In this edition of 'The Tax Expat’, we sit down for a 5-minute chat with Jerome Van Staden, the UK based Head of Tax for Doosan Power Systems and Doosan Heavy Industries. Jerome’s career spans three continents over a 26 year time period.
Jerome, I can’t express enough how thrilled we are to have you join us for our latest Tax Expat interview. It’s always fascinating to hear from professionals who have travelled far and wide in pursuit of exciting opportunities, and after seeing your experience, I can confidently say you fit the bill!
So Jerome, I’m sure you’ve built up quite the network in your illustrious career, but for those who don’t know you, could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Jerome van Staden and I was born and raised in The Netherlands. I have 26 years experience in the international tax area with 5 ½ years in the The Netherlands, more than 16 years in Brazil, 2 years in Singapore, 1 year in the The United Arab Emirates, and more than 1 year in the UK. I was an International Tax Partner for 14 years and I’m currently the Head of Tax of Doosan Power Systems and Doosan Babcock, which form part of Doosan Heavy Industries (DHI). DHI forms part of Doosan Group, which is a South Korean conglomerate. I decided to leave practice and move to industry, as I wanted to gain new experiences in a senior in-house role where I could work closely together with the business sectors and corporate departments.
With The Netherlands, Brazil, Singapore, the UAE, and now the UK being countries you’ve lived in, you’re clearly someone who isn’t averse to challenges! Did you always know that you’d one day move away from your home country?
Yes, I always wanted to obtain new experiences and work in different countries. As a senior international tax specialist, I’ve always worked with many different tax systems. My first international assignment was in the period 1999/2001 when I worked as Dutch Tax Desk at EY in São Paulo, Brazil.
São Paulo is well known in the financial world as a key location for anyone who wants to pursue a career in the LATAM region. Was this the case back in 1999 when you first relocated?
São Paulo has always been and will be the main financial center to be for anyone working in the financial sector of the LATAM region. It’s a fascinating and very dynamic place. I worked in São Paulo from 1999 until 2015 (more than 16 years).
Personally, I’ve never been to South America, but I can only imagine that the difference in culture compared to Western Europe is substantial! How easy was it for you to adapt to your new surroundings?
It was very easy as I could speak Spanish and some Portuguese when I arrived. I also had Portuguese classes in my first two years which was extremely helpful. The Brazilian people are very hospitable, which made my adaptation much easier.
16 years with EY Brazil is a significant period of your career, climbing the ladder from Manager to Partner – what led your decision to move to Singapore into a new position?
My wife and I had decided that we wanted to live in another country than Brazil and I wanted to gain new experiences in the Far East. I went on a 2-year assignment to Singapore within EY Global.
You spent 2 years in Singapore, then a year in Abu Dhabi. Were these always short-term plans, comparatively?
After my time in Singapore then Abu Dhabi, my family wanted to move from Abu Dhabi to Europe and I was very keen to transition to a senior in-house tax position.
A standout highlight for me is that after spending 25 years in practice, you then embarked on a move to the UK, transitioning into an industry position. I can imagine that the weather is a clear change from what you’re used to, but how have the operations of day-to-day differed between practice and industry?
When I was an International Tax Partner in Brazil, I was leading the outbound practice and advised Brazilian multinational companies on their international projects (setting up headquarter company, trading company, finance company structures, implementing international reorganizations, M&A projects). When I was in practice, I was very involved in developing relationships with Brazilian multinational companies and implementing international projects for them.
My experience in industry so far has been very positive and I’ve learned much about our company’s business, our industry (energy sector) and about UK domestic tax law. As Head of Tax of Doosan Power Systems and Doosan Babcock, I’m not only responsible for our operations in the UK, but also in mainland Europe, the Middle East, and Far East. When I was an International Tax Partner, I specialized in corporate income tax, whereas now I also spend much of my time on transfer pricing, VAT, and payroll tax (PAYE/NIC). In my current role, I also act as the key point of contact for the HMRC, representing the company on all tax related matters. My activities as Head of Tax are broader and more diverse than my activities as International Tax Partner.
An important difference between the UK and South America, the Far East, and Middle East, is that the UK has a lot more experience with senior in-house tax roles.
Working for a multi-national conglomerate would no doubt present international options in the future. Do you see yourself settling down in one country, or will there be future relocation on the cards?
My family and I are very happy in the UK and wish to stay here for many years.
If you were to do it all again, would you want to change anything?
Yes, I’d want to change 2 things: I’d work some years in the United States and also spend more time in the Far East.
What advice can you share for other tax professionals who are considering a relocation abroad for their career?
Know the language and culture of the other country, learn about their tax system, and adapt yourself to a new culture.
Thanks very much for your time, Jerome. It’s interesting to hear about going from practice to industry, especially when considering the level you attained in practice.
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