Jennifer Bowers.

PositionFortive Corporation vice president

When Jennifer Bowers was in eighth grade, her math teacher had students complete US tax returns for a variety of taxpayers using Forms 1040-EZ, 1040-A, and 1040. "The examples were simple," she says, "but I remember thinking I could do that and determined I would need to become a CPA. Imagine my surprise when I learned that a CPA is far more than a person who is allowed to sign as the preparer of returns for other taxpayers. Also, my career in tax has been absolutely nothing like I anticipated and about a thousand times better than I could have imagined."

Bowers, who is now vice president, tax, at Fortive Corporation, was also previously at Starbucks, which, according to Bowers, "provided an excellent opportunity to grow with a company, both in my technical competence and leadership." The tax leaders during her tenure, she adds, enabled her to develop leadership skills, provided growth opportunities, and trusted both her judgment and her ability to learn from mistakes.

Compelling Opportunity to Lead

What attracted her to work for Fortive Corporation, an industrial technology conglomerate? "I have always been more interested in the people I work with versus the company I am attached to," Bowers says. Every job change was motivated by a strong desire to work for a particular person rather than a desire to leave her existing role. "Fortive was a spin-off of Danaher Corporation, so there was some ambiguity in what to expect," she explains. "However, Fortive had a compelling opportunity to lead a portion of the tax function at the core of its business growth, M&A. But what really sold the position was, one, the perceived relationship I would expect between tax and cross-functional leaders of the corporate team and, two, my desire to 'work for that person' who was hired as Fortive tax VP and has since retired. My gut instincts were accurate. The corporate leadership of Fortive is a relatively small organization for a Fortune 500 company, and I further developed both my leadership skills and technical acumen at an accelerated pace."

Complexity of the TCJA

The most interesting tax issue she's worked on at Fortive? "As with many tax professionals," she notes, "the implementation of [the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act] was interesting and complex. However, the volume of M&A transactions, both...

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