“Tax professionals are often stereotyped, but that’s not today’s industry. It’s exciting! It has a vibrancy I’m not sure our profession has seen before. The new generation of tax professionals are bringing with them an energy that I hope is contagious.” That’s the strong voice of Kris Rogers, director of tax at Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. and co-chair of Tax Executive Institute’s Emerging Tax Professionals Subcommittee. Rogers is the magazine’s second Emerging Leaders profile.
Rogers carries that energy to her job at Love’s. “I also know the decisions I’m making on a daily basis are truly influencing the future of the company. I know I’m making a difference each day, which is important,” she says.
The biggest challenge for a corporate tax professional, according to Rogers, is making sure the organization sees tax as more than just a compliance function. “It’s a strategic piece of the puzzle. It’s helping your peers understand the bigger picture. I am very fortunate that Love’s leaders understand what an integral part of the business our profession plays. While there are still many challenges ahead, their understanding does help to make my job just a little easier,” she explains.
Another challenge: balancing work and family. “Now, younger professionals are looking for a work-life balance. No longer are individuals married to their jobs. They need more. They want careers and are driven, but need that time away from the office. It’s very important to them,” Rogers explains. “My career has always been important to me—but not at the expense of my family. In the public accounting sector, if I wanted to elevate my career and make partner, sacrifices were needed that I was not prepared to make. I have found my niche as a corporate tax professional, and I’ve learned [that] if you love what you do, then you can have it all!” Rogers says.
The main purpose of the Emerging Tax Professionals Subcommittee, according to Rogers, is to increase membership for the Institute and provide a focused forum for younger in-house professionals. “Our goal is to mentor and help the professional development of our future leaders so that they may carry the torch and are prepared for the challenges ahead. We’re confident that this new generation will help break the mold of the stereotypes that have plagued our industry for so many years,” she says.
“In the public accounting sector, if I wanted to elevate my career and make partner, sacrifices were needed that I was note prepared to make. I have found my niche as a corporate tax professional, and I’ve learned [that] if you love what you do, then you can have it all!”
‘Speed Dating with Executives’
The subcommittee has planned sessions at the Midyear Conference that will groom young tax professionals for the challenges ahead, according to Rogers. “We’re especially excited about our speed networking event—think of it as speed dating with executives. Not sure how to talk to the big boss? We’ll help!” she assures. But that is just the beginning: “We are still growing and researching the direction we would like to take this committee,” she says. “We want to ensure [that] we tailor upcoming events for the younger professional, which means focusing on technology. We are planning to develop ongoing sessions that meet the needs of this group, focusing both on community-building as well as technical development,” Rogers says.
Rogers says that TEIconnect will play an important part in communication and networking with this group. “TEIconnect is an underutilized tool. It’s perfect for the information-hungry newer generation, and we plan to promote its wonderful benefits. Not only is it a great networking tool, but it also offers us all an opportunity to collaborate in a way we never could before,” she says.
Name: Kristine Rogers, CPA
Title: Director of Tax
Company: Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc.
At current job since: May 2011
Prior company: Everest Operations Management LLC (2007–11); Grant Thornton LLP (1995–2007)
Education: B.S. in Accounting, University of Central Oklahoma
Birthplace: Eugene, Oregon
Key achievements: Received the Ray Ackerman Emerging Leaders Award from United Way (2014); assisted with development and rollout of TEI’s new Emerging In-House Tax Professionals Subcommittee (2014-current); founding member of University of Central Oklahoma’s Accounting Department Executive Advisory Board (2014–current); vice chair, United Way’s Tornado Relief Fund; vice chair, United Way Community Investment Committee; devoted wife and proud mother of three
Top goals: “I want to break the mold both professionally and personally. As a soft-spoken female in a typically male-dominated world, I’m determined to get the job done and play a leading role in our industry and in my community. I also want to be the best wife and mother I can be. I’ve said it before, but you can have it all: happy, healthy family; successful career; and community involvement.”
Hobbies: Spending time with family, watching her boys play football, watching college football (GO SOONERS!!), reading, skiing, rowing, and lake time
One interesting tidbit: “It has been almost a decade since we welcomed SeungKyu into our family from South Korea as a foreign exchange student. He was scheduled to bless our life for six months, but he never left. He is our adopted son, a part of our family, and we love him as our own.”