GC Powerlist Switzerland
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GC Powerlist > GC Powerlist: Switzerland
The Legal 500 by country
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For 28 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist (formerly the Corporate Counsel 100) is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: Switzerland, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in the region ...read more
The GC Powerlist is a series of publications, highlighting the most influential in-house lawyers in business today.
We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across Switzerland, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each jurisdictional list. GC Powerlist: Switzerland features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from the law firms about how they feel individual corporate counsel have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: Switzerland, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in Switzerland or global), please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
|David Burgess||Jamie Rayat, Sara Mageit|
GC Powerlist: Switzerland
(listed in alphabetical order; click on an individual to view an expanded biography)
Senior Legal counsel
Head of Corporate Finance Legal
General Counsel, Head of Legal Affairs
Group General Counsel and Company Secretary
Group General Counsel
Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Group General Counsel
Group Chief Legal Officer & General Counsel
Senior Legal Counsel - M&A|Finance|Investments
Zurich Insurance Company
Diane De Saint Victor
Group General Counsel and Company Secretary
Head of Legal - Switzerland
Man Group plc
Group General Counsel
Group General Counsel
Novartis International AG
Group General Counsel
Swisscanto Asset Management AG
Head Legal Europe & Africa
Trina Solar (Switzerland) AG
Associate General Counsel, Business Development and Commercial Law
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd
Group General Counsel, Head of Group Corporate Services Dept.
SICPA HOLDING SA
Crealogix Holding AG
Head of Legal, Compliance, and HR
Banque Audi (Suisse) SA
Group General Counsel
Olivia Guyot Unger
Fédération des Entreprises Romandes Genève
OC Oerlikon Corporation
Chief Legal Officer
Cofra Holding AG
Senior Associate General Counsel - Europe
Group General Counsel
Zurich Insurance Company Ltd
Senior Associate General Counsel, Corporate Secretary
General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
Salt Mobile SA
Head of Legal
Head of Legal
Renova Management AG
General Counsel and Member of the Executive Committee and Global Executive Board
Partners Group Holding AG
General Counsel and Company Secretary
SR Technics Switzerland AG
Group General Counsel
Head Legal Group Operations
Zurich Insurance Group Ltd
Head of Legal
Vice President & Corporate General Counsel
Nestlé Skin Health/ Galderma
"General Counsel, Executive Vice President "
OC Oerlikon Corporation
General Counsel / Secretary to the Board
Barry Callebaut AG
Legal Counsel and Venue Director
Helsinn Healthcare SA
General Counsel Investment Bank and General Counsel Switzerland
Group General Counsel
General Counsel Corporate Functions & AM
Group General Counsel
Kuehne + Nagel International AG
Lindt & Sprungli
Berenberg Bank (Schweiz) AG
Head of Capital Markets Finance Legal Team
ACE & Company
Head of Legal & Insurances / Compliance Officer
Hiatchi Zosen Inova AG
Chief Counsel M&A, Senior Vice President
Group General Counsel / Director Legal
Holy Fashion Group//Strellson AG
Head of Legal and Compliance
IG Bank S.A.
General Counsel EMEA
PPG Industries Europe LLC
Head Legal Structured Transactions
Pictet Asset Management
Director/ General Counsel
Division General Counsel Europe & Africa
Gate Gourmet Switzerland Ltd.
