A photo of a woman wearing a black dress, sitting on a cream sofa, hands folded, against the background of a cream wall and white door.
Maura Ginty, graduate of Law and Accounting at UL and Founder of Gintax.
Wednesday, 26 June 2024

In the latest instalment of our Alumni Spotlight series, we speak to University of Limerick graduate Maura Ginty, who studied Law and Accounting.

From landing her "dream course" to working with one of the Big Four accounting organisations and founding her own company, Maura reflects on how her time at UL shaped a successful and rewarding career.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am from Ballycroy in West Mayo – it is pretty remote. I went to secondary school in Belmullet, a 40km bus ride away. It was the 1990s, and I think most students in our school would be the first of our generation to go to college. We had no idea!

What course did you study, and what year did you graduate?  

I studied Law and Accounting from 1998 to 2002. It was my dream course - I was delighted to get in.

Why did you choose to study at UL?  

Our secondary school had arranged a day trip, and I loved the campus – even though the other side of the river was just a pipedream at that stage!  Also, the course name – Law and Accounting; it seemed like a challenge and would set me up for the world of work.  

What were the highlights of your course?  

We were a tight-knit class, and I loved that aspect. As to the course, I really enjoyed the mix of subjects and indeed the semester system; I like a deadline and a solid goal, and there were plenty of these in our course!

As a Law and Accounting student, you had the opportunity to learn from some of the top academic talent, in state-of-the-art facilities. What was your experience like? 

After about our third tax lecture, I knew I wanted a career in tax. I give credit here to our lecturer; he was a very talented teacher, who made tax appear simple (!) and spent a lot of time engaging with students.

This level was a theme throughout my years – the lecturers wanted to engage and were readily available to meet and discuss. This was particularly true as we progressed to fourth year; the stakes were higher and we had a lot more support from faculty. In particular, tutorials were great to ensure you were on top of coursework.

What advice would you offer to students considering studying your course? 

By its nature, the Law and Accounting course tends to attract more academically focused students. So, I would recommend to them to try and get the full benefit from campus life and engage in extracurricular activities/societies and sports; I would stress the latter particularly to females, as there is usually a massive drop-off in participation when they reach college-age. 

Also, specifically – do not be put off by fact that you did not previously study accounting. I hadn’t, and was slightly nervous on this aspect, but it was fine; there is assumption of zero baseline knowledge.

Were you a member of any clubs or societies? If so, tell us a bit about your experience!  

It is my big regret that I did not take part on the sporting side – the only time I went to the sports building was to do an exam! I want to kick myself when I look back to my time in UL and the sports opportunities and facilities available. 

I only took up sports in my early thirties, and it has changed my life for the better in so many ways, particularly my work outlook.

At UL, we’re known as the ‘Home of Firsts’ – are there any important ‘firsts’ that you experienced as a UL student, that you would like to share?  

It was the late 90s, the campus computers were the only place we could access internet or emails – it was great! One of our classmates, Dave, was ‘big into computers’ (he is now a Professor of – “something to do with computers”) and he alerted us all to text messaging. At the time, you could not text from phones but could via the web-text at the campus computers – so we thought that was kind of cool. 

Also, in that era, most of us got our first mobile phones in Orientation Week – a bargain in exchange for lifelong bank custom!

Are there any campus locations that hold special significance to you?  

I loved that library building; the quote in the foyer (“not to yield”) and the hours we used to spend in the plaza café, most of the time debating whether we should just go upstairs to the library or stay around drinking more coffee. 

How did your course and your overall UL experience prepare you for entering the workplace upon graduating?  

For a tax adviser, law and accounting could not be a more perfect mix of subjects. I can’t think of any course module that has not served me well in work – maybe, apart from criminal law! The mix that we encounter day to day as tax advisers is varied, from the obvious to more niche like EU law (some tax provisions are State Aid), corporate finance (valuing companies) and Equity (anyone for Trusts?).

Could you update us on where you are now in your career?  

After graduating, I joined the KPMG graduate tax programme and ended up spending 16 years there as a tax adviser. I found it extremely difficult to leave – I enjoyed working with the clients and the teams there; I got to work with some of the most talented tax advisers in the country. 

However, my preference is working with smaller clients (owner-managed business, SMEs, and start-ups) and these people are better served outside the large practice system. So, I set up my own firm, Gintax, to do this, with the aim of bringing same level of service/thinking to this market. It’s working! Business is busy and I now have two other advisers in the firm.

What are your hopes and plans for the future?  

My aim is to grow the tax practice further. I am building a different type of firm, focused on SME/start-up tax advisory. The backbone of this will be the team – well-rewarded, high performers who enjoy their work, in a firm that supports their life outside of work. The latter part is the deal breaker for me; we can’t wait until next year/the next promotion for the balance – it needs to be embedded in the culture from the start.