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Centre for Commercial Law Studies

Maureen Agutu (2016)

Maureen studied the Tax Law LLM and now works as Indirect Tax Senior Manager in Ernst & Young law firm.

Maureen Agutu

What would you say contributed to you graduating with a distinction in LLM Tax Law from Queen Mary University?

My drive to succeed and my interest in Tax Law arising from work experience. When I arrived for my studies at Queen Mary University, I had to leave my 2.5-year-old son back home. I really had to make good this time apart as the separation was not easy. That was my chief motivation. Further, having worked for the Tax Authority for ten years, I had a keen interest in Tax Law.

Were there any academics that had a strong influence on shaping your time and studies at Queen Mary?

Dr. Bernard Schneider perhaps more than he realised. He made Tax Law appear simple and he was quite patient with me during my dissertation writing. He was a great supervisor. Prof. Joy Svasti was also good. Her teaching methods made it easy to relate to the subject owing to her extensive work experience in International Tax.

Could you give an insight into how your career has progressed from the completion of your LLM until now?

When I completed my LLM, I was already contemplating working in the private sector. I went back to my job with the Tax Authority, but I was having discussions with Ernst & Young, having made initial contact with them through Queen Mary University. Although that conversation did not result in an offer at the time, I took a leap into the private sector in July 2020 and joined PwC’s Indirect Tax Practice as a manager with a focus on Customs & International Trade. Less than a year later, I moved to Ernst & Young’s Indirect Tax Practice as a Senior Manager. The LLM has been instrumental in my career progression.

How would you say your course prepared you for your career and are there any skills you acquired during your LLM that you still apply in your work?

The Tax Law LLM gave me great knowledge that I still apply to date, especially in Transfer Pricing and Corporate Taxation. I also gained great networking and persuasion skills which have come in handy in business development; one of my key deliverables.

You have worked with two excellent firms in your field. What would you say contributed to your employability by these firms?

My years of experience, my LLM and my professional training in Customs were key in securing me a place in PwC and EY.

Can you give an idea of your work routine in your current role as Indirect Tax Senior Manager?

I still largely work from home. The first thing I check is my calendar to see what meetings I have for the day. Next, I check all mail that I have not read and respond appropriately or give the sender a date on which I will respond conclusively to their queries or needs. Then I prepare for all meetings on my calendar, including dealing with any action points, reading up on the areas of concern for a client and being ready to answer any queries raised during the meeting. Next, I handle any pending work, research and review drafts sent to me. Checking my mail is a regular task that I do as soon as I see the mail pop-up. Of course, I assess the urgency and importance from the pop up. I also schedule consultative meetings with colleagues to discuss work including other administrative duties that come with the role. That is my typical day.

Why do you think prospective students should study at CCLS?

It is a unique LLM specialisation. It grants you great insights into what Tax Law is, along with current happenings around the world and great career prospects. If you have the guts for it, dive right in.


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