Koenraad Van Himbeeck
VP and General Counsel
Honeywell Technologies Sàrl
Jörg Von Manger-Koenig
Group General Counsel
Nobel Biocare Holding AG
Selecta Management AG
Head of Legal and Compliance Passenger Traffic
In his role at ABB, one of the global leaders in Electronic Manufacturing, Oliver Albrecht not only contends with a diverse case load, but also with constantly demonstrating value to his business partners. Oliver cites the highlight of his in-house career so far as helping ABB come out on top in a multi-jurisdictional litigation. What started out as something ‘relatively overseeable’ turned into a case involving ‘patent infringements, multi-country IP enforcement and industrial espionage’ lasting several years in which ‘many procedures, countries and opponents were involved with criminal investigations leading to police raids and investigative custody’. Ultimately ABB’s success was heavily influenced by the work that Oliver and the team completed, directly contributing to renewed business opportunities for the company in the aftermath of the case.Along with departmental restructuring that has made the team ‘more efficient and productive and given people the feeling of being in the right place’, there have been efforts on specialising the range and depth of technical legal knowledge. Oliver states that they’ve worked towards ‘more specialist know how for everyone in each team’ to add to the ‘comprehensive legal advice to specific business units’. If the know-how already existed then it was considered essential to get better at ‘efficiently making use of the specialist knowledge in litigation, competition, compliance and procurement’.
During his time at UC Rusal, Charles Anderson has expanded the team's role beyond strictly support for the group's impressive financings (currently $10bn). Now he assists with international compliance, as well as regulatory and competition issues with significant emphasis on international sanctions. In regards to his focus on international compliance and competition issues, he says that he has dealt with challenges that international sanctions now pose to companies with a heavy presence in Russia. When asked what he enjoys most about his role, Charles says that it is ‘the constant surprise factor - every day brings with it a new intellectual challenge, especially given the shifting regulatory environment’.
US-trained lawyer Mark Beariault says he has successfully adapted to the culture and practices of a Swiss company. Instead of imposing a US-style legal practices, he says he tried to ‘selectively marry best practices and perspectives among a diverse and talented team’. He admits that it took more time to accomplish but the ultimate result has been ‘enhancement of the legal service we are able to provide to the company and an all-round better image for the in-house legal team’. His other achievements include fostering methods to better align the legal department with the business needs of the company. He has worked on relationship building and proactive involvement, by successfully establishing primary legal contacts for each business unit to facilitate information exchange. In terms of regional hiring activity, he has selectively expanded the legal team with a location geographical-mix of knowledge and experience in order to ‘add local legal expertise and language abilities’. As a leader, Mark has shown great supportive qualities; in terms of professional development of his team, he has taken a tailored approach by encouraging each member to expand their professional skills through additional training, education and job responsibilities that match both personal interests and anticipated needs of the company.
Since joining Ascom in 2011 as general counsel, Judith has introduced a successful compliance strategy which includes ‘a new code of conduct, regular compliance and negotiation trainings, compliance audits and a whistleblower hotline’. She has also had an integral role in the divestment of Ascom's security communication division in five separate deals and three countries ‘in particular the carve-out of one division into five businesses and the related transition services agreements’. She explains that one of the highlights of her in-house career is the legal integration of the company’s acquisition in the US, Australia and Malaysia. For Judith, the transition from senior associate to in-house counsel has been thoroughly rewarding, she cites that one of the aspects of the role she enjoys the most is ‘to be close to the business and have a direct impact on the course of the business’. She also enjoys the diversity within the company and says she finds it fulfilling to be ‘responsible for the legal matters of a publicly listed company in an international environment. This results in very interesting but also challenging duties and tasks, including the interaction with people on different levels and types’. When asked about the work of external counsel, she says that the cooperation with outside counsel works ‘very well’. She goes on to say that ‘they are responsive and provide knowledgeable input. In some countries, the cost consciousness of outside counsel can still be improved. This is not the case for Swiss law firms, they act very cost-consciously in general’.
