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Do smoking breaks cause resentment from colleagues? by Catriona Cookson

A recent survey by consultancy firm Willis Towers Watson found that 53% of UK workers believe that smoking or vaping breaks during work hours leads to resentment from non-smoker colleagues. You can take a look at the full article here. Mike Blake, wellbeing lead at Willis Towers Watson believes this resentment may stem from the perceived allowances that are made for smokers ie they are automatically excused.

Conversely, just over a third of non-smokers said they took regular breaks from their working activities.

I was quite surprised by this article on several levels…..firstly, I feel no envy of smokers…if they want to pop outside in the freezing cold then they’re welcome to it !! Secondly, I am sure non smokers take breaks in other ways…..some people (me!) drink lots of tea and so take breaks in a different way, some people feel the need to get up from their desk and stretch their legs, and others may need to step away from their desk to make a call. As long as it’s not the same person doing all of the above, then a bit of give and take is the best way! We all spend time away from our desks and much as I hate smoking, it seems unfair to target this group…….particularly as if you ask nicely they may put the kettle on when they’re coming back in!

On a wider note, it seems the serious message (and the common sense one ) is that we all need some regular breaks. I’m a great fan of always going outside for some fresh air at lunchtime – frankly, it’s the only way you can get to 10,000 – 12,000 steps if you’re sitting in an office and it sets you up nicely for that next cup of tea and the afternoon biscuit!

Smoking Breaks

Wise Words from Charles Handy – by Catriona Cookson

In his latest book “21 Letters on Life and Its Challenges”, Charles Handy is talking to his grandchildren about the world of work and why the world’s big corporations may not be set up to attract and retain the next generation of talent unless they understand that people are not a human resource.

You can read the excerpt from the book here which includes some very relevant messages :

1.Keep it small

“If people truly mattered, then it was better that they worked, if at all possible, in situations where everyone could know each other. For how can you trust or rely on someone whom you never meet? Humans need human-sized groups to be at their best. Small is better, if not essential, to get the job done properly”.

While new technology has a huge part to play in the future of work, Handy believes that “The technology should not try to do what humans do better, and vice versa.”

2. Human scale

Charles suggests that 45 people works best as the maximum size of a work group, considerably smaller than Professor Robin Dunbar’s number of 150 being the largest number of people we can know personally and have some affinity with ….perhaps no coincidence that many consulting firms either merge or sell when they reach a headcount of c150.

So can the major corporates reorganise themselves into small groups linked by technology?…they’ll have to ….“Already young people are turning away from the traditional pyramid organisations in which you clamber your way up the hierarchy over the years. The world of work is increasingly going to realise that small is better.”

3. You are not a Human Resource

Handy identifies the difference between managing and leading ….. “Any organisation whose key assets are talented or skilled people doesn’t use the word manager to describe the people in charge.The title of manager is only used for those who are in charge of things, not people.

It strikes me that this is very sensible and true …that organising, leading and managing are three different activities …..people are not a resource to be managed, rather a person to be led.

Charles Handy

Women and Leadership …why sponsoring rather than mentoring makes a big difference – by Catriona Cookson

If you haven’t thought much about the difference then do take a read of this article from Herminia Ibarra , the Charles Handy Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School.

In it she outlines that women tend to be over mentored and under sponsored. And as a mentor is someone who has knowledge and will share it with you, and sponsor is someone who has power and will use it for you, there is an important distinction. Additionally, while an executive’s store of knowledge will not be depleted by sharing it, the political capital he or she spends fighting for someone to get a key assignment can no longer be used on something else.

However, Herminia argues that sponsorship should not be seen as an either / or role …there is a spectrum of input from mentor to strategiser, connector, opportunity giver to advocate. If you are looking for sponsorship you should be thinking strategically about how you can move along this range …and who is best placed to help you do this.

Women on their way up the career ladder often prefer (or are indeed assigned) female mentors who will have faced similar situations in their career. However, the real key is to find a sponsor who has power and influence and who will use this to your advantage …..and in many organisations this for the time being may still be a man.

If you feel you may benefit from some coaching on how to navigate your career progression, perhaps Liz Watt in our coaching division can help, please contact her for more details.

