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“I’ve only saved one life”

23rd November 2020

“I’ve only saved one life”

We’re back, baby, with a spotlight on another member of our TaxScouts team. Today, we meet Humza – living proof that hard work pays off. 

Humza started at TaxScouts in our Operations team as an intern, and now, after just one year, he leads the team he started in, guiding our new interns through the world of tax returns and customer support. Keep reading to learn about his experience as a recent graduate looking for work, his life as a professional gamer and his dreams of living in… Minnesota. 

The graduate

I’ll go through the whole shebang because, why not? I graduated two years ago, so quite recently to be fair. For me, it was always about hoping someone would give me the opportunity to showcase my skills; it was never about knowing what I wanted to do with my career in the long term. I wanted to put myself in a position where I was happy. My priority was always going to be that because I felt like if I was going to be waking up at 7:30am Monday to Friday, you want it to be something good. 

My first job, I took anything that came by.

My first job, I took anything that came by. I worked in HR for a bank, which actually wasn’t that far from where our old TaxScouts office was. At our quarterly meetings at TaxScouts, it was nice to see my progression, like, I was there and now I’m here up the road! Anyway, I absolutely hated that job. I was basically a puppet, jotting down things into a spreadsheet everyday, ticking a few boxes, having lunch, doing the same then going home. Rinse and repeat, right? It wasn’t something that I wanted to do. 

After that, again, I just got any job I could. I worked in Debenhams as Business Support – so banking and things like that – but I also worked in Womenswear. I did the fitting rooms, spoke to customers… it was quite crazy. It was busy as well because it was during the Christmas period. Boxing Day, I was just running around picking things off the floor until I was like, “God, no! Please no!” 

Then I started looking for a grad scheme job.

The chicken wrap

I started looking for something secure and relevant, and that I could actually have a career in. I found a job in a consultancy on a graduate programme, but then it was banking again and when I was working there, I was in a position where I wasn’t happy. I felt like I’d rather have prioritised happiness than money at the start of my career. As I said, if you’re waking up every morning to do something, you need to enjoy yourself. 

Anyway, I worked there for a couple of months but it didn’t work out. So I started applying for various jobs and then randomly – I remember this day perfectly, I had just had a chicken wrap – I thought about applying for startups. Then I found TaxScouts. 

TaxScouts was the first company that gave me an opportunity, so I was always going to give back.

Seb (Head of Operations) got back to me, we had a phone interview and then I started as an intern. I was always grateful because TaxScouts was the first company that gave me an opportunity, so I was always going to give back. That’s why I try to go above and beyond within my job. You give back to the people who have been the most loyal and faithful to you. 

I’ve been at TaxScouts for a year now and I’m now in a completely new, more senior role, so I’m managing the interns that are in the position that I was. I want to give them that drive and motivation to achieve their career goals, like I was trying to a year ago. 

What I like most about TaxScouts is the culture. I never wanted to work somewhere with a boring environment. I wanted to be in a position where everyone in the workplace gelled with the people around them. I don’t have ‘work Humza’ and ‘outside work Humza’ – I can incorporate both because I look forward to coming to work with everyone. Everyone around us is so bubbly and fun and so motivated about the company. 

Welcome to the world of tax

I had no tax knowledge prior to joining TaxScouts. I was just one hungry individual that said that whatever it takes, I’ll learn it! I knew that people had to do their taxes but the biggest learning for me was about understanding Self Assessments, specifically who needs to complete a tax return and why do they need to complete one. 

There are two sides of the coin:

  1. Learning about why people have to do tax returns
  2. Seeing people having to do tax returns and understanding the stress behind it all

I’m able to empathise because in January alone I spoke to over 1500 people on my own so I spoke to every type of person you could think of. People that were stressed, people that were angry, people that were worried, people that were scared, people that were happy. I spoke to everyone. I was able to incorporate all of my knowledge, having learned the tax basics, to alleviate people’s concerns when they came onto our website. 

A lot of talking on support that I do is saying, “Yeah, it’s true! Please believe me!” Like, even people on the phone are like, “What, really?! £119 including VAT?” 

To be honest, I think most confusion actually comes from how the TaxScouts process works.  Some people who might not be too computer savvy just want that extra reassurance. Also our price is quite competitive. So much so that people think that it’s not real. A lot of talking on support that I do is saying, “Yeah, it’s true! Please believe me!” Like, even people on the phone are like, “What, really?! £119 including VAT?” 

I’ve been gaming since I was 4

I’m a professional gamer. I work my day at TaxScouts then afterwards, put on my headset and link up gaming with all of my mates! I play competitively in various tournaments – so that’s me playing with people around the UK, around Europe or globally. It’s something that I’ve always had a passion for. As I got older, it was something that I wanted to pursue as a hobby. I’ve always loved pressure and when you’re playing for money and playing with people competitively, the only thing you have to worry about is your internet connection. That or lag! 

All I’ve actually done in lockdown is gaming. Even before lockdown I was gaming loads so nothing’s changed. I’m an indoors person in general.

The famous professionals have endorsements with brands but someone like myself who does it as a casual gamer basically puts in money as entry to compete. The main game I play is FIFA, which I do competitively. It’s something that I’ve been doing professionally for the last 4 years, but I’ve been gaming since I was about 4. When I was younger, my mum used to hide the controller but obviously I’d know the hiding places so I’d go and play anyway. All I’ve actually done in lockdown is gaming. Even before lockdown I was gaming loads so nothing’s changed. I’m an indoors person in general – so lockdown literally just felt like summer holidays. The only difference was that I was working at the same time. 

Oh, I’m also a junior qualified lifeguard. I save lives. I don’t like swimming with outdoor clothes on, but if I have to, I will. I’ve only saved one life, to be fair. It was his fault, the boy I saved. He jumped into the deep end for no reason, so I saved him. Bish bash bosh, he’s out of the pool. 

Dreaming of Minnesota

All I know is London. I grew up in West London so all I knew was West when I was younger. But as I get older and now that I drive, I try to explore outside of the city. It feels like a different world. No one shouts, no one is loud, it smells fresh, the food’s cheaper, nicer. It’s just more refreshing outside. London is quite cramped. Then you go out and it’s a completely different world.

If I didn’t live in London, I’d probably live in Minnesota in America. I have some family out there but the main reason is that despite it being like minus 15 and snowy, I like the cold weather. I’m also a massive baseball and ice hockey fan – and they’re some of the main sports over there. I watch the team over here but it’s something I’d love to watch live. Also the way sports fans are over there, they’re so committed and it’s so nice to see a vibe where everyone gets together. I’m so used to football in this country and in America specifically, there are so many other sports. I support Minnesota Wild Ice Hockey, Minnesota Twins – anything Minnesota-related!  

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