Gillian McKay's recent appointment as Sayer Vincent's senior tax manager is a bit of homecoming. She started her career at Sayer Vincent back before Tony Blair first came to power, returned in 2008 and took her tax exams there in 2010 while workings as a senior audit manager.
After five years, McKay took a position at the ICAEW where she worked as the head of charities and voluntary sector, before going on to work as director of finance at Imperial College Healthcare Charity.
Now she’s back at Sayer Vincent for her third spell, McKay sees her role as more back-office than client-facing. The firm has so many tax clients that somebody has to keep an overview. “It's a bit like managing Heathrow: which plane is going to land next? I tend to work with the team rather than directly with the clients,” McKay told AccountingWEB.
Working across the firm's client portfolio, she will advise on all sorts of tax issues including gift aid, corporation tax compliance, employee taxation and VAT.
Gillian McKay's typical day
"Morning commute… I'm London-based so I've got a variety of ways to get into the office. I prefer getting the train because I come in from east London and you get a lovely view of Lea Valley. This makes you feel like you're not in London before suddenly you're reminded that you are. As a keen runner sometimes I run in.
I try to be a 9am-start person. First thing I do, like everyone else, is to open up my email and we've got our plan for the day but we've got to see if anything else has cropped up.
I'm a pen and paper to-do list person. I do put things in my Outlook but you have to keep juggling priorities. You have to keep your plates spinning while at the same time not letting anything new and not urgent to become so.
Part of my hours are fulfilled outside the office. Donkey's years ago I would have done things like my working documents in the kitchen or living room. But these days, I don’t work anywhere where I am going to relax. I work to very specific times and I have a very specific room. I think that really helps.
You have to be disciplined when working from home. If you can maintain your physical boundaries even within your own home it really helps you not to be flooded. Don't say 'I'll get it done' and then sit there chasing a coffee cup around the desk. Give yourself specific breaks and a specific time to get the work done, and if it is not done then stop.
I will keep anything routine for the afternoon. I read anything new and challenging in the Budget or legislation in the morning. In the afternoon, I do some detailed administration. It's not that I can't do anything tasking in the afternoon, but to get the engines going, I'd have an hour or two of something that needs a bit of attention but is not a great intellectual challenge. Then I can start afresh later in the afternoon.
Somedays I work longer days and somedays I work shorter days. Sometimes I finish at 4pm and sometimes at 6pm. If I need to leave at 4pm and then pick something up at 7pm at night and do an hour in my own time, then that's a lot easier and works better for me than having to get someone to cover for me so I can leave at 5pm."