Every month Katy Gordon speaks to Courier Country business people to learn what makes them tick. This month, she met Susie Simpson and Kimberley Thomson of PwC at The Playwright in Dundee.
PwC is an international company that has some of the world’s biggest businesses as clients but also a really significant part of the business focussed solely on privately owned businesses and the entrepreneurs/individuals behind them.
It was interesting, therefore, to learn that not only do they have a strong interest in Courier Country, but that one of the women I met from the company is herself a Dundee girl. Over a gorgeous lunch at The Playwright I learned all about the work of one of the world’s largest professional services firms.
Tax senior manager Kimberley Thomson may still have a touch of an American accent (a military baby, her father’s work took her to different parts of Scotland and the US) but she was born in Dunoon, studied at the University of Dundee and married a Dundee man, giving her a real connection to Courier Country.
Susie Simpson’s connection to the city is more focused on its potential and the many businesses with links with Dundee. She is a private business tax partner and her work puts her in regular contact with the heads of companies large and small across Scotland.
“We work with a number of businesses in Dundee, but we are also looking to identify different business opportunities,” Susie said.
“In the past nine months we have been going out and meeting people in different sectors to find the niche products and get a feel for what is in the city,” Kimberley explained.
As our food was served (smoked haddock pithivier for Susie, vegetable pastilla for me and a sirloin for Kimberley) Susie added: “We have a good relationship with the University of Dundee but what we are trying to do is work with the businesses that have come out of the university and the industries there, as well as other sectors.
“University spin-outs and business start-ups is an area where we can make an investment and offer the benefit of our broader experience so one where we are really keen to get more involved and we can really help them to take the next steps.”
But although for many people accounting and tax work may seem boring, for both Kimberley and Susie they say that it is something that keeps them engaged.
“I enjoy meeting people and hearing the stories about their businesses – and in fact the family-run businesses can be very enjoyable,” Susie said. “I also get the chance to see the progression of the business and work with clients throughout the life cycle.”
Kimberley said: “Because I do international work, there are changes to legislation every year and I have to keep up to date with what is happening in different countries.”
Susie travels from Aberdeen down to the Central Belt and from the west coast to the east coast, meeting people and working with them to help their business. And although her focus is on the oil industry, which takes her to the US several times a year, Kimberley has also been working with Susie and her team more locally.
As we enjoyed tea, coffee and pudding (I opted for the cheese board, which had a great mix without being too much; and Kimberley had the chocolate peanut butter brownie, which she assured us was beautiful), I asked about how they got into the work they now do.
“I sort of fell into it,” Kimberley admitted. “My degree is in chemistry and I got my LLM in petroleum taxation and finance. I had planned to work offshore until I realised I would have to do the safety training!
“So I decided to look for something on-shore and PwC had spoken at the uni and posted a job notice and I got the job.
“I liked the idea of tax because it was interesting and changes.”
Susie too, hadn’t planned a life in commercial services.
“I was a lawyer and I was working for firms where I was doing tax and there were family business interests and I was fed up of being wheeled out to give tax advice at the end of a deal and told to go away again so I moved to PwC where I get to be front-facing and build and sustain the relationships on a long term basis.”
But both agree that the work is interesting, fulfilling and varied.
I can honestly say, that my lunch with Susie and Kimberley was the most enjoyable conversation about tax I’ve ever had!