By Tess Williams
Tess Williams, a partner in our South West & Wales tax practice, talks about her career path and explains why social mobility and opportunities for all are important to her.
I #ChoosetoChallenge social mobility. I pledge to inspire younger generations to aim high and achieve their ambitions, irrespective of their personal circumstances or access to a university education.
We all need a goal and we all need the self-belief that we can succeed with the right opportunities, determination and mind-set. I am testament to the fact that, with personal drive and support, you can achieve your ambition.
After leaving comprehensive school and finishing my A-levels, I joined a Big4 accountancy firm as an apprentice. My goal was to further my education and development outside of a university setting. I was hugely thankful that as part of the apprenticeship I was supported through professional exams for the Association of Tax Technicians and worked my way up to tax consultant before choosing to join Deloitte in 2001.
The apprenticeship was my opportunity to enter the professional world. It ignited my drive to succeed and gave me an exciting future vision, both from a work and personal life perspective.
Despite being in control of my own career, it didn’t follow a conventional path - I had a family in my early 20s, which was not the norm at the time, creating an erroneous perception to some that I may have given up on my career at an early stage. I took time out for each of my maternity leaves and subsequently worked part-time for ten years while I raised my children. My ambition remained throughout and, after testing out multiple different working patterns, I found a way of working that gave me the right and successful work/life balance.
I’ve always been authentic, true to my myself and have always led in my own way – even when I thought at times my personal style may not fit the typical stereotype of a leader. However, my leadership style was embraced by peers and my team and so my confidence grew. I am thankful for the fantastic mentoring I’ve had along the way, the strong role models both in Deloitte and in the client organisations I’ve been fortunate to work with, and of course for the support and guidance given by my family and friends.
Now as a partner in Deloitte, I am passionate about ensuring that other school leavers have the same opportunity that I had (if not better!) and are inspired to aim high, irrespective of their personal circumstances or access to a university education. At Deloitte, we foster inclusion and one of the sayings we have is: It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re going that counts. I am a strong supporter of employability skills training, and invest my personal time in this, as well as Deloitte’s BrightStart higher apprenticeship scheme and mentoring programmes, in which I’m an active participant.
I #ChoosetoChallenge social mobility because I believe everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their personal and professional goals.