I took a fairly traditional route. I began with Coopers & Lybrand as an auditor in 1984. I moved to the tax practice in Brussels and then moved as a junior to help set up the Antwerp tax practice, where I made partner in 1996. Shortly after that, I moved to Brussels to lead the team there. In 1999, I became the senior tax partner in the newly opened Ghent office, and in 2001, I was appointed as the Europe, Middle East and Africa Tax and Legal Services VAT Leader. Since 2005, I have held the position of Global Indirect Taxes Network Leader.
During my second year with the firm, I was sent to a VAT training programme in the UK where we discussed European court cases etc. I found my calling there—I knew that it was what I wanted to do, and I was allowed to do it. This spirit of entrepreneurship has always been an important element in my path and because PwC is so dynamic, you can really do whatever you want.
From 2006 to 2008, I did a secondment in the Middle East, leading a public sector project. This has been my most significant development opportunity to-date—I have learned so much. My clients were Arabs and I was overseeing a team of 16 nationalities with an array of different specialisations (tax, HR, IT, business process, etc). Now I can say that I am "truly global".
Since my return, I've had partners remark on the change they see in me. Working in the Middle East also shattered my prejudices of thinking women don’t take leadership roles there—that's absolutely not true, it’s a myth.
The financial crisis brings with it a unique opportunity to make the work-life balance proposal a reality for all of us—not just women. We should be looking at part-time work. We should offer it to all of our staff (not just women). Let’s also ask men how they balance their lives. Women aren’t the only ones with work-life balance issues.