Kelvin Jeffrey Ramirez, CPA, president of TEI’s San Francisco Chapter and senior director of tax at Informatica, has a game plan for opening up communication and interaction within the chapter and beyond.
“What’s top of mind is returning to in-person meetings. During COVID, we stayed in touch via Zoom, but there was the loss of personal networking that is so valued by TEI,” he says. Ramirez, who has been on the chapter’s board for several years, adds that it’s energizing to resume a full schedule after the lull of the last three years. “We can now say, ‘Here are the events. These are the dates. These are the presenters. These are our topics.’ It feels good to revisit the venues that we used, see some new faces, feel some excitement. I’ve always thought that it was kind of funny to equate tax with excitement and meetings, but I think that’s what it’s about.”
Already the chapter is making plans to revive a flagship event with the Internal Revenue Service. “We’re planning a larger program in conjunction with TEI’s Silicon Valley Chapter, so it’ll be one day in one place, another day in another. I think building events centered on connections again, especially with the IRS, is really important,” Ramirez says.
The Shift to Informatica
Ramirez explains that he was previously employed with Ernst & Young (EY) but decided nine years ago to give Informatica a try. He notes that the company’s interactions are mainly business-to-business. “The move to the cloud is the emphasis now, essentially defining us as an enterprise cloud data management company. We offer a variety of services, and we work with a lot of well-known corporations, including Amazon and Salesforce,” he says.
At EY, he primarily focused on income tax provision audits, often coordinating with tax specialists and collaborating with nontax auditors to manage risk. “One of the things you learn at a large CPA firm is that you must work with a variety of people and groups and manage people up and down the chain,” he explains. “Maybe my experience was unique, but I was more of a generalist. I ended up doing a lot of provisions, and that’s what really served me the most and got me into Informatica.”
He adds that he maintains and values the relationships he built at EY. “Like my work there, the team is what keeps me at Informatica,” he says. “It’s taken time to build these relationships, so it’s hard for me to think about leaving. You build a bond with others. I’ve also been lucky enough to have good bosses at Informatica who have looked out for me. I ended up getting into the culture and liking it.”
He says that he will continue to build his team, take on more responsibilities, have even more significant interactions with senior management, and continue to immerse himself in his role.
Ramirez also points out that there’s so much change in tax, both internationally and in the United States. Fundamental change is also occurring within companies. “Traditionally, people thought about tax as a linear process; you have these milestones, and it’s a closed-book type of thing. Looking at the future and emerging tools, you’ve got to think of the tax function as more of an integrated cycle. It’s changing the old model of how tax departments function,” he says. “I look forward to challenging someone and saying, ‘Well, forget what we did last year. Here’s where we want to end up. How would you do it? How would you build it?’ I think with that challenge—and seeing people wrestle with it and eventually collaborate—you’ll end up with something better.”
Outside of work, Ramirez has a newfound appreciation for getting closer to his family and the need to strike a balance between work and his personal life. “I lost my brother two years ago. One thing that I’ve learned from that heartbreak is that you have to face it,” he says.
“Admittedly, I haven’t been able to really tackle time well,” he adds. “Sometimes, I’m still prone to thinking that I won’t do something because I think I could do it later when I have more time, but you have to prioritize. You might not be able to do it all, but what do you want to do? I also know I need to better integrate. For example, I’m passionate about education—I have four degrees. My goal is to line up that curiosity, that wanting to learn more, with what I do, so I’m trying to expand a little bit. But I think it’s just aligning—it doesn’t have to wake you up every morning but helps you to recognize what gets you going during the week.”
Ramirez speaks of how he recently found his old backpack and the backpacking gear that belonged to his brother. “It occurred to me that, after college, I stopped exploring the outdoors. Revisiting this experience will get me closer to something, really go back out there. Maybe just jogging, or taking a hike with friends, reminding me that I used to trail run. Realizing that this is fun, to get out and breathe the fresh air.
“That’s what I’m striving for,” he adds. “Otherwise, work will consume you. It’s about finding your balance and reexamining what’s important to you. That’s the place I’m trying to get to.”