Deloitte alum Nigel Jemson has flourished in the world of tax and continues to do so at telecommunications and digital services company Spark. We spoke to him about his memories of Deloitte, his big win at a national policy competition and his two-wheeled adventures at the weekend.
How has work in the last year been for you?
The lockdown hit just before the tax filing deadline which added to the stress at the time. Fortunately we were prepared to e-file our tax returns since it was difficult to file these in person.
Working for a company with an agile mindset that moves at pace makes Spark an interesting place to work but also more challenging for tax to keep up.
Have there been any lessons you’ve taken from 2020?
I learnt during the lockdown that it is okay for life to slow down and be less busy and to prioritise my time on the most important things.
What was your role at Deloitte and when were you here?
I was in the tax service line and started as a Consultant. I’d already had two short internships in the summers before that, which was a great opportunity to see what Deloitte was like and to meet the team. Then I joined full time in 2013.
I began by doing basic tax compliance and client work and then over time moved onto a variety of different areas. One was working in tax policy with the Corporate Tax Payer Group, which was fundamental in my development as it helped me develop my policy thinking. That interest eventually led to me entering the Tax Policy Scholarship last year, which I won!
What was your fondest memory from the firm?
I worked with some great people and the learning opportunities I had at the firm really set my career on the right path.
Were you offered any strong pieces of advice at Deloitte that you still use?
A lot over the years. What I remember the most is when I was about to leave, I was talking to Deloitte partner, Patrick McCalman and he reminded me to keep developing my skills and pushing myself. I thought that was really good advice and that's what I've tried to do since leaving Deloitte as well - you've got to take responsibility for your own career journey.
What do you do at Spark?
I'm the Group Tax Manager, so I'm responsible for managing compliance for all the Spark Group companies, advising the people in the business on various tax issues, and preparing the financial reporting calculations for tax. The Spark tax team also advises on any policy that Spark is interested in and helps with preparing submissions. It's a lot of variety, which is why I enjoy it!
You are also an enrolled barrister – how does your legal background inform your work?
I think it's been really valuable to have a law degree as background, as it helps me when I’m analysing legislation, crafting arguments and preparing advice.
You’ve mentioned you won the national Tax Policy Scholarship in 2019. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about the competition and your winning entry?
The idea behind the competition was to encourage young tax professionals to engage in tax policy and encourage new thinking. The competition evening was attended by a lot of influential people in the wider tax community, so it’s an excellent way to get the concepts out there.
I proposed an idea that was a win-win for both Inland Revenue and for business taxpayers - a trusted taxpayer regime. The concept involved small businesses opting in to give IR real-time access to their financial information and accounting software, and in turn, they would get a 10% tax discount and wouldn't have a file an end of year tax return. I designed it with the purpose of reducing compliance costs and IR's administrative costs.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in tax?
Hmm, I’ve always wanted to work in accounting so my current role in tax is perfect for me. But I'm also a bit of a cricket fanatic, so being a cricket commentator would be the dream job.
What do you do for fun outside of work?
I really enjoy road cycling and mountain biking, especially in summer when I can head out before work or at the weekend. I’ve also got a little daughter who is fifteen months old, so my weekends and free time is usually spent hanging out with her. She was born around the same time as the Tax Policy competition. It was a very busy time!