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14 September 2021
by Sarah Rogers

“I wanted something different”: Gemma’s transition from teacher to tax at ForrestBrown

Gemma Brown

There are lots of ForrestBrowners whose first job wasn’t in the world of R&D tax credits and some that lived entirely separate careers altogether. It takes a lot to pivot a career and apply those skills in a new way, and those that pull it off tend to share our ForrestBrown values. They’re passionate, determined, and willing to share their experiences to shape our success.

We’ve spoken to ForrestBrowner, Gemma Brown CTA, who shares her advice here. Gemma started her career as a primary school teacher and became a chartered tax adviser in just over four years after completing the tax associate programme at ForrestBrown.

The first step is to realise you want something different, and that you’re going to do something about it.

Gemma Brown CTA, Tax Manager

Taking the leap

Gemma continues, “I had a lot of ideas, and I did a lot of research, but one thing was certain – I wanted something different”.

“I had never set foot in an accounting practice or tax firm before, and it wasn’t what I expected. ForrestBrown definitely has a unique feel about it. It felt very relaxed walking in, people were in casual clothes, everyone was friendly and talkative. The interview at ForrestBrown highlighted to me how many transferable skills teaching has afforded me”. 

The first thing people notice about ForrestBrown tends to be our culture. From marketeers to tax professionals, we all bring different skills. But what we do share is our desire to deliver outstanding results for our clients and have fun along the way.

“One thing I loved about teaching was the ability to make an impact, and that remains the same at ForrestBrown. Working with clients I can see first-hand the benefit of R&D tax credits on their businesses. It feels good to be giving something back in a different way”.

Never stop learning

In the small amount of spare time she had as a teacher, Gemma studied for the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification. This helped her to land an interview with us at ForrestBrown and she’s never looked back since.

“Investing in your learning will show that you are committed to making a move and will also give you a flavour of the types of roles that are out there. It will make that learning curve a bit softer when you make the leap”.

“You also just feel really well looked after on the programme. Whilst a level 7 qualification may seem daunting, I joined as part of a cohort which made it a lot easier. We were given time off to study in the working week as well as a dedicated mentor to support us from the start. This helped me to balance work and study, and a busy social calendar too”.

Developed by our technical director and passionate R&D tax relief advocate, Jenny Tragner CA ATT, the Learning Lab, has been specifically designed to help people from all career backgrounds develop the skills they need to succeed at ForrestBrown. Unlike other firms, where you may have to do a bit of everything, here you will build up specialised expertise in R&D tax relief – all while working with a huge variety of exciting and innovative businesses from across the UK.

If I could give one piece of advice it would be to never stop learning. Having never worked in tax before, I’ve had to learn a lot quickly, but thanks to the Learning Lab and all the support given to me, that hasn’t been a problem.

Gemma Brown CTA, Tax Manager

The sky’s the limit

We have fantastic opportunities at ForrestBrown. Whether you’re new to R&D tax credits, or an expert, our perfect match is someone who will thrive in a collaborative, fast-paced environment where there is a real appetite for learning and focus on technical excellence. Just like Gemma who joined ForrestBrown in 2017 as a tax associate and brought with her her passion for learning.

On our tax associate programme Gemma was supported with specialist tax training via our Learning Lab, practical leadership training via our Learning to Lead programme, and supported through her professional tax exams. Gemma is a shining example of the progression opportunities available to the team at ForrestBrown. With ForrestBrown’s support, Gemma is now a chartered tax adviser, the gold standard in tax. And has progressed from tax associate to tax manager and leads a team in our R&D tax practice.

“I’m very proud of what I have achieved with ForrestBrown’s support. I’m now a chartered tax adviser and lead my own team. This new chapter in my career has allowed me to showcase my planning and teaching skills with a new audience. My advice to anyone thinking of making a move, do it! You won’t look back”.

Are you looking for a new challenge?

We’re on the lookout for bright sparks to join our tax team. Whether you’re looking to change career or advance your existing tax knowledge, we’d love to get to know you. Apply for a role in our tax team today or drop our talent team a message to see if a role at ForrestBrown is right for you.