Chatan Patel is the Head of Tax at Global Fashion Group. He has just under a decade of experience working for international groups after training and qualifying in CTA with the Big 4, and gained his in-house experience in the telecommunications industry, recently moving to the e-commerce world. He is skilled at managing domestic and international tax teams, managing various senior internal and external stakeholders, and setting the vision for a future tax function. Chatan speaks to Marianne Wills, Consultant at Pro-Tax about working at GFG, the transition between practice and in-house, and working in the e-commerce industry.
What’s great about working for Global Fashion Group?
GFG is a leading online fashion and lifestyle destination in terms of estimated online sales in 17 countries across Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Commonwealth of Independent States (“CIS”). It is a young, exciting, innovative company that has a huge opportunity to grow in its markets.
How big is your team and what advice would you give to anyone who would apply to be a part of your team in years to come?
I have a team of 5 reporting to me based in the UK and Germany. My advice would be to be personable, engaging and smile!
When you interview someone for your team or organisation, what is the first thing you notice about a person and what does it tell you?
Their ability to communicate. This tells me how well they will liaise with the other key stakeholders in the organisation.
In your opinion, has the role of ‘in-house tax professional’ changed much over the years?
The role has fundamentally changed with less focus on aggressive tax planning and more consideration on managing tax risks, ensuring an effective tax governance framework and business partnering.
What challenges, personally or professionals, do you think the next generation of tax professionals face?
There is no doubt technology will continue to impact the tax profession. Tax authorities across the world are already embracing technology. Therefore, tax professionals in the future would need to be technology savvy.
You have both in-house and private practice experience and a very impressive career to date. How was the transition for you between practice and in-house?
The transition was exciting, but it takes time to get used to! You move away from working with clients to working in an organisation with a totally different infrastructure, more diverse range of people and interaction with non-tax departments such as accounting, legal, M&A, Treasury and commercial areas. It can be a steep learning curve but rewarding as you begin to develop a commercial adviser mindset.
Your first and second move in-house have both been with telecommunications businesses and you are now in the e-commerce industry, what have you found to be different between the sectors?
The e-commerce business model is very different to a telecommunications business. The flow of goods and services in an international group gives rise to a different set of tax challenges and risks.
How have you found moving from two well established listed businesses like Millicom and C&W to Global Fashion Group, a new and growing business who are a little less known?
The transition was challenging at times as you begin to introduce and implement new policies, understand the business and the key challenges. However, you continue to develop your skills which is important.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stick to your gut instincts, see change as an opportunity and never lose your sense of humour.
What do you do in your downtime?
Keep fit, travel and read.