How two Deloitte tax experts balance their working styles

Anthony Lau FCPA and Miranda Chan. Photo: Calvin Sit.

Anthony Lau FCPA and Miranda Chan acknowledge that the strength of their working relationship lies in balancing their different personalities, work styles and skill sets to arrive at shared goals.

Anthony Lau FCPA

Deloitte international tax partner and CPA Australia divisional president of Greater China

Miranda is a Deloitte “baby”. She joined Deloitte back in 2011.

She’s not a very loud or outgoing person, but you can tell that she has the ability to manage her portfolio well, with attention to detail, and deliver good-quality products.

We began our direct working relationship in 2015 when she became an acting manager, and she was promoted to manager in 2016.

Now that she’s a manager, she is doing a lot of handholding; she guides her team all the way and is very involved in the entire process. The good thing is that she’s on top of everything. She can make sure everything is on the right track and can deliver a product that is up to her expectations.

Yet, I’ve also told her that, as you grow more senior, you will not have enough time to do everything by yourself or to be very involved in all the engagements, because you will need to deal with many, many other matters. When you have more experience, you’ll know how to find your own people, delegate work to them upfront and then provide overall direction.

She’s not the type of person who engages in chitchat with other people if there’s no particular reason – asking how are things, how was your weekend, things like that.

In terms of areas for improvement, my advice would be for Miranda to get more involved in other business matters, outside of normal work routines. For example, I have shared with her my experience of being more involved in CPA Australia activities and events, so that when I look at things, it’s just not tax. I can also look at things from a much broader perspective.

I told Miranda when I was a junior manager I was very much like her, because I was just very focused on doing my job. I did not spend too much time mingling with other people. I was also a very detail-oriented person.

I need to rely on Miranda in terms of knowing what the next generation will think about a particular matter, because I am a little too far from the younger generation. When I try to implement or roll out some new policies, I need to seek feedback from her.

What would Anthony change about Miranda?

Work-life balance, because a lot of the time when I go out to lunch, I always see her still working. When I come back, she is often still working, and then she may only have afternoon tea at 3pm. I have told her before that it's not healthy.

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Miranda Chan

Senior manager of international tax, Deloitte

I first met Anthony when I joined Deloitte in 2011. I thought he was younger and more energetic than I originally imagined a partner would be.

He’s also very, very friendly and very down-to-earth. He’s very talkative and willing to share knowledge. He is also very open to your ideas, because he will always ask, what do you think? What is your point of view? Then, what do you want from Deloitte?

It’s not just about following his instructions or following his way of thinking, so you can really feel the trust that he has in you. This also gives you confidence in your work.

He is very encouraging. He lets the team do the job on their own. He knows the optimal level of involvement.

He’s very strategic. When we first start an engagement, he likes to set a strategy and then set a roadmap, and then he can foresee what the necessary steps might be and at what stage he may need to be more involved. In contrast, I need a higher degree of control and tend to offer more handholding during the life of the project.

Anthony has a wide business network – so his perspective is not just on tax, but also extended to other areas of a business. I think this is good, because when the client comes to us, nowadays they are not just expecting a tax consulting deliverable, but they are also looking for business solutions, I think Anthony’s entrepreneurial mindset is one of his key strengths.

Partners could possibly be more active in joining team-building activities within Deloitte, because it’s a way to really to get to know the younger generation. This way, the team can work more closely, and Anthony could understand more about the younger generation’s thoughts and goals.

Anthony is a role model to me, because I can see that he has really changed and transformed, unlike some bosses who will not change their working style. Some want team members to adapt to their style, but he’s not that kind of person. He values the different chemistry with the clients and also within the team.

What would Miranda change about Anthony?

I sometimes see him skipping lunch and then only having lunch later in the afternoon. This is similar to my working style, because sometimes you are so committed to the work, so focused, and you don’t want any distraction, but I know it’s not good for your health.

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