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Rob Dhindsa

DNA of a Tax Leader

Rob Dhindsa headshotRob Dhindsa is Vice President, Income Tax at Rogers Communications Inc., a diversified Canadian telecommunications and media company.  Rob joined Rogers in 2001 and is responsible for income tax compliance, reporting, planning and risk management for the Rogers group of companies. Prior to joining Rogers, Rob was Director of Taxation at Cambridge Shopping Centres Limited and Senior Tax Manager at KPMG LLP. Rob is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario and serves on the CPA Canada Industry Tax Committee.  He is also a member of the Toronto Chapter of the Tax Executives Institute and serves on their Canadian Income Tax Committee.

VP Tax
Rogers

Have you always aspired to achieving a senior leadership role in Tax?
Like many tax professionals I started in Audit, and I seemed to have more aptitude for tax. I wanted to stay in public accounting on the tax side, and I became a Tax Senior before transferring from London to Toronto, and from public to industry, when an opportunity came up. I wanted to see what this life was like and it gave me different career path options. I’m happy with my career path – I’m always thinking about what’s next and what else I could be doing in this role.

What attributes/characteristics do believe are integral to the role?
Communicating is crucial. You have to be able to communicate up, down and sideways. If you can’t communicate with different people and roles then you won’t be able to combine knowledge and information to find solutions. Beyond just talking to people you need to be able to listen, assess needs and prioritize based on new information to find a business solution.

What is your advice to someone who is moving up the ranks in the field and wants to pursue a management/executive career?
Take ownership of your domain. Don’t try to pass issues on or up – when you find an issue own it and look for a solution so when you do have to communicate it then you have some options or answers. Some tax roles can be very transactional, but you can elevate them by thinking about how each task fits into the big picture and owning the results. Prove that you’re ready for a bigger role by showing initiative, coming up with new ideas. The people who have drive and motivation to go above and beyond will stand out, no matter what level they’re at.

How important is it to be exposed to all areas of the business?
It’s important to understand how and where the business is going. You don’t need to be an expert in the product or marketing, but understand where your responsibilities fit and know what impact you’re having on the business.  For me coming to Rogers there was a learning curve in joining a company that’s very transaction driven. I had to understand how tax fit into that, and how I could grow with the company.

What is the one thing you have to have to be a Tax Leader in your opinion?
The ability to identify, understand, and communicate issues is critical for success. If you’re missing any one of those pieces then you will struggle to solve problems and make decisions.

In your opinion, how important is networking and social media for tax professionals?
Networking is pretty important, especially early in your career. I haven’t done as much as I should, but I would definitely recommend it to those starting out in the function. I’m a TEI member and I’m on the income tax committee which I’ve found very valuable for networking. Social media is becoming increasingly important for getting your name out, and it’s a good way of finding peers with a similar background.

Compared to 5 or 10 years ago, in your opinion how would you say your role has evolved?
The tax environment has changed quite a bit. Now there is more focus on disclosure, corporate responsibility and how we can improve the brand. Being able to connect those pieces to the tax role is increasingly important.

Is there anything that the next generation should know?
I recommend staying in public accounting as long as you can before moving into industry, at least to senior manager. This will give you the strong background and expertise that brings the right opportunities for growth, and sets you up to succeed when you do transition.

What advice would you give to the next generation of professionals aspiring to become a Tax leader?
You should always be developing yourself. No one has all the skills or answers so no matter what stage you’re at, look for where you can improve, what options are available to you. This might be something technical like a designation, or it could be working on your public speaking skills through Toastmasters, or getting a mentor who can help guide your professional development. The day you think you’re done learning is the day your career growth ends.