 

Women and Leadership

ALL ABOUT YOU! The Life and Times of Senior Women in Indirect Tax…

I am delighted to present the twelfth in a series of profiles of senior women in Indirect Tax. The aim is to showcase the talents, experience and stories of these amazing women, and provide some insight into their professional and personal lives, what inspires them and what wisdom they can share. My interviewee this week is Wendy Andrews.

Wendy Andrews

Wendy Andrews is Director of VAT at Bishop Fleming, a UK accountancy practice operating throughout the South West and Midlands. Wendy’s career spans the Big 4, a Group A firm, and she started her VAT journey in HMRC. Wendy has extensive experience in a number of different areas of VAT and focuses on making complex VAT issues understandable by businesses of all sizes. She enjoys getting to know clients’ businesses and business objectives so that the solutions she suggests fit in well for the client.

Wendy Andrews

  1. What gets you up in the morning?
    The prospect of an interesting day ahead – preferably meetings with clients and a nice complicated VAT problem to think about.
  2. Can you describe your current role to me in 1 sentence?
    I’m the VAT Director for a top 30 firm of accountants dealing with the whole range of clients from large to small, from retail to charities.
  3. What led you to your current position?
    After spending most of my career in the big 4 I was tempted 8 years ago to move to a smaller firm in the South West, which was one of the best moves I’ve made. My clients are smaller and often don’t have in house finance expertise let alone tax, so they tend to value the help and support we can provide.
  4. How did you get into Indirect Tax in the first place?
    When I graduated, I joined the civil service and HM Customs and Excise was my third choice of department, so I ended up spending 6 years doing VAT visits to a whole range of businesses, which was great training in VAT and in getting on with people.
  5. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Indirect Tax industry right now?
    It’s a very interesting time – making tax digital has the potential to completely change the way in which businesses interact with HMRC and the challenge for advisers is still to be there to support their clients; and of course Brexit, which could change the whole VAT landscape in the UK if we end up separated from the EU perspective which has been so fundamental to the way VAT has operated.
  6. What advice would you give to young professionals – especially women – starting out on their Indirect Tax careers?
    Take all the opportunities which come along to do as many different things as possible, don’t specialise too soon, make sure you understand the wider business perspective on everything you do; and especially for women – be yourself and understand that you have different but equally valuable skills than all the alpha males you’ll come across.
  7. What barriers have you had to overcome during your career to date?
    When my son was born in 1988 it was much more difficult to be a working mum – I remember having to sneak out to sports day or the Christmas play as it wasn’t quite done to admit what you were doing. I also think it is sometimes more difficult to be heard as a woman.
  8. Have there been times when you considered changing career tack?
    Not really, though I’m always hopeful that I’ll get somewhere with that novel…
  9. What has been your ‘career-defining’ moment?
    Deciding to leave Customs and move into practice in 1989 – I was conscious that career prospects in Customs were very limited and I liked the idea of helping businesses rather than finding things wrong with them.
  10. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
    Amazingly I don’t remember giving it any thought – I wanted to study history at university, but didn’t really think where that would lead me.
  11. What advice would you give to your younger self?
    Don’t be scared of people, don’t defer to people, let them earn your respect.
  12. What are your honest thoughts on social media?
    It’s just a communication tool and shouldn’t take over everything, but it has a valuable place – I use facebook for friends, LinkedIn for work and Twitter mainly for keeping up to speed on politics, although increasingly they all cross over.
  13. If you won a big award, who would you thank?
    My literary agent hopefully!
  14. What’s the best thing anyone has ever done for you?
    When I was a child, Aunty Min lived upstairs in our house and I spent a lot of time with her cooking, sticking pictures in scrapbooks and listening to stories of her life in India. She gave me a wider perspective on life and a positive way of looking at things.
  15. What’s the one word you’d want people to describe you with?
    Thoughtful
  16. Books or kindle?
    Books – though I’d have a lot more room in my house if I got a kindle!
  17. If you could have a Skype chat with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
    Elizabeth I, she has been my role model since I read the ladybird book with Aunty Min (see above) – I’d like to talk to her about being a woman in a man’s world.
  18. What is your best time saving tip?
    A lot of admin will look after itself!
  19. What has been the best part of your day today?
    Sadly, coming across a nice complicated VAT issue which will take a lot of working out!
  20. Favorite holiday destination?
    France – I’m about to go back after a long gap, so many parts still to visit.
  21. Tell me one thing that people might not know about you……
    One of my ancestors was a Cornish smuggler, his grave is by a deserted cove and he was “shot by a cannon ball by persons unknown”.

