The LCN Tax Interview: Zakir Vahora

We are delighted to feature an interview with Zakir Vahora. Zakir is the Global Tax and Treasury Manager at All Saints, the fashion retailer headquartered in Spitalfields, London.

Why did you get into tax?
I first came across tax during my Chartered Accountancy training. I found tax to be challenging and a good tool to help save money, but for me it would lead me to a career path that would make me part of a highly regarded successful professional community that thrives on constant tax law changes. I have further found tax to be a useful tool in generating shareholder value/enhance EPS. In elections all you hear politicians talk about is tax, highlighting its relative importance to our daily lives.

Who has been the most influential role model for your professional life?
I have been fortunate to have worked closely with a handful of highly skilled and intelligent and well acquainted financiers/professionals from whom I have learnt so much so quickly. These individuals inspired me and gave me honest constructive feedback. The experiences enabled me to gain inner strength and skills/knowledge to be successful. To this day, they bring a smile to my face whenever I remember them.

What do you see as the biggest trend affecting the tax world over the next 10 years?
In my view ten years is a long time in tax but I would say current discussions around BEPS, transfer pricing, global unity against tax avoidance/evasion and the digital industry, are likely to be the key areas affecting not just tax but global economies. I see tax authorities becoming more sophisticated in dealing with transfer pricing metrics and investigations. I feel more needs to be done to provide clear tax guidance to help multinationals have a clear path.

What is your pet hate when dealing with advisers?
Any advisor that wastes time and money is not good. Those that try and sell ideas that carry no weight but are a mere distraction to generate future tax fees. Fortunately, I’ve worked with good advisors. Many senior boardroom directors are now well trained to know this as well as are tax partners.

In a movie of your life story, which actor would you like to play you?
I do like George Clooney and Dwayne Johnson. Both are smart, sophisticated, liked and strong willed – no messing about. George is cool and firm standing and Dwayne has a nice smile and makes me laugh. My life story is a roller coaster ride and I’m sure both would portray me well.

What would be your dream job if you didn’t work in tax?
A nursery school teacher faced with a classroom of four year olds screaming, laughing and making a real mess. A dream job as I would simply sit back take sweets out to give to the children rather than facing up to complex tax/treasury planning ideas. I’m sure I’m missing the point here as nursery/reception schooling is so important, hard and stressful.

What is your biggest extravagance?
Buying designer clothes and then not wearing them. My three children are also a loving extravagance worth every moment. I would never reverse the clock.

What do you do to relax?
Coming home and playing games (hide and seek) with my three young children and listening to their stories of the day. They make me laugh. Out of home life, I like swimming, Wing Chun martial arts and recently Krav Maga, although swimming zaps my energy.

What is your favourite holiday destination?
A few places rather than a single one. I like South East Asia and the Middle East (historical sites and there are many). India is also a lovely place full of energy and diversity. USA/Japan/China are also places I like re culture.

What piece of advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Always keep a positive mental attitude and be assertive with your peers. Learn quickly from your mistakes, stay focused, set clear goals in mind, never let anyone undermine you or throw you off your set course, respect people and spend quality time with your family and friends.

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