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Natasha Shamutete Takes Her Career to the Next Level With a Taxation Law Degree

June 29, 2023


Natasha Shamutete has never had a problem getting out of her comfort zone.

After leaving Zambia to attend law school in the U.K., she opted for a course load heavy on corporate and commercial law – choices that may not have sounded like the most natural fit for a student whose favourite high school classes were English language and English literature.

“The corporate law class was taught by a professor working in the industry, and it was all about mergers and acquisitions, which just sounded so exciting, interesting and challenging,” Shamutete says. “I could see that it was almost like a game of chess. You have to be creative and strategic to succeed, and that was part of what drew me to commercial law and also why I became interested in tax.”

Following her graduation, Shamutete returned home to learn the ropes of her new profession at a major corporate law firm in the Zambian capital Lusaka, performing some tax work as part of her transactional practice, before deciding that she was ready to test her mettle as a sole practitioner.

“I wanted to try something different,” she explains.

And Shamutete certainly got her wish, tackling a wide range of problems as legal consultant to various local companies – notably for a copper mining company, when the Covid-19 pandemic added an extra wrinkle to the firm’s already-tricky operating environment.

“Mining is a huge part of the national economy, and this was all happening in an election year, so it got political,” she says. “We had to get really creative to figure out a way to scale back operations without compromising the licensing agreements that were in place with the government. It was a very interesting time to be involved in the industry.”

Shamutete subsequently added an international dimension to her work, joining the Lusaka office of Big 4 accounting firm Ernst & Young. There, she took advantage of the tax team’s relatively small size to get involved in an area of particular interest to her – transfer pricing work – before embarking on her latest adventure in Toronto, where she is a student in OsgoodePD’s full-time Professional LLM in Taxation Law program.

“I was doing a very technical job and I had learned a lot, but I felt that a taxation law degree would allow me to take my career to the next level,” Shamutete says.

Although she was previously aware of Osgoode’s stellar reputation in the global legal education sector – and more particularly as a taxation law degree provider – Shamutete says her decision was also influenced by a chat with a fellow Zambian tax lawyer who was also a member of Osgoode’s extensive alumni network.

“We had worked together at EY, so I got in touch with her, and she told me about her experience in the Taxation Law LLM program,” Shamutete says. “When I did my research, I felt like this was the best program for me as a practising tax lawyer, because it is so geared towards professionals.”

In practice, the program has lived up to the hype, says Shamutete, who was particularly pleased by the chance to further explore her interest in transfer pricing via a research paper for one of her classes, completed under the guidance of Professor Scott Wilkie – a renowned international expert in the subject.

“Across the board, the professors have been a highlight for me,” she adds. “Getting to engage with them and tap into that incredible wealth of experience has been an amazing opportunity that I think has really prepared me for a successful career as a tax advisor.”

As she approaches the end of her own taxation law degree, Shamutete has no hesitation in recommending the program to other internationally-trained tax lawyers.

“This program is something that adds a lot of value, not just in terms of credentials, but also in terms of your skills as a practitioner,” she says. “Students get a great deal of support in terms of careers counselling and networking opportunities.”

Natasha Shamutete, an alumna of OsgoodePD's Professional LLM in Taxation Law.

Natasha Shamutete is currently a tax and legal manager at Ernst & Young, as well as a student of the full-time professional LLM in Taxation Law at Osgoode.

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