Vishal has over 17 years’ experience advising both large corporate and private mid-market clients in the UK and overseas, across a range of sectors. He began his career at PwC before joining Grant Thornton in 2012, where he has been a Partner since 2015.
1. What does a typical day look like for you?
My week is hugely varied with a mix of spending time with clients, my teams, and with key contacts throughout Scotland. I also lead the International Tax service offering for Grant Thornton in the UK, so tend to have calls with clients and colleagues based overseas. The variety in my role is one of the things I particularly enjoy. I tend to travel quite a bit and so when I’m based in Glasgow I’ll aim to do the morning school run wherever possible.
2. What does Grant Thornton do well?
Grant Thornton has the breadth of service offering that larger firms have, both here in the UK and globally, but in my view, this is delivered in a very different way.
Our senior team members spend a lot of time with clients and contacts, and our clients often tell us we are great to work with. As a firm we take pride in our culture and how we treat people which makes it a great place to work.
3. What defining career moments have there been for you so far and what career advice would you give yourself when you were younger if you could?
I always remember an early stage in my career when I was deciding to move from Audit into Tax. I asked the Tax Partner at the time for a 3-month secondment which he wouldn’t accommodate, it was all or nothing. That really made me stop and think about what I was interested in and what I wanted to do with my career. I clearly opted for the permanent role in Tax and the rest is history.
One thing I would like to have tried years ago is an international secondment as a way of gaining broader experience. As it happens, I’ve managed to gain that experience in different ways as my career has developed over the years.
4. You have held several leadership positions – what does it take to be a successful leader?
There are many different kinds of successful leaders but I think the thing that is common to them all is authenticity. I have also personally found that success comes from surrounding yourself with great people who can provide support and constructive challenge. I’ve learned over the years that being a successful leader involves having a balance between how you spend time and interact with your people, your clients, and in your life outside of work. I’m still working on this!
5. How has the role of tax advisor changed over the last few years in your opinion?
These days the technical aspects to the role need are a given and clients rightfully expect that as the minimum from their advisors. I think the thing that makes someone exceptional is adopting a commercial approach which is a skill that often needs to be developed over time.
Looking forwards we can expect to see major changes in the role of tax advisors as automation becomes used increasingly. This will result in a different skill set being needed to continue to bring value to clients, and businesses need to start thinking now about how to plan for that future state.
6. For those who might be interested in joining Grant Thornton’s Tax team – what kind of person do you look for?
I really value working with people that are collaborative and support their team members.
I’m a strong believer in diversity which to my mind covers a range of things including, for example, diversity of thought. So there isn’t really a template for the type of person I’d look for, as having a diverse workforce is proving to be very powerful.
7. How would your colleagues describe you?
Busy! I am very driven in what I do and I think this manifests itself in a lot of energy and enthusiasm which my colleagues will see. I am, however, mindful of the need to spend time with people regularly and so I’d hope people would describe me as approachable and supportive too
8. If you could invite two people to a dinner party (living or deceased) who you choose and why?
I think Barack Obama would be a fascinating dinner guest, and I’d also like to invite Peter Kay who I think is hilarious.
9. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This is an easy one – fried chicken!
10. If you weren’t in Tax, what would you be doing (for a career)?
Years ago I would say I’d love to be a professional golfer, but I’ve now realised I’m rubbish at golf so my career would, unfortunately, be short-lived