Esra Albuti

Partner – Business Tax Advisory Services at Ernst & Young

I am currently the youngest director in Ernst and Young’s Riyadh office. They say sons usually follow in their father’s footsteps. That wasn’t the case in my family. 

I always looked up to my father who is a Certified Public Accountant and gained both his masters and Ph.D. in accounting from the US.

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I fell in love with numbers and accounting as a child. I grew up reading my father’s CPA books. I graduated from high school with a high GPA and enrolled in the School of Business at King Saud University, majoring in accounting.

Maybe I should have studied computer science, given that accountants are seen by many as simply “cashiers.” However, my family made me realize that it is better to be a happy cashier than to listen to others and regret it.

I was a focused A+ student and made it to the Dean’s list and graduated top of my class with honors. It was at university that I first heard about Ernst and Young, one of the top accounting and auditing firms in the world. I was determined to work there.

I did have concerns that I could be rejected, since I graduated from a public university, but I saw it as a challenge to get Ernst and Young to accept me, and I was determined to meet that challenge.

I was the first female tax specialist accepted by the firm in Saudi Arabia. Although working in an all-male environment was initially challenging, the support of my family and the firm enabled me to gain the trust of my colleagues and of the company as a whole.

I feel proud that I am giving back to my country by encouraging female students to join this practice and by raising awareness of specializing in such a unique industry as taxes. 

I was the first female manager and the first female partner specializing in tax in Saudi Arabia. That’s been my dream since I joined the company. I believe that there is no limit to what women can accomplish.

In my spare time, I enjoy to drawing and painting. I find it relieves stress. I also enjoy traveling, particularly to London. I spent a year in EY’s London office, and I grew to love the city.

I teach tax and zakat classes in universities. I love teaching the younger generation and helping them practice this unique subject. 

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