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The LCN Tax Interview: Peter Dobson


2 April 2017

We are delighted to feature an interview with Peter Dobson, Regional Head of Tax for Ferrovial.

How did you get into tax?

For me tax seemed a natural meeting point of commerce and academia where I didn’t think I would get bored as there would always be change. I don’t think I factored in just how much change there would be and the relentless pace of change.

Who has been the most influential role model for your professional life?

I have been blessed in working with some incredibly nice, intelligent and strong people. At their core seems to be a focus on doing the right thing, flexible, thorough and commercial. At each stage of my career I have benefited from such people around me – whether it be Russell Hampshire who originally recruited me into tax at KPMG, Barry Smith at PwC who showed how genuinely caring for a client is an invaluable tool and walking 500 peaks can be done whilst also having a great career, Greg Hilbrich Head of Tax at Oracle showing the power of clear logical thinking, Murray Clayson at Freshfields showing the power of uniting people. All such influencers have such an impact and make a permanent impact on those with whom they come into contact. As my professional life is so intertwined with my personal life, absolutely the greatest overall impact is my family for their endless support and encouragement.

What do you see as the biggest challenge affecting the tax functions of large corporates over the next 10 years?

As businesses face global competition and markets change in unexpected ways, the tax function needs to also adapt. Jobs will change and big data will become key, so the tax advisor of the future will have to be more flexible in showing deep specialist knowledge being commercially applied.

How would you change the OECD’s approach in relation to BEPS?

I think BEPS is a cog in the wider changes to tax – whether it be transparency, more information being exchanged, or companies wanting to be seen to be more a part of a community. There will unfortunately be more compliance requirements, but not convinced this will correlate to more understanding of global tax issues. There still needs to be step up in companies and tax authorities being able to reach transparent practical agreements on how rules are to be applied and to eliminate as much unnecessary bureaucracy where there is no value being added.

In a movie of your life story, which actor would you like to play you?

I wish I could have said the late Robin Williams. Such a genius actor who surely could have put a good spin on my life inside and outside of tax. I bet he could have even made tax funny… A mixture of travel, adventure, learning, love, tragedy, success, mistakes and triumphs – maybe it should be an opera not a movie. Could I ask Danny Boyle to be the director?

What would be your dream job if you didn’t work in tax?

If I didn’t make it as the pro-athlete, then perhaps a vet. I did my first work experience at a veterinary practice aged 12 when I watched a post mortem on a puppy. I think there have been such amazing advancements in medicine in recent years and we are on the brink of something special with the combination of big data, regenerative therapies, bionic surgery and cool people like Noel Fitzpatrick filling our television sets.

What is your biggest extravagance?

N+1 (where N = the number of bikes a person owns, and +1 is how many more they need). If you understand the formula, you will understand why a person needs a new bike, no matter how many they currently have. Sport has always been a central part of my life.

What do you do to relax?

I enjoy a wide range of hobbies and experiences, time permitting. A lot of my spare time is spent either on the bike or with the family. I do like good company, music, conversation, theatre and a nice bottle of Saint Estephe.

What is your favourite holiday destination?

For the last few years this has been Villard Reculas, a small village in the French Alps where the cycling is amazing and so is the skiing.

What piece of advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Stay hungry to learn. Stay focused upon the truth. Be patient with yourself and others. Some opportunities need to be seized, some created, some ignored.

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Article by
Paul Sutton
LCN Legal Co-Founder

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