Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on Christiaan van der Valk, VP of Strategy and Regulatory at Sovos.
Van der Valk leads research into current trends in market and tax legislation, determines business strategies, and when to buy, build, or partner to create solutions that meet emerging trends. He is an internationally recognized voice on e-business strategy, law, policy, best practice, and commercial issues and was elected a World Economic Forum Global Leader for Tomorrow in 2000. He also holds long-standing leadership roles at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the European E-invoicing Service Providers Association (EESPA).
What’s your official title and what does it mean? I am vice president, Strategy and Regulatory. The strategy part means that I help define longer-term game plans for our VAT business. I also oversee our regulatory analysis and government affairs activities for VAT, which are pivotal both for ongoing execution—keeping our global customer base compliant—and the long-term value and success of our offering.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? Book.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? Innovation. I generally believe governments, citizens, and businesses have a unique opportunity to remove friction from the system to everyone’s benefit with today’s technology. The challenge is to broker a completely new way of interacting between complex ecosystems that are set in their ways and naturally short-sighted. I love working on changing that equation, both via software solutions and in policy roles.
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? “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 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? I am a coffee fanatic—and snob—but I love a good cuppa tea later in the day.
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? Risk-taking is always better than risk avoidance in the long run. It’s my father’s advice, and it has been valuable so far.
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? The world’s best portrait painter.
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world - an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever - what would it be? In any tax code around the world—administrative burdens around reporting and record-keeping should be abolished; data necessary for tax compliance should automatically and transparently, but in a controlled way and with the right safeguards, be communicated to the government from business systems.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season (or other busy time)? Kofta sandwich.
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? France announced an ambitious change to introduce continuous transaction controls. The EU’s second-largest member state making this move was the missing piece for a global domino effect that—if we play our cards right—could fix a friction problem that’s as old as humanity.
If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? We’re looking for a nicer house in our city – I’d probably use it to pay the transaction taxes.
You can find van der Valk on Linked In.
You can find out more about van der Valk’s company, Sovos, on their website.
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