In this special interview we talk with tax partner Cormac Doyle, who recently joined the firm, about his leadership style, how he has built a career in tax and the unique culture and opportunities Crowe can offer someone looking to build a 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?
I don’t think I had any one specific person. It was probably more about taking experiences and bits from working with different people. Throughout my career, within the different organisations I have worked for, there have always been a few people who have helped me.
What kind of values do you demonstrate as a leader?
I would like to think that I have some of the values and traits that I would have seen in other people that helped shape my career. I have learned a lot about coaching off previous colleagues – coaching people rather than managing them – where you take a more personal interest in an individual.
One size does not fit all and how to get the best out of person A will not be the same as out of person B. There is a danger in practice in thinking that everyone is on the same path or trying to get to the same place. I have always tried to understand how each team member ticks and what interests them personal and professionally.
My leadership style is one where I try to find consensus. You cannot get everyone to agree to everything but getting input from everyone, so they have their opinions heard, and arriving at a consensus, I have found works best for me. It is about building trust in your team to enable them to share their opinions and thoughts.
What made you want a career in tax?
It is probably easier to answer that in hindsight. I think liked the problem-solving nature of it – where you are working with an individual or a company that has an issue and a goal to achieve and you can help them get there.
I like the idea that tax is always changing, and you always have to learn something new – new legislation, guidance, schemes to get up to speed on. I like the continuous learning side of tax.
Working in practice has kept me interested as you get to work on a variety of different tax challenges. Each day is completely different. For example, VAT is completely different to income tax – it is chalk and cheese – and I think even the skills you need for both are completely different. Plus, in practice you get to work with a wide variety of clients, from individuals to owner-managed businesses, from Irish to multinational, public and private, from not-for-profit to commercial organisations and across every sector.
One of the attractive things about working in tax is that you often get to help people in advance, to help them plan for tax in their business strategy, rather than only working with them after the fact. In tax, it is much easier to help people plan than it is to help fix a problem.
What do you look for in a new recruit?
It can sound clichéd, but attention to detail is so important for tax. Also, an underappreciated trait is good organisation skills. In a firm like Crowe, where you are working across many different clients and tax heads, you need to be efficient and organised with your day.
Finally, you need good communication skills and an appetite to constantly learn. To best serve our clients, you are always trying to develop a deeper understanding of them and their businesses. Being able to understand the context you are working in and the bigger picture from a client’s perspective is vital. It all comes down to the relationship you build with the client and clarity around what challenges or opportunities they face.
How do you manage your team remotely and what are the positives and negatives of remote working?
It’s been a challenge; I think anyone would say that! It’s been positive for some people and negative for others. The concept of remote working over the last 18 months or so has been intrinsically linked to the emotional challenges and restrictions that the pandemic has brought. As we emerge from that cloud, remote working will be seen in a different light and possibly a more positive way of managing a team flexibly.
The challenge moving forward will be in balancing the needs of the business (and its clients) against the needs of the individual employee. Finding that balance will take a bit of work and planning on both sides and the next 18 months may well pose a different challenge as we try to figure out how we are going to adapt to this new hybrid model.
One positive for me of remote working has been removing the commute and being closer to family. But I know for others they have missed the social interaction that the workplace would have provided, and remote working has left them feeling more isolated.
How is Crowe different to other firms?
I think as a firm there is definitely a very strong culture of building personal long-term relationships with clients. We have many relationships with second- and third-generation family businesses.
As an employer, Crowe has a very strong culture of adapting to the individual needs of our employees. We are flexible in the way we work with employees and put great value in the long-term relationship and loyalty built over the years. At the end of the day, our people are our greatest asset and we recognise that at Crowe and invest in our team. In fact, we get a lot of business referred back to us from our alumni network. It all comes down to relationships, if you look after people they will remember!
What do you do in your spare time?
I have three kids aged 10, 8 & 3 that keep me fairly busy! So a lot of my focus in my spare time is spent around my family and friends.
I have always been interested in sport. I used to play football, GAA and rugby, but now I find myself coaching some of the kids’ teams, which is hugely rewarding. I talked before about coaching from a professional perspective, but coaching sport for kids is equally rewarding. It is great to see someone enjoy themselves and achieve something, whether they are winning or not. In fact, that is a big focus for me and the other coaches – to ensure that the kids enjoy the game and the social aspect of sport, without linking that enjoyment solely to winning.
I also try to keep myself fit with some cycling, which suits where I live in Wicklow.
And finally, if you could pass on one piece of advice to your 20-year-old self what would it be?
Just to relax a bit. Things are never as good (or bad) as it may seem and while you may strive for perfection, things will go wrong, and mistakes will be made, so there is no point beating yourself up or being afraid of making a mistake in the first place.
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