“It’s a misconception that tax is boring,” according to Lori Nichols, Senior Director of International Tax at Adobe. After 15 years in this position, Nichols has worked with people all over the world and within every function of the company. Her job has been extremely challenging and complex, and it forces her to learn and progress each day. Growing up with several foreign exchange students passing through her home and gaining an education at Brigham Young University – surrounded by countless individuals with international experience – has certainly helped. However, as discussed in her iHub Cultural Conversations Podcast, the best learning has come through personal experience abroad.
Last year, Nichols visited Paris, Milan, Madrid, and Dublin and worked daily with individuals from Ireland, India, and even Bermuda. On each of her trips, she tries to do something fun. Sometimes that leads her to a historic site for a dose of culture, other times to a local restaurant for some exotic foods. Experiencing foreign environments has helped her realize that being thoughtful and respectful, no matter where you are, is always the best way to act in today’s global society.
In Japan, Nichols had to learn to put her hands together and bow rather than put her hand forward to shake another’s. In India, she had to learn to negotiate with tax advisors softly and indirectly, rather than make her point directly and succinctly. “One always needs to be aware of culture and how that drives how people work.” Because of their global scale, Adobe has created online tools to help train employees to interact respectfully with people of different backgrounds and cultures. That software has been very informative for her.
Tax is an extremely technical field, particularly international tax. One aspect of Nichols’ job is learning and interpreting the tax laws of various countries. In her position, it’s extremely important to stay up to date on policy changes and court rulings in order to make informed decisions on certain tax positions. Because of differing laws among nations, it’s important to learn Adobe’s processes and operations in depth so that they can be applied and understood in the context of several different tax codes.
Tax organizations can be just as regulated and structured as tax codes, so it’s also important for international tax workers to stay up to date with compliance regulations and anti-corrupt practices acts. At Adobe, there is a legal team that helps tax employees understand and apply best practices for the firm. That team helps employees uphold global ethical values while maintaining the standards embedded in the CPA license.
An international career comes with many perks and pitfalls. Traveling the world and experiencing new things can be riveting but learning the complexities that come from differing cultures and regulations can be taxing. With such a complex yet rewarding career, it’s important to develop skills and habits that breed success. Some of the tips Nichols gives include the following three things:
- be curious
- ask lots of questions
- always assume the best in people.
To learn more about what a job in International Tax at Adobe is like, listen to the iHub Cultural Conversations podcast here.