Spotlight on Vice President of Strategy Christiaan van der Valk
Our Spotlight series shines a light on the careers and lives of tax professionals around the world. This week’s spotlight is on Christiaan van der Valk, vice president of strategy and regulation at Sovos.
Van der Valk conducts research on current market trends and tax law, determines business strategies and when to buy, build or partner to create solutions that respond to emerging trends. He is an internationally recognized voice on e-commerce strategy, law, policy, best practices and trade issues and was elected the World Leader of the World Economic Forum for Tomorrow in 2000. He also holds leadership positions long-time member of the International Chamber of Commerce. (ICC) and the European Association of Electronic Invoicing Service Providers (EESPA).
What is your official title and what does it mean? I’m vice-president, strategy and regulation. The strategy part means that I help define longer term game plans for our VAT business. I also oversee our VAT regulatory and government affairs analysis activities, which are critical to both the continued execution (compliance of our global customer base) and the long-term value and success of our offering. .
Free time: book, audiobook or podcast? Delivered.
Taxation is a huge subject. What is your particular area of interest? Innovation. I generally believe that governments, citizens and businesses have a unique opportunity to remove friction from the system for the benefit of all with today’s technology. The challenge is to negotiate a whole new way of interacting between complex ecosystems that are ingrained in their habits and naturally short-sighted. I love working to change this equation, both through software solutions and in political roles.
What’s the last movie or series that you watched and liked (DVD, Netflix or at the movies)? “The Big Lebowski” —probably for the 100th time. On Netflix.
What college did you attend and what did you study? I studied law at Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Go to pickup: Coffee or tea? I’m a coffee fanatic and snobbish, but I love a nice cup of tea later in the day.
What’s the best tax or financial advice someone has ever given you? Taking risk is always better than avoiding risk in the long run. This is my father’s advice, and it has been invaluable so far.
If you weren’t in the tax business, what would your dream job be? The best portrait painter in the world.
If you had the opportunity to make a change in the tax world – an extra credit, an unauthorized deduction, whatever – what would it be? In any tax code in the world, administrative burdens associated with reporting and keeping records should be abolished; data necessary for tax compliance should automatically and transparently, but in a controlled manner and with appropriate safeguards, be communicated to government from commercial systems.
Favorite food, snack or candy during tax season (or other busy time)? Kofta sandwich.
What new or tax measure has had the most impact on your firm or your clients over the past year? France announced an ambitious change to introduce continuous transaction controls. The second largest EU member state to make this move was the missing piece of a global domino effect which, if we play our cards right, could solve a friction problem as old as humanity.
If you got a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? We are looking for a nicer house in our town – I would probably use it to pay transaction taxes.
You can find van der Valk on Linked to.
You can find out more about van der Valk’s company, Sovos, at their website.
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