Patricia Likogiannis 

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Teachers really do make a difference. Just ask Patricia Likogiannis how she got interested in tax as a career. “We had excellent tax instructors when I was an undergraduate majoring in math and accounting at the University of Waterloo,” she says. “Those teachers explained the structure, history, and reasons behind the rules in such an enthusiastic and engaging way. They provided us with research assignments that I truly enjoyed. I remember that those first tax classes really sparked my interest. After this, I decided to continue on with a tax specialty in the MAcc program, with those same instructors, and this cemented my interest and also gave me confidence to succeed in my first tax role at KPMG.”

Likogiannis, now tax director and treasurer at General Motors of Canada, worked previously at KPMG and Molson Canada, where she tackled many stretch assignments that at first left her feeling quite overwhelmed. “I was so fortunate to work for leaders who challenged me and had confidence in me early on in my career,” she says. “By successfully managing through each of these challenges, I built confidence in my abilities and developed a lifelong desire to be challenged and for continuous growth and development, which has led to a very rewarding career. I’ve learned to leave my ego at the door when I’m handed a challenge; people provide much better explanations, and you’re able to ask a lot more questions when you’re honest about your lack of knowledge in a certain area.”

Moving On to GM

How did she wind up at General Motors of Canada? “I joined General Motors of Canada because they offered a lot of opportunity for growth. Not only are there a lot of different areas to work in, but they move people around a lot to provide growth and development opportunities,” she explains. “I like to be challenged and to keep learning and growing, so I never thought that I would stay with one company for more than a few years. But I have stayed with GM for twenty years because of the opportunities that they have provided to me.”

According to Likogiannis, the most interesting tax issue she’s worked on at General Motors of Canada was a difficult valuation dispute with the Canada Revenue Agency. “I really enjoyed working through this issue because I learned so much about the business, and it involved a lot of creativity and resourcefulness,” she says. “The CRA had developed an aggressive valuation position that was based on incorrect assumptions. Given that valuations are such an inexact science, and the year at issue was many years past, it was difficult to disprove the CRA’s assumptions. Resolving this dispute involved using every resource that we could think of, leveraging numerous connections across the business, and getting very creative in our approach with the CRA. It was such a great learning experience, and we built many new relationships and enjoyed the entire process.”

The TEI Experience

Likogiannis appreciates her time as a TEI member. “Early in my career,” she notes, “I was able to really accelerate my learning curve and build networking skills by attending [TEI’s] Annual Canadian [Tax] Conference in Ottawa and the Toronto Chapter [professional development] sessions; there was such a diverse range of sessions to attend, and it was very easy to network. As my career has progressed, I’ve found that these sessions provide great insight into what to expect in the future in terms of domestic and international tax technical changes, government audit practices, tax planning, technology, and running a tax team. The network of tax professionals that I have met through TEI is invaluable for being able to reach out to discuss audit and technical issues. Joining the Canadian Income Tax Committee eight years ago was one of the best decisions I’ve made. By working closely with this amazing team of tax leaders from different industries across Canada, I’ve learned so much, and it has helped me to broaden my network even further. In addition, it has been so satisfying to advocate for change that is important to large corporations, and to see real change happening through those efforts.”

Despite her success in tax, Likogiannis doesn’t want to be typecast as just a tax person. “Since joining GM,” she explains, “I’ve spent seven years in four other nontax finance areas, and three years ago I added the role of treasurer to my existing role as tax director. The skills that we develop as tax professionals are very transferrable and can allow us to be successful in so many different roles. I’ve used those skills to be successful in my other finance assignments and have really enjoyed those assignments. I love working in tax, but I’m open to any growth opportunity where I can learn, make an impact on the business, and engage in creative problem-solving and innovation.”

Greatest Accomplishment

Her greatest accomplishments involve family. “My greatest achievement, and I’m still working on it, is raising two wonderful kids with my husband. It’s challenging to maintain balance when you’ve got two busy kids who have completely different interests, along with a very demanding career. We’ve had no free time for almost eighteen years, but it is so worth it when I see the healthy, happy teenagers that we have raised, and I’m so proud that they are such nice kids. It’s my greatest achievement, because I can’t think of anything else that has been so hard and yet so rewarding.”

The Great Outdoors

When not immersed in tax issues, Likogiannis enjoys spending all of her free time with her family, enjoying the outdoors whenever possible. “When we get a break from all of our kids’ activities, I really love to play games with the kids, head to the beach, and spend time boating, fishing, and swimming at a cottage. My favorite way to unwind is to walk in the woods, read a book on the porch, or do some gardening.” 

Things to Know About Patricia Likogiannis

Title: Tax Director and Treasurer
Organization: General Motors of Canada
TEI Chapter: Toronto, Ontario
Education: BMath in chartered professional accountancy and MAcc, University of Waterloo
Affiliations: TEI, CPA Canada
Birthplace: Port Hope, Ontario
Hobbies: Spending time outdoors—walking, swimming, fishing, reading, and gardening

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