What was your first ever job?
My first ever job [laughs]—it wasn’t really a job—it was a summer job. It had nothing to do with tax. It was just something when I was still in high school: it was in a beer garden on a terrace and I was cleaning the tables and things like that. So that was really, I guess, my very first job where I earned some money. That was followed by a number of different jobs as a student… but when I was a [university] student I already started working in tax. I had a job where I went twice a week and assisted people with tax compliance and tax return preparation.
Would you be willing to work in the beer garden again—for one day?
Oh, yeah, for one day wouldn’t be a problem. I mean, it’s honest work. And it was fun at the time. If someone asked me, “Oh, can you help for one day? We need people”—and it was a friend of mine—I’d say, “Yeah, no problem at all.”
Did you get along with your boss—in the beer garden and beyond?
Yes, I’d say so. Irrespective of where I worked. With the Big Four, I worked in different countries and different offices—always with the same Big Four firm—and I always got along with my bosses. One of my former bosses from Berlin is even a friend of mine now, so they always were good. They pushed me where it was needed, and they provided support, and I can’t really complain.
Do you remember getting your first paycheque? Did you treat yourself to anything?
That’s a good question [laughs]. No, I don’t remember! I mean, not the summer job, but maybe [with my first real salary] I bought something nice to wear, some clothes or something like that. But I’m not 100 percent sure anymore. It’s so long ago!
Would your early-days colleagues be surprised to hear that you now run your own tax consultancy?
Yeah, maybe. Because once I started to be interested in doing tax work, I always said I never wanted to be independent. I didn’t want my own company. And so it would probably surprise some people that, at some point, I made the decision to establish my own business.
But you did decide to go independent—what changed?
I think it was a question of getting a life/work balance and being your own boss—to decide what you do and how you do it. That was one of the main drivers.
I’m impressed with the continuity of your career, starting early on with individual tax.
I really love what I’m doing. That’s why I’m still at this job. I mean, I’ve been in business more or less 30 years now, [including] my student experiences as well. What I’ve always loved about this job is the contact with people, because I’m really focused on individual tax, I’m really working with people, and I’ve met so many people over the years. And this also makes it interesting because they come from different countries and cultures.
Thanks for your time and for speaking to us.