Mike Knowles


Mike’s advice to Arts students is to think outside the box when it comes to exploring careers options. Having studied history at Leeds, Mike has been able to use his inter-personal and organisational skills gained through hi course to become a Corporate Tax Associate with Deloitte.

What is your job title and who do you work for?

I work for Deloitte LLP, and my job title is Associate, within the Corporate tax service line.

Describe your role.

My role involves a variety of tasks, but the focus is on preparing the corporate tax computations and returns for a number of clients, to whom I am specifically assigned. This involves many steps, from sending out an original information request, completing the tax return, and finally filing the return with HM Revenue & Customs. I also have to complete tasks such as drafting letters to be sent to clients, liaising with HMRC on behalf of clients, and assisting senior members of staff in research, planning and targeting. In addition to my role at work, I am also studying for my ACA qualification. This takes 3 years, and when complete will mean I am a Chartered Accountant. I receive study leave and also study for this qualification during the evenings after work.

How did you get to be in your current role after leaving the University of Leeds?

While in my third year of study, I applied to a number of graduate schemes, Deloitte among them. After having my application form studied, I was invited to take a number of online tests, on my verbal and numerical ability. After passing these, I had a first round interview with a senior manager, and finally an interview and extended business exercise with a partner of the firm. After being successful at this stage, I was offered a place on the Deloitte graduate scheme.

What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?

I was involved in peer mentoring and working as an intern for the School of History while in my final year of university. This was very useful when going through the application process for Deloitte, as it not only helped me develop valuable skills, such as inter-personal and organisational skills, but it also gave me something that differentiated me from others applying to the graduate scheme.

What skills and attributes did you gain from your course?

I gained a variety of skills, such as the ability to work independently, working to deadlines, and the ability to quickly take in large amounts of information, and summarise. My degree also helped me develop inter-personal skills, which are very important in the workplace.

What skills and attributes did you gain from your co-curricular activities?

I developed my inter-personal skills through peer mentoring, and my organisational skills through my work as a School of History intern. The fact that both of these were positions of responsibility was also helpful during my application process, as it showed I possessed a level of commitment which would be needed when in the workplace.

What advice would you have for students studying today?

My foremost piece of advice would be aimed at students studying Arts degrees, such as History or English. In my experience at university, many students assumed that to gain a career in business it was necessary to study maths or a business related subject. This is simply not true, as arts students have many abilities that businesses desire, such as inter-personal skills, independent working and the ability to take in and summarise large volumes of information. I would encourage all students to avoid being “pigeon-holed” into a particular career based on their degree and if they wish to have a career in business to pursue this, as they are just as desirable as people who have studied more “relevant” degrees.