I am delighted to present the first 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 first interviewee is Kendra Hann, leader of Deloitte’s NWE Indirect Tax practice.
Kendra is the North West Europe (NWE) indirect tax leader responsible for managing Deloitte’s NWE indirect tax practice. This includes VAT, customs and excise duties, IPT and environmental taxes. She has worked in indirect tax since 1986 in the tax authority, business and the profession.
Kendra specialises in advising multinational clients on their global indirect tax issues – primarily those in the telecommunications and life sciences sectors. She is widely known in the market as a leading edge practitioner by colleagues in the profession, industry and in government.
Kendra is a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation and represents Deloitte on a number of HM Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs working parties.
- What gets you up in the morning?
My dog, Ralph. A walk with him at 6am wakes me up and gives me time to plan my day.
- Can you describe your current role to me in 1 sentence?
I lead the indirect tax practice at Deloitte across North West Europe (UK, Belgium, Ireland, Nordics, The Netherlands)
- What led you to your current position?
I led the UK indirect tax practice for 3 years and was asked to lead NWE when the member firms combined.
- How did you get into Indirect Tax in the first place?
I applied for an Executive Officer position in the Civil Service after leaving school and selected what was then HM Customs & Excise as the department I wanted to join. VAT was a relatively new tax and I thought it sounded interesting. I duly did that starting as a Trainee VAT Inspector in Southall VAT Office in 1986.
- What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Indirect Tax industry right now?
There are various challenges facing our industry at the moment. The two main ones for me are globalisation and the need to be aware of indirect tax rules and developments globally as many of the laws have extra-terrestrial application and compliance. Getting certainty that VAT and duty is being calculated and reported correctly in every jurisdiction a business operates in is a massive challenge for businesses – and for advisers to have the necessary skills in ERP, improving data quality and global processes.
- What advice would you give to young professionals – especially women – starting out on their Indirect Tax careers?
Find – and make use of – a good mentor. That doesn’t have to be another woman but someone you trust in your organisation who can help champion you at the top table and who can offer advice on projects to undertake to raise your profile.
- What barriers have you had to overcome during your career to date?
I have been lucky enough not to encounter many barriers. Like most people, my biggest barrier is time and not having enough of it! That was especially challenging when my children were small but fortunately I have a supportive (and long suffering!) husband.
- Have there been times when you considered changing career tack?
I did consider – briefly – moving into corporation tax when I worked in industry in order to progress. Instead I decided to continue in indirect tax but in the profession which gave me a clearer career path.
- And if yes – what made you stay?
It’s always been variety that has kept me interested. I never know what the day will bring – a business scenario that brings indirect tax challenges, staff issues or both – usually at the same time!
- What has been your ‘career-defining’ moment?
My career defining moment was moving from BP – where I was very happy and had a great role but little chance to progress upwards without moving tax disciplines – to Arthur Andersen. It gave me far more variety of clients to work on and people to work with.
- What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I first wanted to be a cleaner when I was about 5 but then changed to being a hairdresser – it seemed a good career to talk and meet lots of people but I was persuaded by my Dad and careers teacher at school to think of law. So I guess lawyer would have been my aspiration in my teens.
- What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be more confident of your own ability and what you can add.
- What are your honest thoughts on social media?
Social media is great – if used with care! With two teenage children I quickly had to get used to Snapchatting them and learning how to stalk them on Instagram. I don’t use it for much else to be honest.
- If you won a big award, who would you thank?
My husband and my team.
- What’s the best thing anyone has ever done for you?
Not sure it was the best thing but it was certainly good fun – organising a surprise 40th Birthday party for me at what should have been a staff function.
- What’s the one word you’d want people to describe you with?
- Books or kindle?
- If you could have a Skype chat with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
- What is your best time saving tip?
Run between meetings!
- What has been the best part of your day today?
Reviewing a business case for a partner promotion.
- Favorite holiday destination?
- Tell me one thing that people might not know about you……