Why did you choose to pursue a career in tax? Was there an ‘aha’ moment? If so, please describe.
I have always been drawn to and motivated by challenges, which has been a key factor in the shape and path of my career. I started studying accounting in school, but without a clear picture of what I wanted to do with my education. I actually do remember an “aha” moment, when I realized that my introductory tax class was the most challenging class I had taken in the business school to that point. I had to focus and put more effort into my tax classes in order to do well, and that is what drew me to tax as the focal point of my career.
From your career, is there a particular deal that sticks out to you as a turning point, or watershed moment for you, and why? What did you learn or take away from that deal?
It’s hard to point to a single deal. I have been fortunate to have great sponsors and mentors throughout my career who have believed in me and put me in the room or at the table even in situations where I didn’t personally feel I was ready. I’ve learned something significant in each one of those experiences. One lesson I believe in strongly is that there is no faster path to grow than stepping out of your comfort zone and tackling a challenge that scares you a bit.
What do you consider to be the greatest achievements of your career to date?
I’d say the relationships I’ve built with team members, colleagues and clients. It is extremely rewarding to see tax professionals I’ve mentored and coached over the years advance to the position of Partner or Managing Director with our firm. I’m also very proud of and thankful for the stellar roster of clients I’ve been able to collaborate with over my career. And then there are the individual team and project accomplishments that are also so rewarding—seeing a team band together to help a client achieve meaningful change, and seeing the client personnel really experience the benefits of the transformation I’ve helped them achieve.
Tax work in the pandemic era
What kind of challenges did you face adapting to the workplace amid the pandemic?
My biggest challenge involved stepping into a completely new leadership role three months into the pandemic, when it was impossible to travel to meet any of my new team members live. Building relationships virtually is certainly very different from building relationships face-to-face, and I’ve been learning some new communication skills. I’m still really looking forward to the time when I can meet my team members live, but in the meantime we’ll continue to Zoom! Personally, I really struggled with the change of pace the pandemic brought. As someone who was used to being on the road most weeks, the sudden shift to sitting in my home office every day made me feel very restless and disconnected.
Are there any initiatives that you have observed which you feel may help your clients deal with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Absolutely. Deloitte has developed some great materials on resiliency, including labs we are conducting on resilient leadership and beating burnout. I believe my clients will also benefit long-term from the increased focus on flexibility, the realization of just how flexible many of our professionals are, and the new skills we’ve all learned to work and collaborate productively in a virtual environment. From a technology and transformation standpoint, we have also experienced an increased focus on the tools we deliver to automate workflow and enable collaboration across remote teams.
What was one of the most interesting deals you worked on in the past year and why?
We’ve seen significant spin-off activity in the past year, and I’ve been working with a number of clients to analyze their resource needs and tax operating model post-spin—both for the original parent company and for the spin-off business. Those types of deals involve very interesting combinations of legacy processes and practices to evaluate, along with the potential to achieve a fresh start and design the tax department of the future from day one for the new business.
A career in tax
What key piece of advice would you give to young attorneys just getting into a firm or entry-level job? Is there something you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
Expect to never stop learning. Continually learning and growing is what has made my own career so rewarding. Expect to prove yourself, but also expect and believe that the people you work with and for genuinely want to support you and your success. Say yes to the opportunities that come your way—challenge yourself and you may be surprised at what you can achieve.
What does your firm do to nurture and promote talent? Do you think it compares well to others in your market in this area?
Absolutely. We have tremendous professional and personal development resources at Deloitte, and our commitment to investing as a firm in the well-being of our professionals has only intensified through the pandemic. Many of the courses and development opportunities I’ve had through my career have not only taught me on-the-job skills, but truly significant life and leadership skills.
What does the tax function of the future look like?
The future of tax means unprecedented growth and career opportunities for tax professionals, who will become extraordinarily valuable by not only understanding and applying tax law and policy, but also wielding technology and data management skills – as well as a deep understanding of the businesses they operate in – to enhance the advice they provide. Tax professionals will operate in less siloed environments and will be more closely integrated into the finance function. And as the more routine and mechanical aspects of tax calculations are automated, we will have increasing opportunities to focus on more meaningful and value-adding work.
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