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ALL ABOUT YOU! The Life and Times of Senior Women in Indirect Tax…

I am delighted to present the eleventh in a series of profiles of senior women in Indirect Tax. The aim is to showcase the talents, experience and stories of these amazing women, and provide some insight into their professional and personal lives, what inspires them and what wisdom they can share. My eleventh interviewee is Rosie Higgins.

Rosie Higgins

Rosie is a VAT Partner at EY based in London, supporting multinational businesses primarily within the Telecoms, Media and Technology sector, as well as with deep experience on international supply chains, and supply chain optimization. She has over 15 years’ experience, including 18 months on secondment in industry. Rosie is a CTA prize winner and holds a first class BSc degree in Mathematics.’

Rosie Higgins

  1. What gets you up in the morning?
    CrossFit (my gym habit/cult) and cold brew coffee!
  2. Can you describe your current role to me in 1 sentence?
    I am a Partner in our London VAT practice working primarily with clients in the technology, media and telecoms (TMT) sectors.
  3. What led you to your current position?
    I started as a grad at EY. I’ve done various different things over the years including 18 months’ secondment in a global consumer products group, and also moved to a competitor firm for a few years before returning to EY. I originally didn’t sector specialise, but after my secondment I focused primarily on operating model and supply chain transformation, and then in the run up to the 2015 e-services changes I found myself working increasingly with TMT businesses around this, so I then moved to focus more on this sector.
  4. How did you get into Indirect Tax in the first place?
    Strangely, I think I am one of the rare people who applied directly to Indirect Tax as a graduate! I did a maths degree so thought tax would be a good place to apply, and Indirect Tax sounded the most interesting (which it is!)
  5. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Indirect Tax industry right now?
    The speed of change and digital transformation
  6. What advice would you give to young professionals – especially women – starting out on their Indirect Tax careers?
    Indirect Tax is so broad and there are so many things you can get involved in, so be curious. Ask questions, get involved, try new things. And don’t underestimate the importance of building your network and developing sponsors and mentors. It’s never too early to start.
  7. What barriers have you had to overcome during your career to date?
    Primarily my own internal barriers! Eg imposter syndrome, and not having the confidence to say when I wanted to progress and ask for help. I’ve found that if you ask for help to progress and are open to hear and act upon honest feedback, everyone will try to help you succeed, but for me the challenge was having the confidence to put my hand up in the first place. EY is a great place to work as a woman, and is differentially investing in female talent, so I look forward to helping build others’ confidence and watching them flourish!
  8. Have there been times when you considered changing career tack?
    Yes, I considered moving to Cornwall and setting up a cider farm….
  9. And if yes – what made you stay?
    It’s still in my retirement plan….!
  10. What has been your ‘career-defining’ moment?
    Making partner from 1 July this year.
  11. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
    A teacher, or backing dancer in Top of the Pops (if only it hadn’t been taken off-air I’d be there now….!)
  12. What advice would you give to your younger self?
    Don’t be afraid to try things and learn to fail. That’s when you learn the most.
  13. What are your honest thoughts on social media?
    Great, with caution – you need to understand why you’re using it, not treat it as a substitute for the real world, and recognise that most people only share their ‘best bits’ so don’t compare. I use LinkedIn for business, and Instagram (primarily for interests rather than friends) but not Facebook.
  14. If you won a big award, who would you thank?
    There are too many people to name here who have helped me get where I am
  15. What’s the best thing anyone has ever done for you?
    In a work context, given me honest difficult feedback.
  16. What’s the one word you’d want people to describe you with?
    Warm-hearted
  17. Books or kindle?
    Books.
  18. If you could have a Skype chat with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
    That’s a tough one – maybe Jacinda Ardern as I think she’s a great leader
  19. What is your best time saving tip?
    Block out time in your diary for anything that needs to get done (including the important non-urgent stuff like self-development). Otherwise something else will come up and your days will get longer and longer.
  20. What has been the best part of your day today?
    Passing on some excellent feedback from a client onto the team member it was about. I am really passionate about developing our people, so I am really excited about using the Partner role to continue to develop more future female leaders
  21. Favorite holiday destination?
    Cornwall or Bali
  22. Tell me one thing that people might not know about you……
    I was a special constable (volunteer police officer) for about ten years, and have arrested lots of people!

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