Portrait of Simon Swanson
Emerging Talent

Simon Swanson

Assistant Manager for Tax and VAT

Finance, UK

Simon is a strong advocate for keeping an open mind about all professions. Having intended to go into engineering he found himself working in finance before specialising in tax and VAT, which he has found to be a world away from what he could ever have imagined.

How did you get into what you do?

My father works in finance and encouraged me to take a training contract in the same field. I started working at a company and during the year that I was there I learnt a lot. There weren’t any opportunities to progress though, so I started looking elsewhere and that’s when I came across Mace.

I initially started on a three-month temporary contract in the finance department. I started off processing invoices and gradually got involved in tax. I’ve now been at Mace for five years and in that time I’ve become Association of Accounting Technician (AAT) qualified and I’m currently studying for my Chartered Tax Advisor (CTA) qualification.

What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?

Working in tax and VAT means that I get involved in a wide variety of construction projects, often visiting the sites and delving into the detail of what is being built. Mixed-use developments are the most complex, and most interesting, especially when it comes to VAT. Because mixed-use can include homes, leisure facilities and retail, for example, the VAT rules can really vary across different elements of the entire build.

What skills do you need to be good at your job?
You need to be interactive as you spend a lot of time giving advice. And you need to have the skills to interpret, understand and communicate legislation. Most people think tax is all about numbers but it’s actually more about legal compliance. I go to a lot of seminars and read a lot of books to keep up with legislative developments.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?

Be open to all opportunities. I hadn’t considered tax when I was at school and if I had I would have thought it would involve sitting at a desk all day, looking at spreadsheets – which isn’t me at all. Don’t assume something until you’ve tried it.

Portrait of Simon Swanson
What do you hope you will be doing in the next 5-10 years?
Mace is a growing company so I’ll be staying. I’d like to work towards becoming an operations director. I’ve seen how people in my team have reached different levels and it’s inspiring. The support to progress at Mace is really good.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Rugby. I’m a huge fan and play a fair bit. I tend to play Sevens now as it’s a faster game than Fifteens.
If you hadn’t got into this line of work what do you think you might be doing?
I probably would have gone to university and become an automotive engineer. I have no regrets though. I feel like I’ve landed on my feet and can’t imagine doing anything else now.

“Working in tax and VAT means that I get involved in a wide variety of construction projects, often visiting the sites and delving into the detail of what is being built.”