In the fast lane with Haas F1's Tom Capocci FCCA

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British seven-time World Champion Hamilton may drive for rival team Mercedes, but he has been a driving force in Tom Capocci’s career ever since.

‘I have been hooked on Formula One since Lewis Hamilton came into the sport with McLaren in 2007,’ reveals Tom.

Tom’s journey towards Formula One started at school. He always liked maths and, after completing A levels, studied AAT at Abingdon and Witney College in Oxfordshire, UK. Tom then opted to study ACCA with Kaplan.

He remembers: ‘I passed AAT 2 and 3 in a year and completed AAT 4 the following year, between 2010 and 2012. I completed ACCA between 2012 and 2015. I passed all exams first time.

‘I studied AAT 2 and 3 full-time and worked part-time for a Henley-based practice while completing AAT 4.’

Tom moved out of practice to pharma company IQVIA where he completed the ACCA exams: ‘IQVIA paid for my studies and gave me flexi-time off to prepare for exams. They also managed my time well.

‘I chose the ACCA Qualification as I saw that it was a broad syllabus with a good structure.’

He moved onto another pharma company, Bio-Techne, where he gained managerial responsibilities. However his desire to move into Formula One burned brightly.

‘I started applying for Formula One roles over a period of time and it was by luck that I came to Haas. They were looking for someone different. They were looking to recruit someone outside the industry,’ he recalls.

Tom, 30, started at Haas in April 2019 as global accounting manager and has been promoted twice. He is also set to complete an MBA through the Henley Business School.

‘After two years, I am on my final dissertation,’ he says. ‘Haas has funded it all, which is a big financial commitment and the company has been extremely supportive.

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‘I was promoted from global accounting manager to European controller last year. The stars aligned due to a number of factors – timing, opportunity, the ACCA Qualification, the MBA, as well as developing and picking up experience.

‘Haas does not have a CFO currently, so the US head of finance and I are filling in the role between us, which is a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow further.’

Role and responsibilities

Tom’s responsibilities cover all accounting and financial matters in Europe, including annual statutory reporting, audits, tax compliance and budgets. Since arriving at Haas, he has also witnessed the arrival of cost caps, which limit the amount that teams can spend on areas such as car design and salaries.

‘Costs caps have been a dramatic change. There is a ceiling on what we can spend. We are not at the cap, but we are close.

‘To ensure we are compliant with the caps, forecasts have got to be red hot. Systems, processes and communication within the team have to be spot on. We need to be aware of what costs are includable and what costs are not,’ he adds.

‘We have a lean organisation and outsource all we can,’ he says. ‘We are the smallest Formula One team and with that comes pressure. We don’t have the bandwidth of others. Where we may have four or five people in a department, Mercedes may have 20.

‘Formula One gets me engaged and motivated and that really helps. I still get excited waking up in the small hours to watch the team race.’

There are six people in the finance team and, at the time of writing, Haas has one vacancy. So what does Tom look for when hiring?

Accountants must have an interest in the industry and have transferable skills. They need to hit the ground running and be ready to develop and mould into the Haas team.

‘They also need to be able to communicate well and really bring the numbers to life.’

Author: Alex Miller, writer

This article was first published in Student Accountant in May 2022

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