“The most valuable thing I learned during the Master is that managing teams and individuals is the most important, rewarding and challenging aspect of our profession”
Luis Miguel Sánchez de Alcázar Alonso
Luis Miguel is VAT Senior Manager at KPMG Lower Gulf, Dubai. After completing his undergraduate studies in law, he decided to step away from preparing for the oposiciones (Spanish state exams for public-service positions). Instead, he joined the Máster en Aseoría Fiscal de Empresas in IE Law School, where he discovered his passion for taxation. For Luis Miguel, the most valuable aspect of the program came from the quality and professionalism of his classmates. In this interview, he talks about his experience in the Master, how IE Law School helped him get into the world of work and the challenges involved in tax auditing.
Luis Miguel Sánchez de Alcázar Alonso, Spain
- Program studied
Why did you decide to study a Master in IE Law School?
I decided against continuing to study for the oposiciones, and began looking for a business school to further my education instead. I found myself at a critical juncture in both my personal and professional life. I felt that this decision was going to have a great impact on my career development in the short and medium term. I was entirely right about that.
I spent countless hours comparing the different possibilities, researching online and reading through different forums. I also had the opportunity to talk with other sector professionals to get their opinions and I visited various institutions. After an intense period of research, I realized that no one could compete with IE Law School’s high educational standards, broad network of contacts and unparalleled access to the professional world.
What stands out from your experience, both professionally and personally, at IE Law School? Any stories you’d like to share?
When you participate in a program with such high standards like this, your classmates become your family. I found it surprising that a system where competitiveness among students is encouraged can end up creating such intense personal bonds.
IE Law School guarantees only the best facilities, materials and educational professionals. However, now that some time has passed and I can better reflect on my experience, I realize that most valuable aspect of the Master was the quality human interaction I had with everyone I met that year. This program gave me the opportunity to meet amazing individuals who have remained by my side, and I’m sure will continue to do so throughout my personal and professional life.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned in the program and which do you apply to your professional life today?
Undoubtedly, the most valuable thing I learned in the Master is that managing teams and individuals is the most important, rewarding and challenging aspect of our profession.
Do you believe that IE delivers a global and comparative vision of law?
Absolutely. The wide variety of legal positions that IE faculty hold, the inspiring international spirit in the programs and the diversity of the participants help make the educational experience even more global.
What are your professional goals?
In the short term, my main objective is to establish myself as a tax consultant in a completely new market: the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia introduced VAT in 2018. In 2019, it was Bahrain’s turn to implement it and, in the coming years, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait will follow in their footsteps. This is a whole new world of career opportunities for specialists.
In the medium and long term, I would like to become a leader in indirect taxation in a company or in one of the Big Four, whether in Spain, Europe or the Middle East.
What do you like most about your profession?
Putting to one side the human factor and personal relationships that I have been lucky enough to develop in all the teams I’ve worked on, what I like most about this profession is how dynamic it is. Tax advisors take on many different roles throughout their career, so you never stop learning and growing. It is incredibly rewarding to look back to the beginning of your career and see how you’ve evolved professionally up until now.
What advice would you give to future lawyers?
I would advise them to be passionate and honest in their professional pursuits. In such a demanding environment, it’s vital to be passionate about your job and honest in everything you do to achieve a balance between personal happiness and professional success. Live with passion, work with passion and be honest with yourself and those around you.
Do you think your experience studying for the oposiciones proved useful during the Master?
Definitely. The discipline and technological knowledge that I gained when studying for the oposiciones gave me and undeniable advantage over those who began the Master immediately after university. My experience studying for those exams has become a life lesson that has helped me improve in my professional life, as well as helping me better face any personal challenges that come up.
How has the Master helped you to get into the labor market and begin working for KPMG?
The Master helped me in every way imaginable. Not only did it give me the necessary tools to begin working in a great position right away, it also helped increase my professional visibility, putting me in direct contact with partners and HR managers from top companies in the sector.
All the offers I got during the Master were the result of direct recommendations from professors I worked with daily, who worked as partners or directors at top firms. My career at KPMG began following a conversation in the corridors at IE with one of my teachers. She was a partner at KPMG in Spain, where I worked until I moved into the United Arab Emirates’ market.
How has your professional experience Dubai been so far? What differences have you noticed working there compared to Spain?
My experience working in Dubai has been incredible, on both a personal and professional level. The cultural diversity that is visible on every corner of the city is one of the greatest aspects of this modern, dynamic and cosmopolitan desert oasis. Working in such a diverse environment is a challenge, but it is also a priceless source of professional learning and growth.
For example, during a recent dinner organized to close a deal, we realized that, out of the 14 people there, there were 13 separate nationalities from five continents. It’s a real Tower of Babel of tax advice!
As for the way we work, I have to say that I’ve come across far more differences than I was expecting. After having worked in such a mature market in Europe, and one as homogeneous as the Spanish market, some of the aspects of the Arab and Indian corporate cultures have really surprised me. That being said, I’m treating this process of cultural and professional adaptation as an exciting challenge and a unique experience that will stay with me throughout my career.
Did you ever imagine advising such high-level clients regarding such relevant issues?
My goals and expectations during the Master and the oposiciones were completely different. It was during my time at IE that I really began to imagine myself working in a professional environment like the one I’ve spent the last few years in.