Life at Deloitte
Li, Debby Mi
Tax | Manager
Innovation is not about shutting oneself off, but integrating all resources and seeking opportunities to learn.
Although I majored in law, I prefer the business environment of "combining theory with practice" to the traditional standard jobs. After graduation, I joined Deloitte's Tax Department, attracted by Deloitte's professional and inclusive culture. Fortunately, I did not suffer the "three-year pain, seven-year itch" during my career, instead, I am as passionate now as I was on day one. Deloitte responds quickly and advances with the times in the rapidly-changing information age.
So far, I have had several job transfers within Deloitte - from Business Tax, to Business Process Solutions, to the current Tax Management Consulting (TMC). Every new working mode stimulates me to learn more.
After joining TMC, I had the opportunity to get involved in new areas other than the traditional tax - I needed to further explore clients' demands, discover key issues the clients care about, and analyze whether the demands and issues can be solved by automation, digitization, and informatization. Honestly, as a liberal arts student, this is a challenge for me. In a short period of time after I started working in TMC, I needed to study the special tax policies of different business segments, as well as get to know our products, the system built-in logic, and learn about IT development. I realized that I might not achieve what I had expected by self-study and reading relevant materials. Thus, whenever a department retreat was held, I would consult with the product managers about the questions I had come across in my study and practice. I took every chance to ask questions during breaks, exchanging ideas with product designers and developers. Through the exchange, I was enlightened and they were also inspired to develop better products.
Keep abreast of new techniques and methodology.
Engage in every project with an innovative mind - constantly upgrading and iterative optimization, innovation is everywhere.
In respect to digital transformation, Insight Tax is an important model of our innovation and iterative optimization. Insight Tax contains different modules, such as automatic tax declaration and tax risk management, which all had gone live with the clients by the time I joined TMC. At that time, we were still in the early stage of an engagement with a large holding group. During our communication, we discovered some settings of our product were not applicable for them. We then spent a lot of time trying to know more about the client - since the client was a holding group with subsidiaries in various industries, we studied the characteristics of each subsidiary and their industries through interviews and data collection. Furthermore, we sorted out nearly one thousand tax, financial, and business indicators, classified and analyzed these indicators, and then set the risk management indicators applicable to the client, based on the client's varied businesses and management objectives.
When we set indicators for the clients, we needed to think innovatively, find their potential risks, manage the pain points, and eliminate the risks, without overreacting to the situations that do not pose a risk. This requires our proficiency in accounting and tax processing as well as accurate analysis of the clients' needs and industry characteristics and especially creative ideas on indicator design.
After setting up the indicators, we obtained a large amount of financial information from the public channels, calculating and analysing the financial status of the enterprises in the same industry and with the same conditions as the client, and finally found the indicator threshold for the client's benchmarking. During that process, I constantly communicated and discussed with the project partners, the team, as well as the client's tax personnel – there were numerous brainstorming sessions that sparked new ideas. Finally, we completed the project, and in the meantime, Deloitte's tax risk control index database was further enriched.
Adopt a design thinking, improve step by step instead of at one go.
Respect the team, encourage trial and error; "focusing on the main direction while relaxing on the details" is my strategy for team management.
I think a good leader should be a role model who encourages diversity and is open to different professional backgrounds, working methods, knowledge structures, and perspectives - they make the soil for cultivating innovative seeds. Moreover, a good manager respects every member's opinion and will not think he is more experienced and just turn down "younger people's ideas". Brainstorming is an open communication method we use in our innovative work. Sometimes we just start from someone's novel idea. Even if the idea is initially basic, it is a little shining point and may make great impact after going through continuous trials and corrections.
I like to focus on the main direction and relax the details in the team management. I do not intervene much in the micro details but leave space for the team to try, fail, and improve. Once in the calculation stage of a project, the team put forward various new thoughts and methods based on the existing templates to increase the calculation efficiency. I encouraged everyone to try their methods on a small portion of the calculation work, and then give feedback in their results and compare them to decide an optimal method. This way, we achieved common growth and progress.
Be open to different opinions and encourage sharing of knowledge and content. Encourage distinctive thinking patterns, embrace innovative ideas, and provide an innovation platform.
Understanding the clients does not mean agreeing with them. The core is to provide services in an inclusive and open mind and maintain a good relationship.
"Transpositional thinking" is easier said than done. I think it is not to give up our standpoint to accept the clients' judgment, but to try to understand their real purposes and use our expertise and technologies to provide them with the best service and advice, so that both sides work to progress in the same direction. It is not upsetting to have disagreement - we explain to the clients why "we can't do this", and bring forward a proper solution.
For example, in our TMC projects, since tax informatization is a relatively new concept for the clients, sometimes they will come up with some "unconstrained" ideas. Based on our professional opinion and practical design and development experience of tax informatization with many clients, we normally consider these ideas are impracticable. However, I believe instead of directly negating the clients' proposals, it is better for us to know why they have these ideas and what they actually need, then we present them a feasible solution based on our professional knowledge, in tax and the tax automation system. The clients will eventually see that our solution is the best to achieve their goals. Therefore, my opinion is: when the clients have demands or ideas, we take it as an opportunity to better serve them. In this model – "disagreement arises – alternative solutions appear – an agreement is reached", our bonds with the clients become tighter and deeper.
Propose independent opinions and insights according to the environment and problems the clients face, and become the clients' long-term professional adviser and business partner.