COVID-19 has impacted all of us in our professional and personal lives. We decided at CBO Search to launch a series of interviews with the main influencers in Tax Technology and share with our readers how this crisis has affected their work and how they adapted to it. We think professionals will work differently after these events. We already see some candidates starting new roles remotely taking us to new territory!
To start the series, we are pleased to speak with Roger Lindelauf who started at the beginning of the year with Vertex as practice Leader SAP VAT. Roger is based in the Netherlands but like many roles in Tax Technology, his work is global.
Welcome Roger, for those who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself?
I live in the Netherlands (Limburg), married for 30+ years, father of 2 boys and a daughter. In terms of hobbies, I like indoor cycling, walking, reading books, having fun with all our animals: 4 dogs, 2 geese, a bunch of chickens and 4 horses. And I have been a musician for about 35 years, playing and teaching clarinet and saxophone.
In terms of career background, I have trained as an accountant, but caught the SAP virus 33 years ago and it never let me go. I worked the first 11 and a half years at a chemical company, a year at IBM, 21 years as a contractor/freelancer and for the last 3 months, back as an employee again.
In all those years I worked as a senior SAP-SD/MM consultant, SAP Finance Architect and developed a VAT Add-on.
It’s interesting to see you came from an accounting background, but since then you have almost exclusively worked on SAP, why did you choose to specialise in Tax automation?
I didn’t choose, Tax automation chose me. 16 years ago I was surprised that SAP was not capable of determining the right country in which you would need to report the transaction for VAT.
That, together with the need to implement the SAP Plants Abroad functionality in 2004 has kept me busy for 16 years in a row.
I bet it will keep you busy for the years to come! In your opinion, what are the main trends in Tax Automation?
There are several main trends. First, everything needs to be faster (near real time reporting etc) and everything needs to become digital. Tax becomes more complex, business becomes more complex (more partners in a flow, often driven by optimizing direct Tax), IT becomes more complex (IoT). API’s are transforming the world (Look at S/4 HANA, it is no longer obvious that you only use SAP; more niche platforms for industry specific solutions will be connected to SAP). And finally: SAP Tax Service, which is not yet there in full but will be starting an unavoidable new era: VAT determination will take place in a central application and no longer within the digital core of SAP S/4 HANA.
Everyone agrees that the pace of change is only increasing indeed. Some of our candidates also think the market in Tax Technology is evolving faster nowadays, what is your take on this?
For a while, the market in Europe was dominated by service providers and was quite slow. However, looking what IT and Tax Authorities are doing, Tax Technology is accelerating with such speed that the market is changing.
Service providers can’t keep up with this anymore and the market will be taken over by software providers who are fully equipped and very well experienced in handling this new situation
Some interesting development in the market to come! What would be your main advice for someone who wants to start working in Tax Technology?
Start with the right company, where you get real good training and support.
Is there anything you would do differently if you could?
Not really, I am very happy with all the choices I have made over the years.
How has your work changed with the current COVID-19 challenges and restrictions?
The only effect for my actual work is that I don’t travel anymore, for the rest my work has stayed the same.
That must give you more time with the family, how do you find working from home? Does it come with its challenges? What are the benefits?
I work from home already for 21 years now and I can’t say that it is challenging. The benefits are numerous, no daily travel time, no disruptions, you really can concentrate on your work. The combination business travel / working from home makes the business travel less difficult for the family (they still see you quite a lot, despite all the travel). You can receive maintenance people, receive packages etc. without having the need to take leave.
Thank you Roger, it has been great hearing about your experience and how you adapted to those challenging circumstances, it looks like you were already ahead of most of us in terms of remote working, it must be due to the fact that you have been working in Tax Technology for a long time now, always a step ahead!