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Women’s Networking Groups – by Liz Watt

One of the joys of developing a  Coaching practice has been the opportunity to work on broader personal development projects that I have long been interested in, and one such has been establishing women’s networking groups.

A networking group can be a powerful thing. But why a women’s networking group? Research shows that one of the ‘unwritten rules’ of advancement in business is to have a strong network, both inside one’s workplace, as well as within the wider business community. And did you know that most women do not have as strong a business network as their male counterparts? Such a group provides an opportunity to develop a network amongst your industry peer group and a platform  to discuss relevant issues in a safe and supportive environment. It is an opportunity to take time away from the office to plan, reflect,  learn and share, gaining confidence through sharing ideas and experiences. Studies show that membership of a networking group helps increase women’s self-esteem, thus aiding them to reach full potential.

Indirect Tax Women’s Network Logo

My first venture has been a  networking group for women in Indirect Tax.  Established earlier this year, it has really taken off.  The founding group is approximately 14 strong, and meets once a quarter for an afternoon.  We have a great guest presenter on a topical issue, there is time to discuss any topics that are relevant to the guests, and there’s plenty of opportunity for networking during the afternoon and afterwards. Its non-technical  – the prevailing view was that everyone gets more than enough technical input back at the office!

So as an example, our first speaker was Jayne Constantinis who gave a fabulous presentation on communication skills and how we can enhance them. It was a really interactive session and stimulated lively debate!  In upcoming sessions, our speakers will cover topics such as personal presentation and how to build a great professional wardrobe that really works for you, stress management / resilience and networking & developing strategic relationships.

I am delighted with how this initiative has taken off and the feedback has been great. For example : ‘a really informative and entertaining session’; ‘took away a lot of interesting points that I will certainly be implementing’; ‘a very friendly and supportive atmosphere for the group’; ‘really interesting and practical tips that can be put into practice easily’.

There seems to be real appetite for the network and the membership is drawn from the profession – Big 4, mid-tier and independent consultancies – and those in industry and commerce. The first group is based in London, for those at Senior manager or equivalent and above. However, given the success of this, I’m expanding – there will be a second London group early next year and regional groups will follow. I am also establishing  a group for newly promoted managers and equivalent, who perhaps have different issues to tackle at this earlier point in their careers.

And of course there is no reason why this networking initiative can’t be rolled out to other areas too so I will be extending this into Direct Tax and Management Consultancy too.

I’m keen that the networking groups should be inclusive and have been gratified at the support and sponsorship I’ve received from male clients and contacts. If there are any men who would like to find out more about the group, or come along as guest speakers, please let me know!

If you would like to find out some more about the Indirect Tax Women’s Network, or if you are interested in how I might be able to set up a network for your particular technical discipline, please get in touch for a chat. Contact me at



There are so many personal development books, blogs and programmes out there that it can be difficult to know where to start.

So to help you, I’ve selected some of the material that I have found powerful, useful and interesting, and included some that have been recommended to me too.

I hope you enjoy them!



Amy Cuddy : Presence

Don’t fake it till you make it, fake it until you become it – the essential guide to improving your body language.

How can we be our strongest selves in life’s most challenging situations? We often approach these situations – job interviews, difficult conversations, speaking up for ourselves – with anxiety and leave them with regret. Moments that require us to be genuine and powerful instead cause us to feel phoney and powerless, preventing us from being our best selves. Harvard professor Amy Cuddy shows us we need to stop worrying about the impression we’re making on others, and instead change the impression we’re making on ourselves.

Malcolm Gladwell : Outliers : The Story of Success

Outliers: The Story of Success overturns conventional wisdom about genius to show us what makes an ordinary person an extreme overachiever.

Why do some people achieve so much more than others? Can they lie so far out of the ordinary?

In this provocative and inspiring book, Malcolm Gladwell looks at everyone from rock stars to professional athletes, software billionaires to scientific geniuses, to show that the story of success is far more surprising, and far more fascinating, than we could ever have imagined.

Steve Peters : The Chimp Paradox

Do you sabotage your own happiness and success? Are you struggling to make sense of yourself? Do your emotions sometimes dictate your life?

The Chimp Paradox is an incredibly powerful mind management model that can help you become a happy, confident, healthier and more successful person. Prof Steve Peters explains the struggle that takes place within your mind and then shows how to apply this understanding to every area of your life so you can:
- Recognise how your mind is working
- Understand and manage your emotions and thoughts
- Manage yourself and become the person you would like to be

Angela Duckworth :Grit: Why Passion and Resilience are the Secrets to Success

In this must-read for anyone seeking to succeed, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth takes us on an eye-opening journey to discover the true qualities that lead to outstanding achievement. Winningly personal, insightful and powerful, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that – not talent or luck – makes all the difference.

 Cheryl Sandberg : Lean In

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is a massive cultural phenomenon and its title has become an instant catchphrase for empowering women. The book soared to the top of bestseller lists internationally, igniting global conversations about women and ambition. Sandberg packed theatres, dominated opinion pages, appeared on every major television show and on the cover of Time magazine, and sparked ferocious debate about women and leadership.

How about a magazine subscription to see you through the winter months? And a great Christmas present! Try Psychologies magazine: Full of great articles on Wellbeing, Happiness, Positive Psychology, Health, Nutrition, with great guest interviews and contributions. For example,  the December issue has an interview with George Clooney talking about anger, respect and responsibility – what’s not to like?!



Retreat : Meditations from a Monastery – BBC Four

A recent BBC series which goes on a search of inner peace in three Benedictine monasteries. Still available on the iplayer.

Mel Robbins : Become the person you want to be

It takes just five seconds to use this tool, and every time you do, you’ll be in great company. More than 8 million people have watched Mel’s TEDx Talk, and executives inside of the world’s largest brands are using the tool to increase productivity, collaboration, and engagement.

