This week on The Tax Expat we have Kinga Zawora, who is from Poland and is currently working in the Big 4 in Zurich. Rather than our typical interview, we’re going with a slightly different format with this week’s and Kinga has kindly written a blog post about the decisions and experiences that underlie her move from Poland to London to Poland to Zurich.
It’s another exciting journey of a tax expat! Enjoy.
Before I introduce myself, I thought it would be nice to start with a few of sentences that describe my professional life - consulting environment, where currently the only certain thing is ‘uncertainty’. And where in some economies, strategic management causes 21st century diseases such as trained incapacity, whilst in others, operations management is praised even for one-off projects.
"We all think we’re tops. We’re exuberantly, wildly irrational about oneselves. And that has sweeping implications for organizing. Yet most organizations, we find, take a negative view of their people. They verbally berate participants for poor performance. They call for risk taking but punish even tiny failures. They want innovation but kill the spirit of the champion. With their rationalist hats on, they design systems that seem to calculate to tear down their workers’ self-image. They might not mean to be doing that, but they are.”
(Peters and Waterman, 2006)
My name is Kinga and I am from Poland. Four years ago, being quite naïve, I thought that in order to be successful I would need to:
More or less true, however what turns to be the path to success for some, fails in other cases. Shortly after graduating with a distinction from Nottingham Trent, I started looking - hopelessly - for a job as a Consultant in the area of Indirect Taxation in London. With little luck, I shortly after went back to Poland, where I found a job in one of the biggest tax outsourcing centers in Europe (that provides services to Big 4 entities).
Having had some previous VAT compliance experience, I got the position of the Dutch VAT Supervisor. To be honest, the most interesting part of this was not the process work itself, but the long awaited possibility to be part of international environment, grow professionally, and face new experiences. After all, indirect tax is a very globally mobile career path.
As some say, once a lifetime you can get a chance to change your life completely, and you can either take it as it is or it will never happen again. So I took my opportunity and, several months later, I was living in Zurich.
Continuing my career in Indirect Tax within the Big 4 - but now in Zurich - I have been fortunate again to be working with the most intelligent and experienced team of international tax professionals. I quickly found that this was a role where I can raise my voice and come up with new ideas.
Even though I am only 27 and haven’t yet had a full career worth of experiences, I’ve been quite lucky to not only make great friendships but build relationships with those who are now the best people in my life, who put their trust in me and I can put my trust into them. This has been a key part of my expat experience.
So how have I found life as a tax expat in Switzerland in particular? Not only do I love Swiss nature and the beauty of its landscape, the Swiss mentality has taught me not only the importance of precision, but also new perspectives of “never settling” or that “no task is beneath me”. Once one adopts these views, unlimited possibilities will become apparent. As my mum says, “if they throw you away through the door, jump in through the window and prove what you can do”. And when I look back and wonder about what I’d do if my time again, I am 100% sure that I would act the same way. Sometimes I think it would be nicer if Switzerland would be by the sea, but I can deal with this! :-)
So after 1.5 year of living in Switzerland, I can say that this place has not not only given me professional opportunities, but also the chance to understand more about myself and make new friendships.
In my opinion, young and ambitious people nowadays have an endless world of professional possibilities. Nobody says it will be easy at the beginning to relocate to a new place but, as in my case, I didn’t know anybody in Zurich and now I have my whole life here. The question one needs to ask themselves is “do you really want such a change?” Nevertheless, no matter with what kind of tax you married, I wish everyone to take work as hobby and enjoy every moment!
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