Gregory Viggiano.

Position::AP Moller-Maersk Group tax planning senior director - Interview

What on earth could the late 1960s television show The Green Hornet have to do with tax planning at the AP Moller-Maersk Group? Let's let Gregory Viggiano, the company's senior director of tax planning, explain it in his own words: "When I was five, I was a fan of the Green Hornet TV show. I wanted to buy the Corgi Cars version of [Green Hornet alter ego] Britt Reid's 'Black Beauty.' It was four dollars, and I saved up my pennies to buy it. My mother told me I'd need twenty cents more for sales tax, but I couldn't wait to save that much more. Mom was great to pay the sales tax; I loved the car (it shot missiles and more), and that set me on the path to thinking about taxes--the 'how' and the 'why' behind them."

And that led to the University of Richmond and the Georgetown University Law Center, and stints at law and accounting firms prior to coming to Maersk in New Jersey. "I got a great grounding in tax law and principles and I learned that a high level of care is required in analyzing any tax problem, because the law is complex, and that the answer can depend on a client's specific factual situation," he notes. "And, ultimately, we are here to help our clients meet their business goals. Hence today I try to know my clients' businesses well, work hard to establish the facts and law affecting the advice they need, [and] crafting that advice with care and good judgment, in a comprehensible manner, all so they can achieve their objectives."

Maersk is a Fortune Global 500 firm, with operations in almost every country in the world. Maersk Line, its global container division, is the world's largest container shipping company, responsible for transporting food, clothing, electronics, and other products. "With its logistics and terminal affiliates, it is an incredibly complicated business--establishing routes, setting rates, balancing the staging of equipment--and we have many incredibly smart people working hard so the company succeeds," Viggiano explains. "We face a number of challenges, both short- and long-term, and the tax department plays its part in addressing them. There is always something new to work on, and our diverse, high-caliber colleagues inspire me to do my best as well."

Today, just as was true when he was five, Viggiano finds virtually any new area of tax fascinating. "I have been a generalist my whole career, and my job covers every aspect of tax--federal, state, income, sales and use, you name it. In the last several years...

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