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30 Best CEOs of the Year 2022

‘We Continue to Transform how VAT Compliance and Recovery are Managed on a Global Basis’: Catherine Quirke, CEO of Taxback International


“We have over 25 years of experience in the very niche area of International Tax, so we are always confident that we can provide the best solutions and solve the most complex problems.”

It’s imperative to have the right people leading and fostering a company like Taxback International (TBI) which has an impressive global client base. Catherine Quirke, who serves as the company's Chief Executive Officer, is one such leader who is at the forefront in driving global business growth and market share. Catherine spent 20 years working with global technology and fintech companies, after which she joined Taxback International, an entrepreneurial company, transforming how VAT compliance and recovery is managed on a global basis in 2013. The company specializes in Value Added Tax (VAT) compliance and VAT reclaim.

Catherine Quirke, CEO of Taxback International, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. What's your story? And tell us what motivated you to establish Taxback International?

I joined Taxback International (TBI), part of CluneTech, in May 2013, having spent over 20 years working internationally in the areas of business development, marketing, and operations for global technology organizations. At the time, TBI was already a well-established business with an impressive global client base. However, many of our processes were manual and time-consuming around auditing and compliance. We quickly realized that to grow our market share and stay ahead of the competition, we needed to develop technology and bring the industry to the next level.

We started by developing a fully automated VAT reclaim solution to cater to global businesses, a market first. More recently, we have developed a fully automated end-to-end VAT compliance platform, Comply, again a market first. I truly believe that for an organization to flourish, especially in today's fast-changing environment, you need to embrace technology, new ideas and be open to constant change and innovation. This is core to everything we stand for.

Today, our global client list includes almost all the Fortune 500 companies (Google, Tesla, Facebook, Twitter, IBM, etc.). Our innovative technology enables the real-time processing of over 10 billion transactions across 180 countries in multiple languages for more than 12,000 businesses. We continue to transform how VAT compliance and recovery are managed on a global basis.

Q. Trust is one of the most important currencies of leadership that requires authenticity and consistency to maintain. What's your take on this?

Yes, I fully agree. This is a critical component of leadership. If you don't have trust, transparency, and authenticity, then you cannot expect to gain respect, whether it be internally in your own business or externally with the organizations you work with.

For example, I am a firm believer that the best way to guide talented employees is not through micromanagement but rather by giving them the tools they need and trusting them to explore, make mistakes, and learn. This core philosophy is why TBI can succeed at the highest level. As a leader, I believe that trust empowers those around you to work better together and share their best ideas.

Q. Who do you look up to and why?

Terry Clune, founder, and Chairman of CluneTech. Terry's entrepreneurship is truly inspiring, having founded seven successful businesses within CluneTech, including Taxback International. His leadership, inclusiveness, passion for winning, and record of success are the key driving forces behind CluneTech. He has a knack for identifying key talent and giving them the resources and freedom to truly excel - empowering everyone to be their very best. The CluneTech Group actively promotes equality by ensuring everyone can enjoy the same opportunities, responsibilities, and rewards.

Q. Let's talk about Taxback some more. What can you tell us about the technology platform the company has in place? And how does it enable real-time processing of transactions worth billions of dollars?

Comply is a revolutionary platform, transforming VAT compliance workflows and eliminating non-compliant reporting. Comply gives global businesses full visibility and control of their total VAT obligations in one secure platform. Comply automates the preparation, validation, and submission of VAT returns and associated filings to the relevant tax offices in all jurisdictions.

Using fully regulated, embedded payments technology, Comply allows companies to complete the process by handling the cross-border tax office payments in real-time, ensuring no more late payments. The advanced, real-time analytics dashboard provides deep insights around forecasting, reporting, refunds due, and payment liabilities.

Robust data models allow businesses to inspect inconsistencies and provide detailed threading and predictive insights. We use advanced computer vision, machine learning algorithms to extract, categorize and augment the data from your invoice images with your transaction data. Comply represents a revolution in VAT technology built on decades of expertise.

Q. Serving Fortune 500 companies is a terrific feat. With that said, what makes Taxback International unique?

Innovation is core to everything we do at TBI. We are immensely proud of the technological advances we have achieved over the years, particularly our recent launch of Comply. However, what makes us truly unique within the industry we work in would be our core desire to solve our client's problems. We don't see ourselves as a mere supplier to our clients; we partner with them to understand their unique problems and work with them to develop solutions specific to their needs. We have over 25 years of experience in the very niche area of International Tax, so we are always confident that we can provide the best solutions and solve the most complex problems. Our client care team is world-class, which is why we have retained such a large and diverse client base over this period of time.

Ultimately, what sets TBI apart is the combination of our market agility, focus on technology and client-focused expert guidance.

Q. What new endeavors is your company currently undertaking?

We continue to expand our sales and marketing reach globally, opening new offices throughout Europe, the US, and APAC.

We have a huge roadmap of ideas to continually enhance and improve our platforms, technology, and overall solutions, so we see this as a continuing endeavor – we are never finished!

Another new area we have launched into from September this year is our ELEVATE program. ELEVATE is an innovative digital program that TBI has designed exclusively for our clients. It is a global, interactive community for VAT professionals to network, share insights and collaborate. The ELEVATE program consists of twice-yearly gatherings, with key industry figures speaking on current issues. The direction of the program is dictated by hot topics, changes, and problems facing Indirect Tax professionals at any given time. It's a VAT platform created by VAT experts for VAT experts.

Q. How do you plan to transform your company into a future that is unfolding before you?

As mentioned above, Innovation is one of our core values, and as such, we continually strive to identify critical changing factors that create the optimal environment for success. This includes identifying key talent that helps drive our innovation. With a passion for success and a deep understanding of the problems that our clients face now and into the future, this sets us up for success and will continue to significantly accelerate our growth in the years to come.

“Our innovative technology enables the real-time processing of over 10 billion transactions across 180 countries in multiple languages for more than 12,000 businesses.”