Wayne Hamilton’s birth home is located in the beautiful town of Mandeville, in the parish of Manchester in Jamaica, West Indies. His undergraduate alma mater is Andrews University in scenic Berrien Springs, Michigan. His J.D. degree was earned in North Carolina from the historic campus of North Carolina Central University. His LL.M in tax, comes from the prestigious University of Florida, College of Law. Wayne’s academic and tax career have allowed him to have the wonderful experience of traveling and living in many places since emigrating from Jamaica to the United States. But, he and his family have finally settled in and now call Rogers, Arkansas home.
Arkansas is also where Wayne currently serves as the Senior Director of the federal income tax controversy group for Walmart. In this role, he regularly interacts with the IRS to handle both domestic and international tax issues on behalf of Walmart.
Wayne has spent most of his legal career in tax: working for the IRS District Counsel, General Motors Corporation, JM Family Enterprises, and now Walmart. However, there was a period of time where he worked on the business side of a company in order to get comfortable with how decisions were made outside of the tax world. This experience strengthened his professional advisory skills and prepared him with a broader perspective and understanding of the business story behind a company’s strategic vision. It was extremely valuable when he finally returned to tax practice at Walmart.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
Understanding on a day-to-day basis how impactful a decision around tax can be on business operations. Although tax is not the driver of business, it is a major part of the overall framework.
What advice would you give to a law student or new lawyer who is interested in pursuing a career in tax?
First, seek out a mentor. I have had some great mentors throughout my academic and professional career. In fact, I was able to transition into progressively rewarding roles in my career because of mentoring.
Second, as a new lawyer you should seek an opportunity for broad based exposure to tax. Places like the IRS, Treasury or a major accounting firm can provide you with this experience.
Third, if you are really serious about tax, get an LL.M or other advanced tax degree. Twenty years ago advanced degrees in tax were a rarity. That’s not the case anymore. In 2011, you are competing against a lot of other new lawyers that have made the commitment and sacrifice to earn one.
What would you be doing now if you didn’t become a lawyer?
I would probably be a medical doctor. Until my final year of undergraduate studies, I was convinced that I was going to medical school. Something happened that year that sparked my interest in a career in business. Once I committed to move in this direction I began to think about what my next step should be. I realized early on that a law degree would be advantageous wherever I ended up. So, I applied to law school without the expectation of practicing when I was done. I simply knew I wanted to be in business in some capacity. Things have a way of working out. It’s been almost 21 years since I graduated and became an attorney.
Describe yourself in three words or less?
Focused. Diligent. Team player. I hope four words are ok? (laugh).
Describe your perfect vacation?
A little beach in a little city.
If you could have dinner with one person (no longer living) who would it be? Why?
George Washington Carver because of his tenacity and commitment to his craft. He was an agricultural chemist who discovered over three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. I would want him to tell me what it was that allowed him to remain so focused.
What book(s) are you reading now?
I’m reading two books.
(1) Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, by David Platt. It delivers a powerful picture of how the values of many churches in America today are influenced by values rooted in the "American Dream"; and
(2) The China Study, by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. It examines the relationship between the consumption of animal products and illnesses such as cancers of breast, prostate, and large bowel, diabetes, and heart disease.
Are there any specific charitable ventures or organizations that you support?
Yes. A few. But the one that I am most proud of is United Hands. My family recently participated in a medical mission trip to Jamaica with 91 volunteers from the US, UK and South Africa. The team provided dental, optical, chiropractic, gynecological, and pediatric care to locals.
I love these mission trips. I use them as an opportunity to teach my daughter about how to give back.
Written by Marsha Henry