Andreas Bohrer has an excellent track record of corporate and commercial work. He demonstrated this, along with his high performing team at Novartis, with the multi-jurisdictional $50bn acquisition and merger of Alcon Inc into Novartis in 2010-2011. He also co-lead the successful integration of Novartis Animal Health (NAH) into Eli Lilly & Company in 2014-2015. Andreas has adopted an impeccable method to support and motivate his team of 200 legal and compliance professionals at every step of their career. One method is the continual support he gives to senior lawyers to become trusted business partners. Those who have worked with him have said that he can ‘bring out the best in people’. He prides himself in having created a diverse department that promotes collaboration among the teams and has established a program to exchange in-house counsel between the teams, and in particular with headquarters. His multi-spanning professional expertise covers pharmaceuticals, banking and the non-financial sector. This experience has allowed him to function as a board member in operating subsidiaries as well as third party firms in both the financial and non-financial sector. In addition, his expertise on governance has lead him to write a habilitation thesis on corporate governance and capital markets. When discussing the highlights of his career he explains how he has led a team of highly skilled individuals to achieve some of the most complex and innovative transactions within very ambitious timelines at Novartis, UBS and Lonza. On the changing role of the in-house lawyer Andreas Bohrer concedes that ‘the legal and regulatory frameworks are converging between industries and between jurisdictions, and the role of in-house counsel has developed dramatically in the past 12-15 years, certainly in Switzerland, if not everywhere. From the back-seat role of a reactive service provider into the driver seat in major transactions as well as a corporation’s governance, in-house counsel have stepped up in their roles and responsibilities, and their profile has developed accordingly’.
Since starting his role as group general counsel at Actelion - a leading biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative drugs - Marian has contributed to a number of pivotal legal proceedings and his career has been marked by a continuous acceptance of responsibility. Marian started as the company’s first in-house counsel 15 years ago and then assumed additional responsibility in 2003 as corporate secretary to the board of directors of Actelion and later the compliance sector. When asked what he enjoys most about the role he cites that ‘there have been lots of various fulfilling functions, however I find collaborating with my colleagues in the legal departments and management sector to be a particularly fulfilling part of my role’. In addition, he acted as a lecturer for commercial law for prospective auditors and accountants. Marian is also a well-respected and qualified business mediator, having had completed a secondment to an international law firm based in the UK.
Having been in the profession for 25 years, Jose Camino has used previous experiences to play a pivotal role in the restructuring of the legal department at Metalor Technologies. A conscientious leader, he says the most rewarding part of his job is ‘with the help and support of my team, the ability to design and implement solutions to the business that help them to achieve their goals’. It is clear that he sets concise and meticulous targets with every desire to succeed and revolutionise the legal department. Some of these changes include an emphasis on communication and training, implementation of contract review, claims, litigation and engagement of outside counsel policies. To ensure top quality legal service, Jose has defined key performance indicators for the team that are tracked monthly in terms of response time and service quality. When asked about the highlight of his in-house career to date he spoke about his work completed in a former position as vice-president, corporate & legal in Alcoa Europe, ‘I would say that the negotiation of a framework agreement with the Spanish Government and the three main Spanish utility companies for the supply of power to the Alcoa smelters in Spain (representing 3% of the power consumption of the country)’.
Ricardo has been in his current role since June 2011 as Chief Legal Officer for Nestlé, the second largest company in Switzerland. Operating in the fast-moving food & beverage industry, Ricardo navigates his team through a tide of new regulation and related enforcement activities that are truly global in their nature. Fundamental changes from a legal and regulatory perspective are mainly linked with societal issues like non-communicable diseases and obesity, while compliance issues to do with competition law, privacy and human rights all rear their heads. Ricardo states that the legal team at Nestlé has become a key player in efforts to help the company to grow in a ‘sustainable and compliant manner’, having ‘adapted our function accordingly, hiring food law experts, creating advocacy committees and supporting our businesses and senior management’. In doing so, he has managed to ‘expand our portfolio and number of clients by around 50%’, while keeping the company’s legal spend at the same level through efficiency and intelligent resourcing. However, Ricardo’s efforts are not solely focussed on the needs of Nestlé. Many of his team are members of major in-house associations and have partnered with key universities such as Harvard Law School by joining their advisory boards. Ricardo has strong ethical considerations, concentrating on ‘promoting gender balance and diversity with a keen focus in helping young lawyers to start their careers’. This has extended to Nestlé partnering with universities, law firms and other companies to achieve their goals.
