Doctor of Law (J.D.), International Tax, New York University School of Law
Bachelor of Science, Economics and Latin American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University (magna cum laude)
The Business Alchemist (2013-present) Consulting and coaching services to entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits. Provide clarity on best next steps. Mindset coaching (discipline and resilience). Teach various business topics.
HSBC Holdings (2012-2013)Seconded to HSBC from Ernst & Young to advise departments on the technical terms of various US tax laws. Played a hands-on role in ensuring departments met clearly defined operational and performance targets)
Ernst & Young LLP (2010-2013) Advised international banks and insurance companies on various US tax laws and their technical terms. Supported clients in preparing for presentations and meetings in front of the US government. Clients were primarily based in Europe and the Middle East.)
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP (2007-2009) Advised non-US clients on how their transactions (e.g., acquisitions, reorganizations, real estate ventures) would be treated under US law. Prepared detailed memos explaining US law, and coached clients on successfully seeking US approval for proposed transactions.)
Shearman & Sterling LLP (2005-2007) Broad based international tax experience. Drafted detailed opinions and memoranda to explain various tax issues. Pro bono work administering a trial advocacy program in Liberia, West Africa.)
The Long (but definitely more interesting) Version
Welcome to my lab! My name is Erica Noelle Duncan, and for the past 12 years I’ve advised clients in various aspects of business. After graduating from New York University Law School, I began my career as a corporate tax attorney in New York Ciy. Practicing law in New York was like bootcamp; I was immediately thrown into multi-million and billion dollar transactions, and had to quickly adapt to the demanding aspects of my job. This training was invaluable, and I learned not only how to properly advise clients on the tax aspects of thier business, but also how to keep them calm and relaxed as we worked out thorny tax issues.
I must admit though, helping very rich companies get even richer didn’t fill me completely. So I also took on a fair amount of pro bono work, advising nonprofits and ensuring that they set up solid operations. I managed a large roster of non-profit clients, but there are two that stand out the most: Lawyers Without Borders because I had the opportunity to travel to Liberia, West Africa and support rebuilding the country’s justice system after the civil war. The other client that stands out for me is More Than Me Foundation. While in Liberia, I met a young woman who wanted to provide scholarships for girls to go to school. She decided to set up her own foundation, and I had the privilege of walking her through the steps of getting started. She has since opened her own school in Liberia, and her non-profit has gone from strength to strength.
I enjoyed advising my nonprofit clients so much more than my corporate clients and four years into practicing in fast-paced New York, I decided I would switch gears. Just as I began making plans, a headhunter called me about a juicy opportunity to do international tax consulting in London. I would still be advising large corporate clients, but the job promised opportunities to travel throughout Europe and the Middle East. I quicky said ‘yes’, gave notice at my job, packed up my things, and moved across the Atlantic to set up a new life and career.
Moving to a new country was admittedly scary, but an important step in my life’s path. I had the opportunity to advise clients all over Europe and the Middle East (I racked up a ton of frequent flyer miles :-). I also realized that I was particularly good at making clients feel at ease about complex US tax laws. I got a thrill out of walking into a room, feeling clients’ tension about a particular issue, walking them through a solution, and feeling the tension ease by the end of the meeting. My employer picked up that I was really good at this, and began sending me out to win new business.
There was one problem, though: I was still helping very big, very rich corporations get even bigger and richer. I had learned some valuable lessons though: the most important being that I was good at advising clients and winning new business. That I’d been doing it for another company, and that perhaps I could do the same in my own business.
I went away to Bali, Indonesia to really think through things and decided that I would go into business for myself.
From there, The Business Alchemist was (kind of) born (I tried a few different things before settling on what I’m currently doing now). I now use all of my skills to advise entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits. I do this in various ways:
I consult. Helping my clients find clarity on the best next steps for their business.
I coach. Helping my clients develop an “entrpeneur’s mindset” and practice discipline and resilience in business.
I teach. Breaking complex business topics down into digestible, actionable tips.
If you could benefit from having more clarity around your business or nonprofit, I invite you to get in touch with me. I look forward to hearing from you.