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Lessons in efficiency…by Catriona Cookson

For some of you this may be the first week back to work – welcome to 2018! You may have started the New Year with a spring in your step, renewed enthusiasm for your job and ready for all the challenges of 2018 …..or you may have come back with “It’s time for a change” at the front of your mind.

Whatever you’re thinking, here’s something light hearted below to start the year. Well, I say light hearted but there’s a serious underlying message from the article below which looks at “Procurement Lessons from the office tea round”.

How many other organisations particularly in the public sector are operating in a similarly inefficient way? And as always, it’s the little things that make a big difference. I was surprised they worked out people were having 3 cups of tea a day – I’ve probably had that by 11o’clock!!

Another article caught my eye last week on the future of Irn Bru – apparently the recipe is being changed to reduce the sugar content in advance of the government levy on sugary drinks coming into play this year. Whatever your views on the sugar tax and its validity, the idea of people stockpiling Irn Bru made me chuckle in that first week back to work after Christmas.

So whatever your tipple be it Tea, Irn Bru or something a bit stronger, we take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and prosperous 2018. ….and if that includes thinking about making a career change and/or recruiting for your team, you know where to find us.


Tea Round

Cost of Brexit…

Interesting article outlining the potential cost of additional duties payable by AstraZeneca following the UK’s departure from the European Union without a new free trade agreement.

Click here to read the article.


BLT: In-house Indirect Tax Recruitment

It’s been a particularly great six months for in-house Indirect Tax recruitment round here at BLT; we’ve successfully filled all but one of the permanent in-house Indirect Tax opportunities that we have been engaged on since March 2017!  A fair few more currently in train….but we’re delighted with how things have gone so far this year.

We’re not exactly known for blowing our own trumpet, but in an age where the temptation is for some companies is to shove an advert up on Linked In and see what happens, we’d suggest that this isn’t the most productive way of recruiting into such a niche area like Indirect Tax – you’ll save yourself time, money and an awful lot of aggravation by coming straight to the specialists. More often than not, you’ll likely get either no responses, a few of mostly dubious quality or applications from broader based tax/accounting specialists who haven’t got the deep specialist experience required! We’re regularly called upon to ‘rescue’ a recruitment assignment when direct sourcing or other larger, less specialised tax recruiters have failed. So why is this?

  • Quite frankly, most Indirect Tax specialists don’t have the time or energy to scour Linked In looking for the latest jobs. Most are productively and happily employed in their current roles and are more passively alive to hearing of alternatives. Which is where we come in.
  • Indirect Tax specialists tend to leave management of their career moves to BLT; they trust us to come up with the most appropriate options, and advise whether or not it’s something they should consider.
  • No-one likes applying online to a faceless entity! Whether they need more background information as to why the role has arisen, the culture or the organisation or more insight into role content above and beyond words on a job description, that’s what BLT provide.
  • After 30 years of specialising exclusively in Indirect Tax recruitment, we’ve by far the largest network of contacts in order to deliver the right result.
  • Working with BLT gives a company a stamp of approval in the eyes of the Indirect Tax population – they know that the company knows what its looking for with the Indirect Tax hire, and therefore have engaged with the right recruiters to help with the search.
  • Our clients trust us to advise them appropriately; they’ll have been given advice on what kinds of background would be most appropriate for the hire; they’ll have gained insight into current market conditions, they’ll know that we fully understand the brief and the drivers behind the appointment.
  • BLT don’t submit inappropriate CVs. Simple as that.
  • BLT don’t put applicants forward without candidates’ express permission. You’ll know that the applicants are genuinely interested in the role and your company, minimising fall-out along the way.
  • We’re adept at project managing recruitment assignments; spotting and dealing with any possible hurdles, ensuring applicants are engaged with the role, chivvying things along and managing expectations from both sides.

Maybe you have an Indirect Tax hire on the cards coming up and need some advice? Maybe you’re struggling to fill an existing Indirect Tax slot? Talk to the specialists, we’ll do our very best to deliver the best candidate for the job within the timeframes you want.

For more information about BLT’s services and how we can help, contact Guy Barrand or Emma Wade at or + 44 (0) 207 405 3404


Guy's blog


A recent YouGov survey, carried out as part of a partnership between the Centre for Ageing Better and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation showed one in 5 adults who retired in the past 5 years have found it to be a difficult transition.   The issues people were concerned about included money, feeling bored, missing social interactions at work, losing purpose and being lonely.

Yet despite these fairly fundamental concerns, the survey showed that most retirees had done little to plan for this major life change, with over half revealing they didn’t seek any prior help or guidance.

The concept of retirement is undoubtedly changing, and is very different to that experienced by previous generations. For many it is no longer the gold watch at 60 or 65, followed by a gentle retreat into your twilight years accompanied by a mug of cocoa and slippers by the fire. Even though they have reached the conventional age of retirement, many will be compelled to carry on working through necessity, many because they want to.

But it is not just work. In my experience, there are a good number who choose to ‘retire’ from their first career early and therefore are younger and not ready to give up on fulltime work. They want to do something meaningful, but are not sure how to go about it, how best to utilise the skills and experience they have built up in their professional life.

In all cases, work isn’t the only consideration. You may well have things you want to achieve, a bucket list of activities you want to enjoy, and have the energy and curiosity about the world to do them.  Travel, volunteering, charity work, studying, learning new skills – the list is endless. But planning these activities can seem daunting and it difficult to know where to start, especially if up until now you have been wholly focussed on your professional life and therefore haven’t given much serious thought to any of this.

Then there are the intangible issues – are you ready mentally? How do you look back on your career? How will you approach the lack of structure? The absence of work colleagues and clients? The mental stimulation you have enjoyed at work? The status that your position has provided?

If any of the above resonates with you, you might find my FutureLife retirement coaching programme an ideal way to help you plan for this new and exciting phase of your life.

Through a series of structured sessions, we will tackle the issues that are important to you, and I will work with you to create a tailored plan to enable you to enjoy a happy and productive retirement.  I will help you formulate a road map for the coming months and years ahead that you can use as your guide and reference point.  The sessions will also provide you with the opportunity to work through any fears or anxieties you might have as you approach this milestone.

This can be a time of mixed emotions – retrospection, pride, anxiety, joy, apprehension, excitement, trepidation. Channelling these so that you approach retirement with a positive attitude and a plan that will work for you are crucial to achieving a successful retirement and the FutureLife programme with work with you to achieve this.

If you would like to have an informal discussion as to how my Coaching programme might help you or members of your team plan ahead, please contact me, Liz Watt :


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


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