Joanna Murphy, CEO of Sprintax and Taxback, poses for a professional photo.
Image: Taxback/Sprintax

How to stay curious and avoid complacency in fintech

27 May 2024

CEO of Taxback and its US counterpart Sprintax Joanna Murphy on the challenges and opportunities of tax-tech and a varied career.

The old adage ‘curiosity killed the cat’ is a bit of a misnomer. Rather, it should be, complacency kills the cat, as often complacency is a sign that we have become too comfortable. We are no longer seeking out new challenges or opportunities to grow. 

Joanna Murphy is the CEO of Taxback and its US counterpart Sprintax, a company specialising in tax-tech solutions. Born with an entrepreneurial mindset, Murphy has risen within the technology sector, carving out a place for herself and making a conscious effort to avoid complacency as she navigates the many challenges of an evolving sector.

“The market is ever evolving, so you can never get complacent. Government priorities change, tax laws change, markets change, consumers’ purchasing patterns change, and this will always be the case,” she told

Murphy’s foray into the technology sphere came later in life, but armed with a vision and an understanding of market needs, she realised that “business is business”, regardless of the sector. Her entrepreneurial aptitude, she found, could transcend industries and a chance meeting with CluneTech CEO Terry Clune would provide an opportunity in tech. CluneTech was named one of Ireland’s 2024 Best Workplaces in Tech by Great Place to Work.

Shared vision

Murphy cites this fortuitous run-in with Clune as “the catalyst for [her] transition to fintech”. Both of them shared a passion for “the future of Ireland”, noting how the small country consistently punches well above its weight.

Leading growth strategy in 2013, Murphy joined Connect Ireland, a development agency that promoted international investment in Ireland. After almost ten years, Connect Ireland closed, but Murphy knew the market still had room for a business model of this type, so, alongside Clune, she co-founded her “most passionate endeavour”, the Irish Diaspora Loan Fund (IDLF). 

“I am immensely proud of what we have managed to achieve there,” said Murphy. 

A career move in 2019 saw Murphy appointed CEO of Taxback and Sprintax where she was “tasked with leading the strategic direction, driving business expansion and delivering excellence”. 

She welcomes the challenges that have come because she is confident the company has “built a culture of adaptability” that can operate around industry defining events.

“In its almost thirty years of trading, Taxback has seen its fair share of challenges, be it navigating a recession or a global pandemic.” Though, as Murphy says, “there has never been a trough without a corresponding peak.” Where there is a challenge, she notes, “there will always be opportunity” and this philosophy underscores every business decision she makes. 

“We have a unique ability to spot opportunity in the very mundane. Mention the word ‘tax’ and immediately see people’s eyes glaze over, but open their eyes to the millions of euros in reliefs and credits that go unclaimed each year, both for individuals and organisations and you’ll soon win their attention back.”


Consumer behaviour has changed tremendously over the last thirty years. When Taxback was first established, it was a paper-business, with a “walk-in office and a team of people dedicated solely to answering the phone to customers”.

Now, consumer behaviour has “shifted”, Murphy says. “We want self-service, smart and responsive technology that helps us to do complex things, like filing a tax return, faster, without needing to ask for help.” To avoid becoming complacent, businesses need to act fast and invest in the latest in-demand, intuitive applications. 

Murphy believes that the technology industry is at a “pivotal intersection between human and artificial intelligence”. AI is transforming how we work by “automating traditional manual processes and streamlining repetitive tasks”. 

She expresses excitement for the future of AI and work, wondering “how we can exploit these new technologies for the benefit of businesses, colleagues and customers. Consider how many more great ideas will come to fruition when we get that time back?”

Murphy’s parting advice for those considering a career in tech is to “be curious” and find the people who don’t let themselves get stuck in a problem. 

“You won’t be expected to know everything on your first day, but if you are open to learning and open to listening, the knowledge and know-how will come. Also, surround yourself with positive, can-do people.  Anyone can identify a problem, those that can find a way to solve them are the people you should hitch your wagon to.”

Find out how emerging tech trends are transforming tomorrow with our new podcast, Future Human: The Series. Listen now on Spotify, on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Laura Varley
By Laura Varley

Laura Varley is a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic. She has a background in technology PR and journalism and is borderline obsessed with film and television, the theatre, Marvel and Mayo GAA. She is currently trying to learn how to knit.

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