“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is the advice from Deloitte tax director Julia Fox.
Where do you call home?
I live in Gateshead with my husband, two teenagers, two cats, a dog and a budgie.
I’m originally from Sunderland – I lived there until I was 21 before taking myself off to London for two years after university ended. When I came back, I started work in Newcastle and living in Gateshead was more convenient for commuting so that’s where we settled (but I will always be a Mackem at heart).
Tell us about your role?
I’m a tax director at Deloitte, a multinational professional services organisation. I am based in the North East and primarily work from our Newcastle office. In terms of qualifications, I am a chartered accountant and a chartered tax advisor. I’ve worked at Deloitte since finishing university.
Most of my time is spent helping people to change the shape of their businesses where things are not working properly – this can include buying and selling businesses, combinations, demergers or simplifying structures. I provide the tax advice that is needed to support these major changes.
The best thing about my job is that I get to meet and help lots of different people from different backgrounds and I learn something new every day.
How did you get to where you are today?
Mine has not been a straightforward path. I never set out to work in tax – I wanted to be a doctor at first. That didn’t work out for me, and I’ve had a couple of changes in course along the way.
I was the first person in my family to go to university. Whilst my family were very supportive it was quite the experience for us all. When I finished my course, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do – I did think about teaching for a while but ultimately ended up moving to London and joining an accountancy firm – not really appreciating what the business did and the breadth of things that I could do.
After a trying out a few different areas of the accountancy business I settled on a move to tax a few years ago and I’ve been here ever since.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
Sometimes it was quite difficult to believe in myself and it took a long time for me to build confidence in my abilities and relax enough with my clients for them to get to know the real me.
All of these struggles were internal to me – and were for me to deal with, with the support and guidance of others. Throughout my career my employer has supported me fully and I’ve been lucky enough to have some really strong role models and managers who believed in me, let me find me feet and consistently challenged me to do more and develop myself.
It’s also been really important to have my family around me – their love and support has been invaluable (and they’ve never failed to keep me grounded)!
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
I think it’s more about a sense of achievement rather than a feel for success.
The first time was I think when a client gave me the following feedback:
“I would just like to express my gratitude to you for the support given by you to me over the last 18 months. Above all was your honesty and availability. Seldom do I come across people with the values that you have, your guidance and then your tenacity to drill down into the detail has made what was a difficult situation manageable. Winston Churchill once said “if you’re going through hell keep going”, and that is true however all the better for having someone by your side during the journey”
I was obviously delighted with this, and it really brought home to me that having my clients feel that I was on their side, going the extra mile and feeling like a valued part of their team was what I wanted to do and I’ve tried to bring that feeling to all of my business relationships ever since.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young females?
It’s important to start out with a plan as to where you want to be in life – otherwise you’d never actually get started. However, be flexible and if things don’t work out the way you want them to don’t be afraid to change course if you need to – life is short!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t sweat the small stuff – accept that you’ll get where you’re meant to be and look back every now and again and be amazed by just how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved. Don’t beat yourself up for the small setbacks you’ll inevitably have along the way – you learn from them, and they do make you stronger (I appreciate that sounds really clichéd but it is true).
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
Authentic, contribute, positive.
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