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Shirley Grimmett: Coordinating a Seamless Merger Between Technology and Tax

Shirley_grimmettSay hello to Shirley Grimmett.  She is not only gifted in the language of tax, but she also speaks code.   Not just the Internal Revenue Code, but computer code as well.  Yes, you got it, Shirley is a Tax Attorney who was a skilled programmer and systems analyst before she started her tax career.  This combination has proven to be  unique and extremely valuable in building her career.


Shirley is currently the Director of Tax at A&E Television Networks.  In this role, she is responsible for providing advice and counsel regarding state and local indirect tax compliance issues, managing state and local tax audits, and partnering with other organizations to address and resolve day to day issues. 


Very early in her career, while working at Ford motor company as a programmer, Shirley designed and wrote a computer programming  system that provided dealership personnel with access to payroll, accounting and tax information from the mainframe.  However, it wasn’t until Shirley graduated from law school a few years later that she decided to enter into a career in tax full-time.  After graduating, she started her career working at AT&T in the Tax Department focusing on several tax areas in State and Local Tax (SALT). 


From there, Shirley developed a wealth of SALT experience as a tax professional working at RCN, Reynolds American Inc., Tax Executives Institute Inc., and PwC - all of which aptly prepared her for her current role at A&E. 


What is the most interesting part of your job?

I enjoy a lot of things about my job, but what I find most interesting is doing the research on a tax issue, applying the legal concepts to the business problem that we are dealing with at the time and coming up with a solution.


What is the most challenging part of your job?

As with any company, it is always a challenge, as a new hire, learning who to go to regarding a specific problem or to get specific information.However, this gets  easier as you get to know people. 


Where do you see yourself five to ten years from now?

I enjoy my current job so I would hope that I would be better at what I am doing now.  At this stage in my career, I am more interested in mastering my craft than making any dramatic career moves. 


What advice would you give to a young professional or law student who is interested in pursing a career in tax?

I would suggest that a potential candidate to the tax field start early on in their studies taking accounting and tax courses where possible.  Obtaining a CPA as well as a law degree is a perfect combination for anyone considering a career in tax.  If your school does not offer these tax and/or accounting courses , consider a continuing education course at a local college or university or professional accounting organization.  

What books are you reading now?

The Old Testament of the Bible; The “Twilight Saga” books by Stephanie Meyers; and Pulitzer Prize winner, “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. 


What person in history, who is no longer living, would you want to have dinner with?

Josephine Baker.  Although I haven’t read the book about her life, I’ve watched the movie about her life,  many times.  I think that she was born before her time.  Based on what I know about her from the media, I don’t think that she was really appreciated.  I also get the sense that she was always searching for something that she did not realize that she had.  I admire her because she worked very hard and until she was quite advanced in age.  But, I would like to have dinner with her so I could ask her what she was searching for.  It would be nice to get more insight into who she was as a person and not just a product.


Describe yourself in three words or less.

Ambitious.  Intelligent.  Hard-worker.  If you have space, you can also add kind, considerate, strong drive and determined (smile).  


Describe your ideal vacation.

On a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. 


If you were stranded on a dessert island, what one thing would you bring with you?

My cell phone (smile).


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