Jack McCullough, a Profile of Excellence

What makes a person a leader among leaders? We explore this in our series, Profiles of Excellence. We’re excited to premier this series by featuring Jack McCullough, author, keynote speaker, Forbes contributor, and a founder of two world-class organizations transforming the way CFOs network – thereby influencing how tax and other professionals will network – critical in our new all-digital environment.

Jack is continuously innovating and delivering high caliber products and services. Earlier career highlights include being a CFO and helping launch KPMG’s Global Technology Innovation Center in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2002, Jack cofounded MIT Sloan CFO Summit, a preeminent conference for CFOs. Four years later, Jack launched CFO Leadership Council (CFO LC) to provide nonpareil professional development and networking to financial executives. Last year, he parlayed insights collected from conversations with over 40 of the world’s foremost CFOs into Secrets of Rockstar CFOs.

With the economy spinning and conventional avenues for connecting upside-down, leaders are seeking solutions for guiding their company safely through the morass. CFO LC has been a beacon for singular networking and wisdom.

Why does this matter to a tax professional? What impacts a business often impacts its taxes. To competently advise our companies, we (tax professionals) must understand the financial and operational aspects of the business as these flow into the tax results. So, the concerns of a CFO will often be the concerns of tax executives. CFO LC has raised the bar on and set the trend for how networking and knowledge in finance, an overarching field, is delivered.

Take, for example, CFO LC’s Masterclass Keynote Series (MKS), five 90-minute courses held over a five-week period in May and June. When the pandemic closed the doors on in-person events, CFO LC masterfully pivoted from its in-person CFO Week to offering the virtual MKS, delivering in a scientific framework expertise on managing through catastrophic events from finance and research luminaries such as Elaine Paul, CFO of Amazon Studios, Christine Komola, former CFO of Staples, Steve Priest, CFO of JetBlue, Court Chilton, Senior Lecturer, Work and Organization Studies at MIT Sloan School of Management, and Renee Richardson Gosline, Senior Lecturer, Management Science Group at MIT Sloan School of Management.

More TED-like than standard webinars, MKS elevated subjects of surviving and thriving during an economic downturn by combining the science behind cultivating success with real life examples, conveying meaningful, actionable information to leaders. Addressing work styles, John Carrier, Senior Lecturer, System Dynamics Group at MIT Sloan School of Management and Managing Director of 532 Partners, opened the second episode by framing the discussion around behavior being a function of the people and system in which they find themselves, sharing keys to monitoring and measuring success, and from recent experiences of dignitaries in finance such as Amrita Ahuja, CFO of Square, and Elis Costa, CFO North America of Marsh & McLennan Companies to fill out the discussion. All the while, the audience of over 800 were participating in a live discussion through chat.

Professional organizations are more crucial when people are disconnected and unable to network through traditional methods. Leadership and volunteer positions in CFO LC are gateways to casually connect with executives, venture capitalists, and subject matter experts. This may explain why, even though financial executives are notoriously busy, more than 250 have scheduled time to volunteer on a committee or in programming at CFO LC.

In addition to leading and inventing, Jack finds time to speak, contribute to Forbes, and mentor.

Hear Jack’s insights on cultivating excellence in leadership and receive a free digital copy of his book at our upcoming five-week conference opening October 19, 2020.


Experience unrivaled networking and professional development at TaxForward (tax professionals) or Future Tax Leaders (tax students) by joining its leadership, volunteering, or becoming a member. Contact Info@TaxForward.org to learn more.

Ashby Walters is Executive Director and cofounder of TaxForward and Future Tax Leaders. She has served as head of or leader in tax for Peet’s Coffee, Inc., Quizno’s, Staples, Dish Network, and other companies. Over her 20-plus year career, Ashby has helped organizations from Fortune 200 companies to start-ups, save more than $200 million in cash taxes, millions in G&A, and thousands of production hours collectively.

Time to Lead

We, as tax professionals, must not only respond to protect ourselves personally, but to lead in rebuilding and then strengthening the infrastructure of our businesses and, through them, our economy.

TaxForward.org

COVID-19 has significantly altered our lives – including stay at home rules that, in some states, extend into June. The view of our altered landscape extends far into the future. 9/11 permanently moved us to remote servers, cloud computing, and advanced physical and virtual security. The Great Depression changed the way people viewed and used money and their relationship with government.

Our new normal will be shaped by this virus, even when we are allowed out of our homes and back to recognizable routines. Seemingly invincible titans and industries may fall; new hegemons and industries will rise. Our expectations of and the way we interact with the government, the ways in which we do business, and how we engage socially have all been impacted. Due to the size of the financial impact, it is predicted our government will need to invest many trillions of dollars to bring us out of this financial crisis. Our interactions with foreign governments (markets for both selling and purchasing) will change. Something as simple as how we look at shopping has already changed.

Every crisis we have ever suffered has had the benefit of educating us and helping us to become better at our response and our practices. Wars (as this current crisis has been referred to time and again) bring us medical advancements and prove to us we can martial our resources and people to accomplish great things. Natural disasters (as COVID-19 is) make us aware of our shortcomings in planning and preparedness. Financial disasters make us realize what we lack in skills and security and we adjust. Well, we’re in the penultimate of learning experiences now – financial and natural disasters coming together in a war that we must win.

We, as tax professionals, must not only respond to protect ourselves personally, but to lead in rebuilding and then strengthening the infrastructure of our businesses and, through them, our economy. This crisis has forced us to ask a lot of questions about safety nets, preparedness, leadership and how we want to build our future. It is not a matter of getting back to normal. Normal is gone. We need to build our new normal and what that is…is up to us. In a way that is exciting, just as it is daunting. You will notice we’re exploring subjects that are not clearly connected to tax. Our goal in exploring these subjects is to provide you with information that will help you navigate uncharted waters that are changing at a rapid clip.

Solutions to COVID-19 tax and financial concerns

COVID-19 related tax news

Relief from COVID-19


Ashby Walters is Executive Director and cofounder of TaxForward and Future Tax Leaders. She has served as head of or leader in tax for Peet’s Coffee, Inc., Quizno’s, Staples, Dish Network, and other companies. Over her 20-plus year career, Ashby has helped organizations from Fortune 200 companies to start-ups, save more than $200 million in cash taxes, millions in G&A, and thousands of production hours collectively.