Charlotte Ruffles (BSc Accounting & Finance, 2nd year)
Organisation: Sony (Global Tax Office)
Contact name: Sarah Fahy, Vice President – Global Tax Office Europe
Intern student name: Charlotte Ruffles, BSc Accounting & Finance
Dates of internship: Summer vacation, 2013
Nature of the business
Sony is one of the world’s leading consumer products companies, with global businesses operating in the fields of consumer electronics, console and online gaming, music, films and television.
Sony Global Tax Office is an international organisation with offices in the US, UK, Singapore, Japan, Brazil and Sweden. We partner closely with business management to support commercial transactions and decision making. The team has a high profile within Sony and engages actively across the whole spectrum of business activities.
An internship with Sony Global Tax Office provides a motivated and commercially aware university student with the opportunity to gain practical experience and develop technical tax and accounting skills. You will work as part of a close-knit and highly professional group, in a dynamic environment within the framework of a much larger international team. The opportunity offers a real opportunity to learn and develop whilst making a valued contribution to our business.
Brief description of internship opportunity
This internship requires the successful candidate to assist with data analysis and preparation of corporate tax returns and UK statutory accounts as well as some technical research projects. The candidates will be working with professional staff as part of the UK team and will be exposed to a range of issues and businesses. The position provides an opportunity to understand how a large multinational group manages its accounting and tax compliance obligations and will give a unique insight into Sony’s operating businesses. Full training will be provided.
Interview with Charlotte Ruffles, intern student 2013
What made you apply for the opportunity?
Before applying to Sony, I had no experience working in corporate tax. My interest in tax developed throughout my time at University as I enjoyed the tax module and found current tax affairs interesting. This, together with the prospect of working for a multinational leader in the consumer and professional markets, provided the foundation that underpinned my desire to secure this position.
What are / were your first impressions?
I was placed in a small office of 15-20 people. Although this seems small, it gave me the opportunity to create relationships with each member; professional team work and bonding was essential. All of the employees I met were extremely welcoming and eager to answer any questions I had – and I had quite a few! Early-on in my internship I was introduced to directors and had some time to talk to them about their role and responsibilities within Sony, whilst also trying to get my head around Sony’s corporate structure! I believe that being a strong team player is vital in any professional environment – something I have become familiar and comfortable with due to my time at Sony.
Please provide an outline of your activities
Day-to-day, I accompanied colleagues to visit other offices, following-up queries and asking questions regarding the tax return in question. I dealt directly with clients, which has enhanced significantly both my confidence and clarity when working with new people. As well as this, I was working on compiling the tax return for various subsidiaries of Sony; Columbia Pictures, for example. This involved gathering together all the necessary documents and beginning to check the balance sheet, income statement and various invoices. After this, I could start inputting the information into the computer database, AlphaTax, which then created the final tax return. By the end of the internship I felt confident to do this alone; completing tax returns, meeting unfamiliar faces and asking the right questions in order to get the information I needed. This skill in particular I feel is extremely relevant in today’s society; asking the right questions and, in the current economic climate, the need to be confident and diligent in order to protect shareholders.
Please provide an overview of your progress as went through the internship (what you did, how the tasks went, what support you received, what the rest of the office team was like)
As time went on, I was given much more responsibility and accountability for the companies I was working on. This allowed me to communicate with clients and other offices personally, which enhanced my exposure to other offices and allowed me to use my initiative. I learnt quickly to trust my business instinct and now feel confident in my own ability when working alone or in a team. This has provided me with invaluable attributes which will help me indefinitely for the future – for example, the ability to think independently and act quickly on my own instinct.
By the end of my internship, I gained a strong commercial awareness into the world of corporate tax and into the workings of everyday business in general. I was thrown in at the deep end and have learnt to adapt and make the most of any situation. This helped me deal with situations with which I am unfamiliar, and I now feel comfortable working under pressure. This experience changed my perspective of the corporate world and has encouraged me to pursue a career in a similar field of work.
What would you encourage any of your peers seeking similar opportunities next year to consider (in terms of application and also what to do when undertaking a internship)?
Beginning the third year of my course, I was feeling pressure to secure a graduate job. However, my time at Sony, increased my confidence, commercial awareness, interview technique and professional team work skills significantly. My internship with Sony confirmed to me that this is the field of work I wanted to be in and I am pleased to say that I have secured a graduate job at Grant Thornton.
I am confident that the skills and experience I gained from Sony helped me immensely in preparation, not only for the application and interviews, but in building myself as a person. Sony exceeded my expectations – working in London for the first time was a daunting and challenging idea to begin with, yet the busy and exciting atmosphere soon proved me wrong. Perhaps the biggest changes I’ve noticed since leaving Sony are my improved self-assurance and self-confidence, which are invaluable when seeking to secure a graduate job.
I would encourage anyone who is eager to work for a globally recognised company and keen to get stuck-in to new experiences to apply.