Melissa Christopher has been a Tax Partner at Fitzgerald & Law since 2006 and specialises in international expansions and structuring, transfer pricing and tax efficient share schemes. Melissa has a wide range of experience from working in the US, to secondments to a large UK telecoms company and the Department for International Trade, to working at PwC. Melissa speaks to Laura Thompson, Consultant at Pro-Tax, about working at F&L and shares interview tips and the secrets to good leadership.
What three traits define you?
Optimism, respectfulness, kindness
What pet peeve do you have when interviewing?
Someone not being truthful. Recruiting the right person is a two-way success. If someone isn’t honest about their requirements, their experience or their priorities, how can either side work out if it’s the right role for the right person?
How do you define success?
Happy client, happy team. Obviously, it’s an ever-moving target and no-one gets it right all time, but I feel good when clients say nice things about the team, they want to work with us again and when we’re only recruiting because we’ve got to expand the workforce.
What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
At my age, I’d be a retired international sports star (there’s that optimism!), but if I was starting out again, I’m not sure I’d do anything differently. I enjoy matching people to the right role – any chance of a role in recruitment?!
What is your personal philosophy?
I don’t knowingly have one, but I hope I treat others as I’d like to be treated. Can I steal a line from Cinderella? Have courage and be kind.
What advice would you give to someone in day 1 of their new job?
Listen, think, and ask questions. Every day. Preferably not the same questions every day.
What’s your favourite thing about your Firm?
The people are what defines us. Everyone works hard and does their best for our clients, so it genuinely feels as though we’re all pulling in the same direction. I love the fact that there’s no need to play the internal political games that you sometimes get in larger organisations.
What are the secrets to good leadership?
We all want to be an inspiration to those around us, but you’ve also got to earn their respect, make sound (and sometimes difficult) decisions, communicate effectively, teach and delegate at the right times and do all of that with humility and a sense of humour. That’s quite daunting when you see it all listed.
What makes your Firm unique?
There aren’t many firms that really specialise in what we do (inward investment) and I’m confident that by doing it well, we’re teaching skills and providing opportunities rarely found anywhere else. You will struggle to find another company where you know everyone else by name, gain support for valuable qualifications and have the chance to have a secondment to San Francisco, meeting and advising the next generation of fast growth tech companies.
Who do you admire most in your industry?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some fabulous people including those at F&L, but I think anyone who keeps their clients, team and family all content deserves admiration.