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How Did I Get Here? Nigel Powell, Digita

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12th Apr 2005
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Continuing ourHow Did I Get Here? series, Nigel Powell describes his career from starting out as a tax officer at the Inland Revenue to becoming Business Development Manager at Digita.

Current job title

Business Development Manager

Describe your initial training within the profession

I started within the Inland Revenue as a tax officer in 1967 found that the role was not stretching enough and left to join the profession in 1969 as a tax junior. Training was on the job and also following tax correspondence courses. Since then it has been the school of life but mainly ongoing reading of all things related to our industry and the profession.

What positions have you held?

Tax Officer in the Inland Revenue
Tax junior in professional Accountant's offices
Tax senior
Tax Manager in the profession
Tax software trainer and installer
Tax software analyst
Software salesman
Marketing manager
Product Manager
And now Business Development Manager

What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering the profession?

Always remember that practicality bears equal weight to expertise. For while it is of course important to know your subject well, remaining aware of the commercial issues in any business will help you grow your career. There is no point being the most highly qualified individual if your efforts do not generate revenue!

Is there a significant event you can tell us about which had an impact on your career?

The realization in 1983 that tax which is intrinsically illogical nevertheless has logical rules. Hence it was possible even in those long gone days to consider making tax compliance more efficient through the use of computerization. This occurred when I had written my first minor program on a hand held computer to help check pre-self assessment tax calculations and wondered why everyone else was asking me to check their calculations as well!

What is your overall view of the finance industry and the people in it ?

I am more able to comment upon the practicing Accounting professionals than the finance industry as a whole. Accountants in practice probably fall into two main groups the go-getters and the followers. The go-getters will always use force of personality to make a software project a success.
The followers will invariably expect that software of itself can change the paradigms for them ' and of course it can't alone and yes, they usually do end up blaming the suppliers!

Who most inspired you to get where you are today?

A tax manager called John Heritage in a long since disappeared Surrey practice. He was a hard task master but taught me the essential lesson of first time right saves time and increases profit. (I suppose I also admire the David Brent character played by Ricky Gervais, in the BBC's 'The Office' who I believe said 'If at first you don't succeed, cover up all signs that you ever tried!' and 'Eagles may soar but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines')

People like John Whiting who, with his unique personal style, has managed to succinctly explain the most complex tax subjects to the public via published articles and radio and TV broadcasts throughout his career. While I have analyzed many a complex subject for software programmers, such explanations I fear could never have worked with the public.

I have also been inspired by many of the financial gurus such as Tom Peters who urge us to work 'on the business and not in the business' ' for while all their ideas are right in principle you need to make your own interpretation and find a way of adapting the strong messages to suit your own style and personality.

What has been your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement has been leading a successful tax software team that grew annual income from several thousands per annum in early 1985 to several millions by 2005. But as I have now moved to Digita and my role has changed to Business Development Manager the story is not yet ended'''..

Previous career profiles
All the previous career profiles can also be seen in the special How Did I Get Here? page.

Have you got any useful insights or cautionary tales that could provide useful pointers to aspiring accountants? If you would like to contribute to the 'How Did I Get Here' feature please email our employment correspondent: Dawn-Marie Dart

Career resources
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