Interview with the new CIT Director

The corporate income tax direct of VAT IT South Africa - Nadia van Aswegen
Nadia van Aswegen - Corporate Income Tax Director

VAT IT SA would like to introduce Nadia van Aswegen as the newly appointed Corporate Tax Director. Nadia is a qualified Chartered Accounted that gained invaluable experience at PwC over the past twelve years and she brings to VAT IT SA an excellent work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit, and determination to excel the corporate tax division. We spoke to Nadia to get to know her better and to understand her ambitions for the new role at VAT IT SA.

1. Tell us about yourself and your career to date.

From an early age I knew that I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a Chartered Accountant. It was however only when I started serving my SAICA training programme that I realised how much I enjoy working with people.

I was recognised twice at my previous employer for outstanding client service and leadership skills. It was an honour to be selected as one of fifty individuals nationally to receive an Experience Award for going the extra mile in serving clients and managing people. I recently received a second award for the individual who best lived out the value of ‘Care’ in the tax department.

After completing my SAICA articles, I joined the Corporate International Tax department at my previous employer where I gained valuable experience during the past nine years. I had the opportunity to audit and advise several multi-national companies, top JSE listed and mid-tier companies, and obtained experience across a variety of industries including the construction, healthcare, FMCG, and the entertainment and media industry. My experience includes amongst others being involved in due diligence assignments, managing income tax compliance, income tax audits, the drafting of tax opinions as well as voluntary disclosure applications and dispute resolution.

I am excited about my decision to join VAT IT SA and the value I can offer our clients in managing their tax affairs. One of my focus areas would be to assist our clients in transforming their tax function to adapt to the rapidly evolving tax landscape. This includes the use of technology such as data analytics and visualisation tools to improve transparency and showcase the value that a tax function brings to an organisation.

2. What has been some powerful lessons you learned over the last 12 years at your previous employer?

During my career, I had the opportunity to work alongside some of the most seasoned tax professionals this country has to offer. Collaborating with these individuals allowed me to gain valuable experience in being a trusted tax advisor, establishing long lasting relationships with clients and being a mentor and coach to my fellow colleagues. I learned numerous valuable lessons during my career but two that stand out above the others are highlighted below:

Become an intentional learner - One of the most important lessons that I learned during my career is that you need to invest time in continuously developing new skills to keep abreast with changes in the tax landscape and digitalisation thereof. There is a well-known quote by Alvin Toffler that says, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and re-learn”. To maintain a thriving career in today’s global economy, we need to have a growth mindset as the skills and knowledge you have today will not be enough to solve the problems of tomorrow.

We also live in an era where the fourth industrial revolution brings about unprecedented technological change. There are immense opportunities to improve the way in which we do business and manage our tax affairs, and it is imperative that we intentionally invest time in upskilling ourselves to harness modern technology.

Be authentic and embrace your unique strengths - I am passionate about the ability to express oneself at work and to foster a culture of authenticity. When there is alignment between our internal self and our outward behaviour, we start to feel that we are living out our values and perspectives which leads to a greater sense of wellbeing. We end up building meaningful relationships at work and are more engaged in our jobs.

One of my favourite Ted Talks is from Simon Sinek that delves into the benefits of creating circles of safety. He indicates that when we create environments in which people feel like they belong, the result is trust and collaboration. Ultimately realizing where your strengths and passions lie and embracing it, enables you to craft a career where you will be motivated, confident, and produce high-quality results.

3. What drew you to VAT IT SA?

Initially my entrepreneurial spirit was kindled when the opportunity to head the Corporate Tax department at VAT IT SA came about. I also knew it was an excellent opportunity to join forces with a company that is known for its client service and innovative solutions.

My interaction with the team of professionals at VAT IT SA has also been exceptional from the start. They are a close-knit team who are immensely respected in the tax industry and who shares a passion for excellence.

4. Name some challenges corporate taxpayers currently experience and how the VAT IT SA Corporate Tax team can assist in resolving these challenges.

Risks relating to non-compliance - The increased sophistication of business dealings and digitisation of the world economy has led to inherently complex tax legislation that changes on a frequent basis. There is always a risk that a taxpayer might inadvertently misinterpret the tax legislation or be unaware of amendments to the tax legislation which could lead to errors in tax filings. Revenue authorities are also increasingly making use of data driven insights and artificial intelligence to identify non-compliance and tax evasion. The risk of reputational damage and significant monetary costs because of non-compliance should be managed proactively by taxpayers.

Our dedicated team of specialists at VAT IT SA Corporate Tax are at the forefront of all legislative and regulatory requirements and we can support our clients in their undertaking to be tax compliant organisations. We commit to partnering with our clients to ensure that their exposure to penalties and interest is minimised ant that their tax obligations are met timeously and accurately.

Managing tax affairs efficiently - The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic has shown many businesses struggling to recover to pre-pandemic levels. In the current corporate climate, it is more important than ever to re-establish shareholder value and to arrange your tax affairs as effectively and efficiently as possible. At VAT IT SA we perform tax benefit reviews and provide our clients with formal opinions regarding the correct income tax treatment of transactions. We can also assess the commercial goals of corporate transactions and assist clients in structuring these transactions in a tax efficient manner.

5. What do you believe are factors that make a business successful? I believe that some of the key factors making a business successful in the current economic environment are the following:

· Client experience

The foundation of every business is the quality of the goods or services that you provide, and your client’s experience. Cultivating trust and building meaningful relationships with clients is certainly aspects of focus when building a successful enterprise.

· Creativity and Innovation

The current industrial revolutions bring about change and a vast number of business opportunities. Businesses must navigate change at a fast pace and in a creative and innovative manner to remain competitive. To prosper, businesses should also embrace technological advancements in an innovative way to enhance its service offering and bring about efficiencies in the way it conducts its business.

· Clear purpose

It is becoming increasingly important for companies to establish its societal purpose beyond profit-making. The future of our people and our planet is a focus globally and it is impacting the way in which stakeholders decide to engage with companies. Having a clear purpose which includes an ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’ strategy is essential to make a business successful.

6. What is your life motto or quote that you live by?

“Strive not to be a success but to be of value” - Albert Einstein

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