Fabienne Crisovan describes herself as, ‘the single point of entry and expert knowledge among the legal department thereby providing comprehensive legal advice with one voice’. Her areas of expertise include corporate law, contract law, commercial litigation and securities regulation. Her ambition is to promote the ‘one legal’ approach. When asked what she enjoys most about her role she responds by saying, ‘It is a very global role allowing me to work across countries, cultures, and excellent people’. She admits that when working with outside counsel she would like to see law firms ‘sticking to the budget and proactive accrual updates’. She explains the infrastructure of Zurich Insurance company; ‘our company is a globally active company and the legal department is divided into local and headquarter roles, and the headquarter roles are broken down into expert teams’. Discussing features of her role, she explains simplifying the legal advice for the benefit of the clients and says ‘my understanding of my role is not only to provide expert advice, but also to give our internal client easy access to legal advice covering all aspects. For my internal clients, this makes it easier for the client to get the legal advice as needed and in a manner that is easy to understand’.
Award-winning Diane De Saint Victor has recently been recognised for her renowned legal work by the Directors Roundtable. Diane is highly respected for leading large-scale changes in the field of compliance and integrity. ‘What I am most proud of is to see my team of legal colleagues growing and serving our business with an incredible level of maturity and leadership’. Another highlight of her career was being a changing change agent in ABB, and driving the company from entering into a deferred prosecution agreement in the aftermath of various corruption issues. She has also contributed towards driving the company to being recognised as one of the most ethical companies in the world by the Ethisphere Institute in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Diane says that what makes her feel really good are the ‘various situations where I have been able to anticipate and resolve matters without my internal clients seeing it or being aware of it, thus taking the hassle away for my clients and being ahead of the curve from a risk standpoint’.
Operating in the financial services sector, legal and business challenges for the Man Group involve keeping up with the volume of new laws and regulations that affect the industry and the group itself. As head of legal for Switzerland, Jasmin seeks to use ‘timely implementation of changes in order for our business set-up to correspond with the new legal environment.’ She states that the changes she has made have been with a mind to optimising the ‘legal, regulatory and corporate structure of our global business’. In using outside counsel, Jasmin wants to be ‘appreciated as a business partner’ and asks firms to provide a ‘legally robust framework within which the group and its teams can operate’. She wants firms to ‘understand our business, to be proactive and provide extra client value through legal industry and content updates’.
Pascal Duclos was brought in to set up Dufry’s legal function from its conception and in efforts spanning over ten years has created a department truly global in scope. His team support the business by overseeing operations that require the use of 15 different languages spanning five continents. Internationalisation is a theme running through Pascal’s career, whose highlights include his work presiding over an international merger of Swiss and Brazilian public companies and making a key direct contribution to turning a medium-sized sales private equity company into a large publicly listed company, which is now the clear leader in its market. One method Pascal uses to improve overall results for the company is by facilitating clear communication between the legal team and their business counterparts, in doing so he aims to be ‘a strategic player in the development of the business’. He also enjoys ‘working with some of the brightest external counsels of the planet and learning every day from them’.
Felix Ehrats’ excellent track record of litigation outcomes in the last three years has earned him a sterling reputation in the Swiss legal industry. Since 2011, in his role as group general counsel, he has made pivotal changes to the legal team at Novartis in terms of communication, government affairs and risk-related functions, and continues to drive the team toward excellence. He has made critical changes related to talent development and strives for the improvement of talent and personal development of each associate through focused training of their managers. This has led the legal team to being praised and recognised as an integral part of the value chain at Novartis. When asked what he likes most about the role, Felix says ‘to have an impact in a rapidly changing company and industry, to lead an extremely dynamic legal department and the interaction with senior leadership and board of Novartis’.
