Stuart Letasi (BSc Accounting and Finance)
Placement Student Name: Stuart Letasi
Placement Title: Corporate Tax Internship
Dates of Placement: Summer vacation 2014
Nature of the business
Sony is an exciting and innovative global company with a unique range of businesses operating in a variety of diverse marketplaces. From consumer and professional electronics to media and entertainment, Sony’s operations are at the heart of global popular culture.
Brief description of internship opportunity
Sony’s Global Tax Office is a “virtual” global organisation that defines and implements the group’s corporate tax strategy and provides tax compliance and risk management services to all Sony’s operating businesses.
The intern will assist with data analysis and preparation of corporate tax returns and UK statutory accounts as well as some technical research projects. The intern 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 Stuart Letasi, intern student 2014
“Being an intern at Sony was amazing – it allowed me to expand my professional network and also developed my commercial awareness which are attributes highly valued by graduate employers”.
What made you apply for the opportunity?
After studying a module in taxation and also hearing about tax issues in the news, I wanted to do a tax-related internship as it was a subject I wanted to learn more about. The fact that the opportunity was at Sony made the internship a lot more attractive, as it would give me the chance to work within a global entity operating in a range of industries.
What were your preconceptions before starting the placement?
Originally I had the preconception that I would be working solely with financial information and that the only people I would be interacting with would be my colleagues in the office. This was far from true, as I attended various meetings with partners and directors from some of the world’s leading professional services and law firms. This was something I thoroughly enjoyed as they were willing to answer any questions I had relating to their experiences within their career. I found this extremely useful as it gave me the knowledge to make an informed decision on the type of career I would like to have in the future.
What skills did you hope to develop during the placement?
One of the key skills I wanted to develop during my placement was the ability to organise and manage my time effectively. This skill was tested during the placement as I was frequently working on multiple projects at the same time. By observing how my colleagues managed their responsibilities and also understanding my team’s main priorities for the week, I was able to organise my workload in a way that allowed me to deliver the desired results in the specified time frame.
What were your first impressions?
I was very surprised at the level of responsibility I was given and the scope of the work provided. As the internship was at the global tax office for the whole of Europe, it meant that I was communicating with people from a range of countries across Europe on a regular basis. In some scenarios, I was their first point of contact and they looked to me to resolve their queries. Having this responsibility was very rewarding, as I knew that my contribution had an impact on the success of important projects.
What were your main your duties?
Mainly, I undertook compliance work for companies in the Sony group. In order to compute the tax liability for each company, I had to review the financial information provided and contact the relevant people if I had any queries regarding particular figures or transactions. I was also taught to use AlphaTax, which is the software the whole team used to compute a company’s tax liability. In order to give the interns time out of the office as well, I was invited to attend numerous meetings relating to different projects that were being initiated which gave me an insight into the tax planning process. This was something I really enjoyed as I would be sitting in a meeting with directors and partners which gave me an insight into their roles and responsibilities.
“My internship at Sony has given me something to talk about in interviews – employers are always impressed when they hear about the amount of responsibility I had and the contribution I made in certain projects”.
Looking back, how do you feel your internship went?
At the beginning of the placement I was quite nervous as I didn’t know what to expect from the role. I started off doing some of the simpler parts of the compliance work, which helped to build my confidence and give me a good grounding for the work ahead. I was given a lot more responsibility as time went by and my skills improved. At the end of the placement, I was able to complete a tax return for a company with minimal assistance, depending on the complexity of the company transactions. I was trained to use the appropriate software and was also encouraged to ask questions whenever I had any. The fact that everyone in the office was very supportive and willing to help was definitely something that made the placement a great learning experience and enjoyable at the same time.
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 placement)?
I would encourage people seeking similar opportunities to make sure that they have a good understanding of the way in which the company they are applying to operates. Having that commercial awareness makes the role a lot more exciting as you can see how your contribution fits into the bigger picture. What also helped me through the application process was speaking to previous Sony interns and finding out how they found their work experience there. It gave me a better understanding of the role ahead and it allowed me to have something to talk about in the interview.
“The support I received from my colleagues at Sony and from Careers Network has given me a clear direction of what type of career I want when I graduate”.