a thorough understanding of tax concepts, making it easier to adjust to working in other tax jurisdictions. Even though I am working outside of Ireland, the principles that I have learned on the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) programme can be applied worldwide. But I also try not to lose my Irish tax knowledge by keeping up to date with the Irish Tax Institute’s publications.
To find out more about a career in PwC, please visit their website.