Posted: Tuesday 10 July 2012
By Jackie Cameron, Cameron Consulting
I remember the advert for the job well; an Edinburgh based law firm, Morton Fraser Milligan, based in York Place, was looking to add a new part-time member to their Tax department. It appeared in the newspaper a few weeks before my son started primary school and I had only just started to look for a job after having 7 years at home with the children. So I thought I might as well give it a go…
The Tax department then was a wholly male domain. There were 5 of us - all in a room in number 15 - and it is fair to say that there was a fair bit of banter with visitors. Over time the people in that room may have changed but one thing that remained the same was the Tax department’s reputation for a bit of banter. Whether I was the reason for that I’ll leave it up to my colleagues to decide!
From my earliest days there I was already thinking ahead about the next stage of my career and I decided to study for a business degree. But by that time my job had become full time, my kids were still young and I was going to add studying to that mix – it was a bit of a handful! Although most of what I was learning was academic in its focus I did start to find it useful for my day to day job. It does worry me a little now to think that my colleagues might have become the guinea pigs in some of my coursework… thank you for your ‘cooperation’!
At that time Morton Fraser Relocation was part of the firm and increasingly clients were asking for advice on moving their employees internationally. I was drafted into the team to explore how MFR could meet their needs. It was a steep learning curve but we soon were competing with other companies in what was a developing area of business, with the firm continuing, as it does to this day, to provide domestic tax advice.
I was around at the time of the great rebranding – or at least when new logos were being discussed – and was reminded of this when I saw the most recent changes in 2009. Morton Fraser International was also created at that time and naturally there was a lot of excitement about headed paper, pens and business cards for this new venture. Bruce Wood had the not inconsiderable challenge of leading that.
You might have read recent Kristin White’s post about her experience on joining Morton Fraser. I can recall using the newly available Easyjet flights to Luton so that she and I could meet in the St Albans office and then generally go about business in London. Gordon Kerr and I also had some memorable European trips. On one occasion when we were trying to build relationships with suppliers in Holland, we drove from an early morning meeting at Schiphol Airport to the south of the country, quickly grabbing a sausage roll and a cake from a bakery in a small town there prior to our meeting and then drove back to catch the last flight home. And another episode in which we had to get to our meetings in Paris using the Metro, unfortunately we had left it so late that we had to run (me in heels) through Charles de Gaulle at top speed before the plane doors closed! It all seemed so glamorous on paper. I did get a couple of big trips to the USA to speak to a mainly US audience.
A trip to Washington DC was to be my swansong . I had decided that it was time for me to move on. It was not a decision taken lightly though and I stayed in touch with a lot of my former colleagues. After a short stint in international tax with Ernst& Young, I decided to set up my own training and coaching business, Cameron Consulting, specialising in communication skills. My time in crafting my skills in the chatty tax department and making presentations for the relocation business stood me in good stead. Saying that I was a former employee of a respected Edinburgh law firm definitely opened doors too.
But I sometimes feel that I did not really leave. When the Morton Fraser's Business Women’s Network was set up, I was one of the early members and so, over the years since then, I have been in the Morton Fraser offices – even as speaker a couple of times. I am also pleased to count myself as a client of the firm. And as I write this I have just seen a Tweet about a Social Media Clinic I will be running in the Morton Fraser Café in a few weeks!