When I began preparing for my year as TEI International President, I reached out to several past presidents to gain a general sense about their experiences, what was especially memorable, and what, if anything, they may have done differently. I was especially interested in two particular dimensions. First, the goal-setting process, and second, how to balance my “day job” with my TEI duties. Now, as my presidential term comes to a close, I would like to share their counsel, as a way both to express my sincere thanks for their guidance and to pass along their suggestions to those who will assume the duties of TEI president in the future.
First, they said, don’t bite off too much. The presidential year flies by and thus the ability to see projects through from initiation to completion would likely present challenges. Candidly, because I’ve never much cared for starting things without being able to see them through, this piece of advice was encouraging. And, second, all reminded me that everyone on my leadership team was a TEI volunteer, regularly juggling competing professional and personal priorities and deadlines—wholly apart from TEI.
With those thoughts in mind, I embarked on building what would become a set of goals called “Building for the Future.” These goals largely focused on making progress on several ongoing initiatives and bringing closure to and making decisions on a number of others. Common to all these efforts was adding member value and enhancing the member experience.
Emerging Tax Professionals
As I take a measure of our successes, I am pleased to report that our efforts to embrace emerging tax professionals continue at every level within our organization. Educational, orientation, and outreach programs have taken place at the chapter, regional, and Institute levels. Under the leadership of Emerging Tax Professionals (ETP) subcommittee co-chairs Emily Whittenburg (Houston Chapter) and Kris Rogers (Oklahoma City Chapter), TEI has embarked on an aggressive “train the trainer” program to expand our outreach to ETPs. Most recently, Kris led a presentation on that topic for our incoming chapter presidents at the Leadership Foundations Seminar.
As of this writing, the Access Granted membership campaign is in full swing. This campaign operationalizes the recommendations of the membership recruitment task force to expand TEI’s membership base through coordinated efforts that detail the benefits of Institute membership. The campaign will equip chapter, regional, and Institute leadership with tools and templates to communicate a clear, consistent message—a TEI membership will enable and accelerate professional development and career advancement.
I am especially gratified by our efforts to accelerate the development of a skills-based curriculum within TEI’s overall continuing education footprint. Skills-based learning represents a critical growth opportunity for TEI and its membership. Tax professionals must demonstrate facility in both technical and skills-based knowledge. To date, our efforts to embed skills-based learning within our existing educational footprint (at the Midyear Conference, Audits and Appeals, and Federal Tax Course — Level I) have yielded uniformly positive results. And, I am hopeful that these efforts will continue to expand and over time mature into a comprehensive curriculum taught by in-house professionals for in-house professionals. I am grateful to all who have committed time and energy to these efforts.
We have also been able to revise the Institute’s investment policy to better maximize investment returns while adhering to our overall conservative investment philosophy. In addition, the work of the conference pattern task force has resulted in a recommendation to streamline the Institute’s Annual Conference pattern. Commencing in 2018, the conference will be shortened and streamlined while preserving its essential content and character. I am grateful to the leadership of Rich Wireman and his working group for their efforts to solicit broad-based input.
Finally, I am hopeful that efforts to assess the value TEI offers to its members outside the United States and Canada will continue, in recognition of the significant membership growth that TEI has experienced around the world. Creating value for TEI members everywhere will certainly help sustain us as the preeminent organization of in-house professionals worldwide.
My colleagues reminded me that I (and my entire leadership team) already had day jobs whose attentions should always take priority. Wearing both hats and balancing the various demands certainly took forethought and planning. Yet, even in the face of an extremely challenging year in my industry, I was delighted to have visited and participated in various chapter and regional events, conferences, and seminars in Europe, Canada, and the United States. I also had the honor of participating in the launch of our Latin America chapter last July (accompanying then-TEI President Mark Silbiger to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo).
Of course, there were TEI events that were penciled in on my calendar but which, regrettably, had to give way to my business commitments. In particular, attendance at our Canadian liaison meeting was a very unfortunate miss, as were our Treasury liaison meetings. I know we were well represented, and I am proud of our efforts.
Achieving a “work–work” balance was always facilitated by the outstanding efforts of my entire leadership team. My executive committee, committee and task force chairs, and regional vice presidents always stood ready and able to help us achieve collective success. Their contributions and insights sustained our efforts and momentum throughout the year. To them, I extend my sincere thanks and congratulations.
Balancing duties and responsibilities was made that much easier through the good work and professionalism of the Institute’s staff. I admire their efforts and dedication to TEI, their loyalty to the membership, and their desire to make TEI the best it can be.
I have richly enjoyed the opportunity to serve, and I look forward to being of continuing service in the years ahead.
TEI International President