Sita Shah (BSc Accounting and Finance)
Organisation: Sony UK
Placement Student Name: Sita Shah
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 Sita Shah, intern student 2014
“My internship at Sony surpassed all of my expectations and I couldn’t have asked for a better work experience over the summer”.
What made you apply for the opportunity?
Initially, I was attracted to the idea of working for a highly reputable global company. Also, the internship with Sony was only available for UoB students. Studying a Taxation module in second year gave me a broad insight into the area of Tax and this internship was a perfect opportunity for me to develop my knowledge in the area of Tax.
What were your preconceptions before starting the placement?
I didn’t really know what to expect other than the fact that I would be dealing with a lot of numerical figures and financial statements. I had no idea that Corporate Tax was more than just numbers and it was really interesting to see how much the tax issues can impact key business decisions.
What skills did you hope to develop during the placement?
At the start of my internship I had set myself a few objectives such as increasing my commercial awareness, developing networking skills, developing communication skills–both verbal and written–and developing my skills on software such as Excel. During my internship I was given the opportunity to draft emails and this helped me improve my written communication. Additionally, I used Microsoft Excel regularly and this will definitely help me in my final year of studies and in future jobs.
What were your first impressions?
Before arriving at the office I was quite nervous. However, on my first day I was introduced to the entire team at the Tax Office and was given a formal induction too. Everyone was very friendly, welcoming and approachable which meant I was able to ask many questions. The directors in charge of the various divisions within Sony each gave an overview of their respective division, which helped me gain a better understanding of Sony’s operating structure and the roles and responsibilities of the Tax Office.
The size of the team was large enough for me to gain an exposure to different colleagues with different academic backgrounds and experiences but it was also small enough to allow me to build relationships with colleagues on an individual basis.
What were your main your duties?
One of my main tasks throughout my internship was learning the basic UK tax compliance rules and preparing UK corporate tax returns and provisions. I was trained to use AlphaTax software to help with this. Whilst preparing the tax provisions I would often have to query numerical amounts within the financial statements provided by the business which appeared to be significantly different from previous years’ figures. This required me to pay close attention to detail. I then had to approach the business with a list of various queries which when answered, would allow me to take the appropriate action.
There were many opportunities to attend presentations presented by advisory firms such as Grant Thornton, Deloitte etc. regarding Tax Credit Reliefs and this increased my commercial awareness and knowledge in the area of corporate tax; for example regarding incentives the government have in place for large organisations.
I was also involved in technical research projects where I had to find the relevant legislation from the HMRC website and interpret and apply this in preparing the tax returns.
“From my very first day I was given tasks which allowed me to add value to the firm”.
Looking back, how do you feel your internship went?
My internship with Sony was an invaluable experience. I didn’t expect to develop such close relationships with my team and I had no idea that I would be given real responsibility so early on. Although the internship was focussed on Corporate Tax (direct tax) I was given many opportunities to learn about VAT (indirect tax) which is something I had not anticipated. This was really informative as I was able to see the opposite side of tax and I was able to learn how direct tax and indirect tax differ from each other.
By the end of my internship, I had gained a real insight into the broad nature of a role in corporate tax. Corporate tax isn’t just about ‘number-crunching’, it requires you to understand the nature of the businesses you are dealing with and gives you an exposure to UK and International issues affecting the business. I felt confident working within a team and also when working independently.
I now feel a lot more comfortable when working in a corporate environment and the knowledge I have gained and the experience has encouraged me to pursue a career within a similar field after graduation.
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 anyone who has an interest in tax, or anyone who would like to be introduced to the concept of tax to apply. The internship gives you a real insight into corporate tax and allows you to develop your analytical and business skills.
For anyone undertaking a placement I would encourage you to make the most of your time at the firm. The three month internship at Sony went incredibly fast and it was amazing to see how I developed as a person in such a short space of time. Asking many questions was one of the main ways in which I was able to increase my business understanding and this is something I’d stress heavily- ask plenty of questions!
Another tip I would give is to make the most of any opportunities that come your way during your internship. At Sony, I was given the chance to attend an IFA conference which discussed the tax reliefs available to large entities. I was also able to take part in corporate volunteering at the Tower of London which was a great way to bond with my team outside of the office.
I thoroughly enjoyed working at Sony over summer as it gave me a chance to gain practical experience and allowed me to develop technical tax and accounting skills. My internship at Sony surpassed all of my expectations and I couldn’t have asked for a better work experience over summer. I was deeply involved in many projects and was constantly adding value to the firm.
How do you feel now about work experience?
Working at Sony has been an invaluable experience and I have developed so many skills which will definitely help me in the future. I feel a lot more confident and comfortable working in a new environment and dealing with different people on a daily basis. Working at Sony GTO has helped me significantly improve the way in which I prioritise work and this will help me in both my studies and in any future job/career.