Georgiana Head Talks to Karen Hayzen-Smith of AMEC for International Tax Review

AMEC tax chief wants CFC reform Karen Hayzen-Smith of AMEC tells Georgiana Head that the UK’s controlled foreign companies rules should change to encourage investment.

Georgiana Head interviews the great and good of the tax world and asks all those things you have always wanted to know.

Karen Hayzen-Smith is the director of tax and treasury at AMEC, which she joined in 2008. AMEC is a global company that supplies consultancy, engineering and project management services to the world’s energy, power and process industries. She trained with Arthur Andersen before working in-house with Vodafone and Hanson.

What was your first job?
When I was a student I worked in the holidays as a barmaid at a hotel in Balloch on Loch Lomond in Scotland. It was a fun job- the only downside being that I had to wear a kilt.

If you weren’t in your current job what would you like to be?
I’m lucky because I really enjoy my role and the variety of working in taxation. I think if I wasn’t a tax adviser I would be a lawyer. However, the idea of owning a restaurant is also appealing – ideally a very good seafood one.

What achievement are you most proud of?
It has got to be my children Juliet and Monty. While they can be a challenge they are also lots of fun.

What’s the best advice that anyone has ever given you?
A colleague said ‘Don’t do this interview!”, but seriously my favourite motto is the Scottish expression ”What’s for you won’t go by you”. It means that if something is meant to be, it will be, and has the underlying implication that you shouldn’t get stressed as if it’s the right decision it’s meant to happen.

What’s the best thing about your job?
I do like being in tax, I love my job and I enjoy the change and variety of tax. It’s the fact that it affects all areas of a business and so every day is different and there is always something to learn. The more activity within the business the more interesting it becomes. I like the fact that you can really make a difference and save a company money.

What is your favourite place in the world?
While I was at Vodafone I had the opportunity to go travelling for three months and I really loved what I saw of Borneo. However, I’ve always thought it would be lovely to retire near Loch Lomond. Perhaps, that is when I will set up that restaurant!

If you had the opportunity to meet someone from any era, who would it be?
I’d really like to meet Chris Evans because I love his sense of humour and listen to his radio show on the way home in the evenings. On a more serious note, I think it would be intriguing to meet the Dalai Lama.

And what question would you ask them?
I’d ask the Dalai Lama about his thoughts on globalisation, I’ve read several of his books and would really like to hear him talk on breaking down barriers between peoples. I’d also like to know how Chris Evans always manages to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation.

If you were the chancellor of the exchequer in the UK what one change would you make to the tax regime?
Given that a lot of companies have recently announced their intention to move their corporate headquarters from the UK, I would change the Finance Act 2000 rules on controlled foreign companies with the aim of encouraging more business in the UK. I also think that it would be sensible to make stamp duty incremental on property so more in line with UK income tax rather than ‘slab’ taxation.

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