Leadership For A New Era: An Interview With Oleg Rak

Oleg Rak, Managing Partner at Mason Rak, sits down to discuss his business, his unique vision and his strategic direction for leadership in a new age. With over a decade of professional experience in specialist tax search, in combination with a truly innovative approach, Rak launched a resilient, international business. By approaching global tax search in a fresh way, Rak created a business model that has proved to be pandemic-proof. 

Becoming a Thought Leader

With over a decade of experience in his field, Rak is established, but he certainly isn’t conventional. After graduating from London School of Economics, becoming CIPD-qualified, and building a career at KPMG, Rak had the opportunity to build a successful career as a tax professional, but he chose a less obvious path. An attitude defined by self-assurance and non-conformity led Rak to become a search specialist in the field of taxation. When asked why his career path has been so unusual, Rak says simply: “Because I had to be true to myself.”

For ten years, Rak built global tax teams in other firms, grounding his authority and building his career within his specific niche, but his fresh attitude led him to repurpose his years of experience and start a new, innovative venture. That’s where Mason Rak comes in. “Most firms I was at were less strategic, quite dry, old-fashioned. I could see how we could launch something very special.”

Rak’s approach to his own business has also been defined by his maverick mindset, and as a result, Mason Rak has shaken the field of tax search. With headquarters in London and strategic affiliations in key markets across EMEA, North America, the Middle East and Asia-Pac, Mason Rak’s approach is both wide-reaching and resilient in a world that is becoming increasingly virtual. “I decided to create something unique based on the demands of our clients, and that’s what we’ve done. That’s what we’ve created.”

An unorthodox attitude can be valuable in any context, but as we deal with unprecedented times, the value of an innovative approach is particularly clear.

Reimagining the Global Office

From inception, Mason Rak was designed to function outside the stereotypical physical office – this means that while the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change in organisations across the world, Mason Rak’s remote, global outlook has transferred seamlessly into a new, global, digital era. “Regardless of the pandemic, we never had an old, stereotypical way of running an executive search firm”, Rak explains. Through powerful methodology, in-depth industry knowledge, and an unrivalled network of tax professionals, Mason Rak is able to execute some of the most challenging assignments regardless of jurisdiction.

“My aim when I founded Mason Rak was to create an innovative search and advisory business, where all employees operate globally with the same cultural ethos, and a sense of collaboration that essentially motivates us to deliver and execute the most challenging assignments, being a niche, boutique, focussed firm.” This aim has not only been realised, but has been tried and tested in a time of unprecedented economic and social change: “This is something that we’re used to doing. We’re comfortably adjusting to clients’ needs, but we’re not hugely amending our process – we deliver, deliver, deliver exceptional quality work as before.”

For Rak, communication technology is an essential part of maintaining a successful global office. “We use a wide range of technologies for communication, but that’s what we used to use prior to the pandemic when no-one used it.” However, his market intelligence is an invaluable tool in providing custom solutions. “We use digital for communication but market intelligence for our decision-making.”

When it comes down to it, only real, human insight can decipher “people’s drivers and characters”. More than anything, clients want to know they’re working with someone “who they can trust and rely on and talk to, sensibly and emotionally, about the current tax climate”.

Strategic, Not Tactical

As professionals across the world face the reality of living with this pandemic and its impacts, many will strive to act tactically. At Mason Rak, however, the aim is not tactical navigation, but strategic leadership. Rak confidently states: “We’re innovative, we’re not sitting and waiting.”

At Mason Rak, strategic leadership means constantly thinking about clients and their practical needs. “We’re thinking about clients”, Rak explains. “It’s not just about aspirations, it’s about individual challenges. We need to address those challenges. That’s what’s important.”

In real terms, this means dealing with clients’ needs as they handle the painful consequences of the pandemic. “They’re going to have very difficult decisions to make. Some restructuring is going to be inevitable.” Digitalisation, cyber-security and remote work will all pose challenges for clients, but Rak insists that, for Mason Rak, “now is the best time to lead”, and for Mason Rak’s clients, business growth does not have to stop solely because the pandemic has presented new obstacles.

If you would like to discuss the current tax market and strategic leadership opportunities, please do not hesitate to contact Oleg on oleg.rak@masonrak.com or call +44 786 911 3281.