‘My duty is not to be the best of the best, it’s to have the responsibility to allow everyone to feel comfortable in the work environment’. Markus Erb goes on to say, ‘I find that when you respect each other, the potential and performance is at its best’. Erb’s selfless character and team-player attitude has contributed to his exceptional work for Swisscanto. He values his colleagues and prides himself in having a team with a collective range of expertise and says ‘I like the business that I’m involved in, and I feel privileged to be part of it’. He describes his team as being one of the market-leading in the areas of investment banking, mutual funds and pension funds in regards to controlling and compliance. ‘I like that I can have a real impact to the regulatory side as well as to the safety and performance of the business’. Examples of his exemplary work include helping rectify a large-scale crisis: ‘when we had mutual funds with guarantee AIG, in 2008 where everything exploded, and there was a lot of change and people were being replaced carelessly. Damages were repaired and everything went smoothly after intense negotiation’. He speaks fondly of his team of senior experts who take a conservative stance when it comes to predictions of tax issues and explains that is the reason they’ve had no critical business tax disputes since 2008.
Peter heads a team comprising both legal and non-legal employees working in Trina’s European and African operations, which has grown under his supervision from four employees to up to 70. Despite being a regional office in name, Peter and the team are responsible for a variety of global projects which affect the whole of the company. ‘Setting up the European subsidiaries for an Asian-headquartered company and understanding different legal and business cultures’ has been the biggest challenge for his team. Having been with projects from their beginning, planning until their implementation and being close to the business are all sources of satisfaction for Faisst.
Andrea’s team is international in its focus, handling business matters across EUCAN and EM regions, requiring lawyers with diverse backgrounds and skills. Andrea was responsible for building this team from its inception, and cites the way that the role entails such ‘different matters’ and interacting with ‘various professionals’ means ‘you are never bored’. Andrea’s in-house career came like many others from working in private practice, after which ‘starting again from square one’ posed the biggest challenge in terms of getting to grips with his current role.
Richard joined SICPA, the leading provider of secured identification, traceability and authentication solutions to governments and industry, in 2008 as group general counsel. His responsibilities include legal & compliance, intellectual property and human resources. He is also the administrative oversight of corporate affairs and of the security office. Richard is a member of SICPA’s executive committee and of its advisory board. He acts as company secretary of SICPA HOLDING SA and serves as a board member of SICPA worldwide affiliated companies. Richard regularly presents at industry conferences, mainly on ethics and compliance; together with peers and specialists, he was instrumental in developing the banknote ethics initiative (www.bnei.com), an innovative collective action scheme launched in 2013.
Martin Frey prides himself for being a conduit for transactions and achievements within the company, by building trust and being both a good communicator and listener. ‘Besides all successful contract negotiations and deal conclusions, my achievement is to be regarded as professional, available and a timely legal enabler for the daily challenges of our company’. Martin built up a robust compliance desk, and implemented a company-wide intranet site with relevant information for day-to-day operations, such as templates and presentations. Martin has also had impact on the legal profession as a whole; legal networking is a strict requirement for his team, and he sees it as crucial to help achieve this crucially important task. Martin founded a general counsel roundtable in his region, to discuss legal matters of interest with other legal colleagues in the same role. When asked what he enjoys most about his role he lists the following aspects, ‘exchange with the business side, decision power, flexibility in my job, closeness to management and strategy, company insights, broad aspect of company law, to grow every day with new challenges and networking with legal colleagues’.
Heading up a mixed department of legal and non-legal employees, private banking specialist Mireille has seen numerous changes since she started working in Switzerland 20 years ago. Most notable is that departments have very often and very quickly become more diverse over time. Her current role at Banque Audi demands intimate knowledge of private banking law such as agreements, account opening documents, acquisitions and related work, these responsibilities are ‘incremental and are in line with constant increases in regulation’. Personal achievements in her career include agreements with large international financial institutions in Geneva and New York while also reorganising and restructuring private banking institutions, one project taking three years restructuring in accordance with new local legal requirements. Having such an internationally diverse remit, Mireille’s challenges are not only legal but cultural; having worked across US, