Andy Marrison

BSc Physics with Theoretical Physics, 1989
Director of Tax, Formula 1

I lead a small team of five, responsible for managing Formula 1’s worldwide tax affairs. In practice this means understanding the tax laws and regulations not only in the UK, where F1 is headquartered, but in all the countries in which we race.

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?

Apart from the pleasure of working in a sport I’ve followed from childhood, I love the variety of challenges that comes along with F1 racing in over twenty different countries. There’s never a shortage of new and different issues to address and problems to solve. F1 also has some of the best people in the world working across a wide variety of roles, and it’s great to be part of such a talented and stimulating team.

What made you interested in your current role?

I was working for another company at the time F1 approached me and asked if I’d like to interview for my current role. It came completely out of the blue and I couldn’t believe my luck at being asked – not just because I was a fan, but more importantly because F1 is a unique business with unique issues, which I knew would give me a whole new set of experiences.

andy marrison

How has your career developed since graduating?

After graduating I started a PhD at another University, but pretty quickly concluded it wasn’t for me and took a job as a Computational Physicist with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), where I stayed for five years. Having become increasingly involved in commercial matters at UKAEA and finding them interesting, I decided that I would try to get a professional finance qualification and joined PwC to train as a Chartered Accountant. I qualified in 1999 and specialised in tax, which because of its sometimes complicated rules is not too dissimilar to theoretical physics in many ways! Since then I have worked in international tax roles for a number of different companies, culminating in my current role with F1.

What motivates you?

I love challenges – hard things that I can focus on and achieve a result. At work I most enjoy tackling unusual new issues that require me to look into new areas of tax law; outside work I am a keen road cyclist, and love to struggle up steep climbs in the Chiltern hills or occasionally in the Alps.

Why did you originally apply to the University of Birmingham?

Birmingham had and still has a great reputation for Physics, and of course that was a big reason I applied. What really persuaded me that I needed to be at the University, though, was the feel of the campus – there’s something very special about being in a self-contained space, with beautiful red brick buildings and clock tower, dedicated to learning. I knew straight away that Birmingham was where I wanted to be.

We Are (Third Width)

Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities as a student?

Yes, I played quite a lot of badminton and was a member of the University Aikido Club. That started a lifelong interest in martial arts and whilst I no longer practise Aikido, I train with a local karate club every week, recently joined by my young son.

How did your time at University help you start your career?

Studying physics taught me how to look at a complex problem and strip it down to its essential features. This was of course a big help in the early part of my career as a physicist but, maybe not so obviously, has also given me a big advantage as a tax specialist. There are many complicated situations to analyse in international business and being able to break things down logically, ignoring the extraneous details, can often help one to analyse a problem and see a solution more clearly and quickly than others.

What advice would you give to current students?

Enjoy it! It’s one of very few opportunities in life to devote yourself to studying something you enjoy – that’s a real privilege, so make the most of the chance to learn from some of the best in the world!

Andy's favourite memory of the University

“It’s really geeky, but my fondest memory is sitting by the window in my room in Mason Hall overlooking the lake, next to a warm radiator on a snowy day, reading textbooks about the things I’d always wanted to learn more about.”