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What do you want to be when you grow up?

Posed by parents to adult children worldwide, this frustrating question might be the most difficult for any young-adult to answer.  Yet this is the question I, myself, pose to students when they call for advice on the Tax and Technology curriculum.  Why do I reiterate this inevitable question? Partly because I am truly interested in knowing more about the student, but also because I realize that the impact of technology on tax has created ever-expanding job opportunities.

"Gaining entry into the emerging world of tax technology opened my eyes to the varied and diverse people who have migrated to this field."

In the beginning of my career, going on 20 years, I was neither a tax nor a technology specialist. Fundamentally, I was an associate professor teaching at the local university and working on a PhD. In the age of newspaper want-ads, I stumbled on a technology company looking for a technical instructor. In particular, the company requested that the applicant had experience in adult learning and some background in technology.  I applied and ultimately made it through a very rigorous interview process, including developing and presenting a course to be delivered to the entire company training department.

I can honestly say; this job changed my life.

Gaining entry into the emerging world of tax technology opened my eyes to the varied and diverse people who have migrated to this field. IT specialists, educators, auditors, consultants, sales specialists and of course tax professionals have all influenced the ever-changing face of tax technology over the years.  Having had the profound privilege of working with many esteemed, intelligent and dedicated people who love the world of tax technology, I know now that I have learned something from each interaction.

The intersection of tax and technology allows us to use diverse skills to train, mentor, educate, and solve problems for client processes which are globally driven.  After 20 years, I can attest to the speed at which the geo-political climate and developments in technology have affected my every day job.Tax and technology is ever-changing, influenced by local politics and world governments. It is affected by the rapid developments in digital platforms and social media. It requires not just tax and IT technical skills, but also be service oriented with critical thinking and problem solving ability.  A successful person must be flexible, self-driven, and willing to spend long hours in airports across the world.

"The intersection of tax and technology allows us to use diverse skills to train, mentor, educate, and solve problems for client processes which are globally driven."

Circling back to the original question: What do you want to be when you grow up? In the field of tax technology, opportunities are now infinite.  Use your love of IT language development skills to create your own tax calculator as a new start-up. Use your tax experience to solve client issues, with emerging digital technologies, at a large consulting firm. Use your teaching fundamentals and enthusiasm to educate new students a newly developed university curriculum. Personally, I know all these people. They are successful doing what they love the most, in a field that challenges them each day.

This year, my career has also travelled full circle.  Having the honour of being part of the new Tax and Technology curriculum, at the universities in the Netherlands, has given me yet another opportunity to possibly impact, in some small way, this thriving field of specialization.  Hopefully, it allows me to inspire young minds to make this field their own. To use their passion, intelligence, and world perspective to influence the very nature of the business. To make an impact while achieving the success they define with their own terms.

So tell me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Laura Plummer

Assistant Professor & Coordinator