In this special interview we talk with tax partner Lisa Kinsella about her career with Crowe and the key influencers in her journey. She talks about what she looks for in a new hire, her personal leadership style and the key traits to having a successful career in tax.
Crowe’s tax department has grown considerably over the last couple of years, and we are constantly looking for talented people to join our team. To find out more about our current vacancies visit the careers section of our website.
Did you have an important mentor in your professional or personal life?
In my personal life, I think my dad has always been my mentor. He has three daughters and has always pushed us to be independent and part of that was a strong focus on education. He had a lot of confidence in my abilities, always pushing me to succeed and encouraging me every step of the way, which in turn gave me great confidence.
In my professional life I have had the chance to work with several different people throughout my career and I have learned from each – in some cases learning what not to be like as well as traits I would like to emulate!
Back in 2012 when I knew I wanted to leave a Big Four firm, I was considering whether to stay in practice or move into industry. I met Crowe partners John Byrne and Andrew Whitty when I interviewed for a manager position with the firm and straight away I felt really at ease with them. They have a lovely way about them, very personable and relaxed and that was a big factor in choosing the role with Crowe. They have both been a huge influence on my career. While they are both quite different, they are very approachable and inclusive, and I have learned a huge amount from both over the years. I have benefited hugely from John’s technical expertise and learned a lot of interpersonal skills from Andrew with an emphasis on building relationships with your clients.
What is your personal leadership style?
In Crowe we work as a team, and we believe that everyone has something to bring to the table. There is a strong culture of learning from each other and relating to each other as colleagues rather than as someone’s boss, so we all like to bounce ideas off each other.
Even as a partner, every day you are learning something new and different people have different expertise or experience in different areas that you can learn from. So, my style I would say is very inclusive, I like to involve the team as much as possible to get the most out of them and be respectful where I motivate people through including them in decisions.
I like to invest time with people, spending time with them so they understand the bigger picture and involving them in the wider client engagement. Giving recognition then for good work done is another important aspect that I make sure I focus on.
What do you look for in new recruits?
Depending on the seniority, you may be looking for varying levels of technical ability. I also like to get an understanding of the individual’s personality and see how well we might work together and how they might gel with the wider team.
But a big part of someone’s suitability comes down to their interpersonal skills and attitude, so you are looking always for a rounded person with good technical knowledge and a personality that suits our working environment.
What are the key traits to becoming successful within a tax career?
Being a good communicator. Being able to communicate advice to your client in a clear and concise way is key. It is important to understand what is the best approach to advising each client, as different clients digest information in different ways so you need to have the confidence and flexibility to adapt to their style.
Listening, watching, asking questions and learning from others is another key trait. Also, it’s important to take yourself out of your comfort zone and not get too settled in one particular area of the job. To move forward you have to continually take on new challenges and learn new things.
We are always looking for employees who are ambitious and willing to learn, that they put in the individual effort to collectively drive the team forward.
How have you found working remotely – what are the positives and negatives for you?
From a personal perspective, obviously not having a commute and being able to spend more time with family has been hugely positive for me. The challenges for me personally were in the early days, when we didn’t have any childcare, trying to juggle everything.
I recognise that for some of our younger staff it has been particularly challenging. For our trainees, a huge part of your training contract is interacting with your peers and having a social aspect with colleagues, and that has obviously fallen away for most people. Some employees are working in shared living without proper space to work and some people live alone and can feel quite isolated.
In Crowe we did try to assist, where possible, to accommodate those who couldn’t work remotely. A small number of staff were permitted to come into the office to work, following all health and safety protocols. Our social committee has also done a huge amount to help organise online events and bring people together.
From a client perspective, the disruption I am glad to say has been minimal. We were very fortunately that our IT department had infrastructure in place to enable remote working and we were very quick to get up and running once the office closed.
How is Crowe different to other firms?
The partners in Crowe are very hands-on and we invest time in our staff and our clients.
What do you do in your spare time?
Pre-COVID I used to do a lot of yoga, but I have found I don’t enjoy it as much on my own over Zoom. I found it hard to sit in front of a laptop all day for work and then stare at a screen again in my spare time. I miss the in-person classes. I used to drop into a class on the way home from work and have a little “me time” before I got home and had to deal with family stuff.
I am really into fashion and home interiors, so I like shopping and then meeting friends. But a huge part of my week is spent with my family and chauffeuring my kids from one place to the next with all the activities they have!
What are your ambitions?
With a young family I find a lot of my ambitions now are for my children – to work hard to be able to give them all the things and opportunities I got as a child, and maybe more, so they can achieve their full potential.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to your 20-year-old self, what would it be?
Don't stress the small stuff! I was definitely guilty of over-analysing things and getting myself worked up and you learn later in life that they don’t really matter. So often you look back and ask yourself “why was I upset about that?” There is always a solution so don’t get too bogged down with things.
Crowe has several current vacancies that offer the opportunity for you to develop your career in a firm that recognises and rewards talent. If you are a bright, ambitious person who is a good team player but also able to work well on your own initiative, then Crowe is a great fit for you. Check out the careers section of our website for more information.
A career with Crowe