From prosecution to taxation
In the business sector, for one to achieve the impossible, they must think of the absurd, look where everyone else has looked but be able to see what no one else has seen.
This is what Gerda Brand, the recently appointed director of the Taxation Services Business Unit at Deloitte Namibia, succeeded to do 15 years ago when she made the decision to change from Public Prosecution field to the tax field; a decision that has proven to be fruitful to her career thus far.
Armed with a degree in Law from the University of Potchefstroom; a diploma in VAT from University of South Africa and a higher diploma in Taxation from the same institution; coupled with over 15 years of Namibian tax experience - nine of which were spent at Deloitte - Brand faces the arduous task of monitoring the legislative and regulatory changes occurring around the world in order to manage potential impact on her organisation.
As a tax director, Brand specialises in all forms of taxation and consultations to a portfolio of corporate, listed and medium sized clients including mining, financial services, retail and manufacturing.
“My plans for the firm as a newly appointed director for tax are all centred around growing the Deloitte tax business,” says Brand.
Being a tax director, the first person to hold that position at Deloitte Namibia, comes as a great achievement to her as she came from the public prosecution field into the tax field out of frustration from her former job. Her journey up the ladder of success has not been an easy one as it took a lot of determination and hard work for her to be where she is today.
“My appointment as the tax director is a great achievement for me as a person coming from a humble background. From a Deloitte perspective; it means we now have a local partner representation. The difference between my former post and the present one is that I now have a lot more responsibilities,” she explains.
Brand also views her appointment from a personal development perspective as a mark that will enable her to educate and give good advice to her clients on a different level, “Money is not a big issue for me but I am very passionate about my job and my job always comes first. My position also gives me the opportunity to share my knowledge with my team.”
It takes a focused person to do the kind of work she does; working hard and having a service mentality, which ultimately sustains the hard work. She adds that a person has to “preferably have a background in Accounting or Law but they also have to get some additional training to update themselves with the demands of the field.”
One of the defining moments in her career was when she was a public prosecutor and decided around March of 1996 that the prosecution world was not for her. She would soon bump into an acquaintance of hers who was then a partner at KPMG who informed her that they were starting a tax law business. That is when she decided to follow her heart and joined the tax business.
Fifteen years down the line, Brand looks back from where she came and confidently says, “I am a person who takes opportunities as they come and since I made that decision to join the tax law field, I have never looked back and have managed to stick to my decision. I am a hands-on leader who likes to involve myself in the day-to-day operations of my unit and I want to empower my team to be responsible for our clients as I always try to lead by example,” adding that, “My ultimate achievement has to be the acknowledgement by fellow Deloitte partners as their partner.”
Brand says that she is motivated by satisfied and appreciative clients. One of the secrets to her success is her passion for her work and the desire to make a difference in her clients’ lives. She says, “I enjoy what I do and I never forget the people around me. Everybody plays a role in my personal development and I cannot do without them. From a career perspective, I am here to stay and I do not have any plans of leaving Deloitte as I look forward to grow the tax business unit.”
She is determined to sail the business unit to efficiency in a desire to leave a legacy of mutual understanding between clients and her organisation.
“I would like to leave a legacy of being client-focused, understanding clients’ needs and being able to come up with solutions that serve their needs,” she concludes. PF