#ScotsCareersWeek - Meet Charlotte Walker, Tax Manager at Alvarez & Marsal
Hi, my name is Charlotte Walker and I am a Manager in the Tax Department of an international consulting firm called Alvarez & Marsal – that might be a lot of words but I am proud to work in the Scottish financial services industry and I am also a new member of the Scottish Financial Enterprise Young Professionals Committee.
- What was your favourite subject at school and why?
So, what was my favourite subject at school and why?
My favourite subject at school was biology – I loved all of the sciences and at one point I was studying all three.
I’m not particularly sure why I preferred biology but I found it so interesting and I loved learning about cells, genetics and the human body. Doing experiments was really cool too.
- What career did you imagine yourself doing when you were a teenager?
When I was a teenager, only a wee while ago, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do for a career, but because I loved biology so much I thought I wanted to be a scientist, a biologist or something to do with genetics.
In fourth year of high school I was able to do some work experience at Yorkhill Children’s Hospital in Glasgow in the genetics department but I was also lucky enough to do a second week of work experience with my Dad who worked for a big international company at the time…and it actually completely changed my mind about what I wanted to do.
- How did you get into financial services? (you can adapt to whatever area of finance you work in if that helps)
So how did I end up in financial services?
Well, after working at my Dad’s company for a week, I had completely changed my mind and actually no longer wanted to pursue a career in science. I loved the excitement of the big firm, the working environment and the chance to follow in my Dad’s footsteps which I realised was quite inspiring for me. The graduate program in the accounting department also sounded really interesting to me – you had the opportunity to do placements in different areas of the business every 3-6 months so that you could experience and learn all about the different departments which sounded really interesting.
I decided to therefore do a degree in Accountancy and Business Law at University and from there, go on to complete my professional accounting exams to become a Chartered Accountant.
- How has your career developed since working in financial services?
I started my career straight after University in the tax department of one of the Big 4 professional services firms in Edinburgh. I completed a three year graduate program at the firm and I absolutely loved it – I met some fantastic people and also some of my best friends while working there.
In 2019, just as I completed the graduate program, I successfully applied for a secondment (which is the name for a temporary position for a different job within the same company) to the international tax desk in New York City. I spent two months working in Times Square and it was one of the best experiences of my whole life.
After moving back home to Glasgow after my secondment, I was approached with the opportunity to join an international consulting firm who wanted to open a new office in Glasgow. Having the opportunity to essentially start our own business in Scotland with the backing of an international firm behind us just seemed like a very unique opportunity that I didn’t want to miss. And now, I’ve been with Alvarez & Marsal for almost two years and I absolutely love my new role.
- Tell us about your role now/what it entails and what you enjoy about it?
So, what does a Manager in the tax department actually do?
Honestly, every day is different and challenging. I work in a very fast paced environment so I am constantly working with different clients, different team members and working towards deadlines. Although tax might sound boring, I would disagree! Tax has taken me around the world – I have clients in the US, London, the Highlands, Europe, even the Middle East and working at an international firm means I have the opportunity to work with colleagues from all corners of the world (and hopefully now that we are able to travel again I will have the chance to meet some of those colleagues abroad).
I was also very fortunate to be promoted to my current role over a year ago which was very rewarding and motivational for me. In bigger firms, there is always the opportunity to progress in your career and that keeps me very motivated.
- What would you tell your school aged self now looking back?
If I could go back and give my teenage self some advice, it would be - work hard and don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, go out and find them if you can!
If you have a set career in mind – that’s fantastic – but if not that’s OK too! Try to do some research, go to careers fairs, speak to some adults that you know – keep an open mind and try to find what you think would be best for you.
Finally, if something doesn’t work out the way you have planned, don’t be too hard on yourself. There are so many fantastic opportunities out there for young people in Scotland, you just need to be positive and go find them.