In The 5 Second Rule, you’ll discover it takes just five seconds to:
Become confident
Break the habit of procrastination and self-doubt
Beat fear and uncertainty
Stop worrying and feel happier
Share your ideas with courage



Eat Sleep Work Repeat

A lively weekly podcast about happiness and work culture. Hosted by @brucedaisley

All in the Mind

BBC Radio 4 : A programme exploring the limits and potential of the human mind. Listen to the podcast


If you have come across material you would like to recommend, I’d love to hear from you! You can contact me on



INDIRECT TAX MARKET SURVEY – have you completed the questionnaire yet?

It’s that time of year when BLT gather data for our Indirect Tax Market Report and Salary Survey, that’s due for publication at the beginning of 2018. Always an interesting read, the report will include information on global Indirect Tax recruitment trends in the last year, information about sector differentials, data on gender diversity, working patterns as well as salary bandings and benefits information.

The report is only as accurate as the data we receive, so for that we need your help!

To ensure you receive your copy on publication, do take a moment to complete the short survey at the following link. All information received will of course be treated in the strictest confidence, and will be used purely for the purpose of compiling the data for the survey.

Of course the more responses we get, the more comprehensive and accurate the report will be – so a huge thank you in advance for everyone’s input.

You can find the link to the survey here.

Best regards

BLT’s Indirect Tax Team

Salary Survey Image

BLT: Indirect Tax Partner/Director Recruitment

Well what an unusual couple of years it’s been. The Brexit referendum, Trump, economic uncertainties, and often terrifying news here in the UK and abroad – all have been causing havoc with making predictions for the future. Invariably, the first question that we get asked at BLT is ‘What’s been the impact on the Indirect Tax job market?’ – and its not been a simple question to answer.

Certainly, some areas of the market have been affected by the ups and down of the last couple of years: the numbers of junior VAT hires taking place, the regularity of Indirect Tax contracts, in-house roles on mainland Europe/Switzerland all spring to mind as examples.

Conversely however, it’s been a very different story at the more senior end of the spectrum. A large number of professional services firms have been busy positioning themselves for the future, by investing in (and securing) top Indirect Tax talent at often very senior levels. Did you know that we at BLT have effected more Partner and Director Indirect Tax hires in the last two years than ever before?

Some examples of BLT placements since 2015:

  • VAT Partner, Top 10 firm, London
  • VAT Partner, Compliance/Technology, Big 4 firm, London
  • National Customs Partner, Top 10 firm
  • VAT Partner, Southern Region, Top 10 firm
  • VAT Partner, Dubai, Top 10 firm
  • VAT Partner, GCC region, Top 10 firm
  • VAT Director, M&A, Big 4 firm London
  • VAT Director, Technology, Big 4 firm London

We’d go so far as to say that there haven’t been many Indirect Tax appointments at this level in the professional services firms that have taken place without our involvement.

We’re confident that our clients and those we have helped move have gained great value from the BLT experience, and from a personal perspective, we’ve found working on such hires a hugely enjoyable and professionally rewarding experience – we’d love this trend to continue into 2018 and beyond.

So if you’re an existing Indirect Tax Partner or Director thinking about your future career direction, or just simply want a sounding board, do get in touch so we can show you what we’re made of.

To discuss hiring senior talent,  the number to call is + 44 (0) 207 405 3404 and speak to Guy Barrand or Emma Wade (email

Guy's Blog



Management Consultant → Search Consultant: A well-trodden path – by Tariq Siraj

A broker, consultant, strategist and relationship manager walks into a bar. She takes a seat, orders a drink and chats away to the barman.  Actually scrap that, it’s not a bar it’s the HQ of a Fortune 500 firm, the drink is a glass of water and the barman is the COO.  It’s not a joke – it’s a true story.

Where am I going with this? Well the first obvious point is that the broker, consultant, strategist and business developer are all one person.  The second point is that there’s clearly a very successful business developer hiding amongst that skill set too.

The big question is, what does she do? The truth is I don’t know. She could be a management consultant, she could work at a high end insurance broking house, she could be moving up the chain at a private equity firm, or she could be a headhunter/search consultant.

The parallels and strong links between management consulting and search are long-standing and very clear; the skills are eminently transferrable and there is fundamental requirement to be able to contribute on many levels:

Both are polymaths – even if what they know about many areas is on a superficial level, both are commercially minded, both identify opportunities, develop new business, diagnose problems, deliver what is promised, build sustainable relationships, and develop strategic plans for the road ahead.

Both must have that natural gift for talking and yet must be a world-class listener. Both must become a trusted sounding board, councillor, advisor and partner. Optimist and pessimist, yes-man and naysayer.

Moving from management consulting into search – and vice versa – is a well-trodden path. There are many search firms set up by ex-consultants, Directors or Partners of the Big 4 and major strat houses.

The ex McKinsey consultant who set up one such example in Singapore is clear about his motivations:

“When I worked at McKinsey my colleagues complained that the recruiters who rung them didn’t know the consultancy market. They’d ask the wrong questions – often about PowerPoint and Excel skills. I thought I could help consultants peruse their career ambitions”

He spotted an opportunity, but he also spotted the clear transfer of skills.

The ‘recruiter who doesn’t know the market’ is unfortunately an ever-present blight on the search industry.  Unless it is an established and successful player in the market – at BLT we are in our 30th year and were pioneers of the UK management consulting recruitment sector – then there is clearly a need for more expertise and validity in this space – and huge amounts of money to be made.

And remember; even if you don’t know it yet, you already know how to do the job.

-          Tariq Siraj


Tariq Blog

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