Monday 12 August 2013

Want to be a leader?

Three real life leaders who started in tax
If you think a taxation career is tailor-made for detail-oriented perfectionists, it may be time to reconsider. To excel in tax, you need a strong blend of commercial acumen and creative vision – qualities that work as catalysts for taking a business to new heights. And from high-powered politicians to global CFOs, these former tax professionals boast the kind of career trajectories that prove taxation is about more than just crunching numbers.

Peter Costello – Chairman of the Independent Advisory Board, World Bank

It’s hard to find a figure that demonstrates the way taxation knowledge can fuel success as powerfully as Peter Costello. The former Liberal Party Treasurer, who honed his legal expertise working as a solicitor at law firm Mallesons Stephens Jacques in the 1980s, abolished seven taxes and minimised company, income and capital gains tax in what is widely considered Australia’s most influential tax reform.

Since leaving the Liberal Party, Costello founded boutique corporate advisory firm BKK Partners, heads up lobbying firm EGC and was appointed as chairperson of the Independent Advisory Board – an anti-corruption body established by the World Bank in Washington.

Joycelyn Morton – Snowy Hydro Limited, Non-Executive Director

If you’re sceptical about the relationship between a taxation background and leadership talent, just ask Joycelyn Morton. An early career role working in audit and tax at PricewaterhouseCoopers served as a powerful foundation for a series of professional milestones, culminating in her appointment as Vice President Accounting Services for Netherlands-based petroleum giant Shell. She was earlier appointed Group Taxation Manager for Woolworths and has held non-executive directorships at fashion retailer Noni B, wealth management firm Count Financial and the Crane Group.

Morton’s combination of industry expertise and vision also saw her appointed National President of accounting body CPA Australia in 2000 – proof of how taxation expertise can cultivate the big-picture thinking that’s central to effective leadership. 

Chris Jordan – Commissioner of Taxation, ATO

When Chris Jordan started working at financial services firm KPMG, he had no idea that his career would see him advising John Howard on taxation matters or designing systems to enable the smooth implementation of the GST. Jordan, who was previously chairman of KPMG NSW and partner in charge of the NSW Tax and Legal Division, has seen his taxation prowess take him from strength to strength – he’s steered the country’s biggest businesses through tricky financial matters and was recently named Commissioner of Taxation, a move that sees him heading up the ATO.

A background in taxation is a springboard that can take your career further than you ever dreamed possible. So the only question is: where do you want to go?

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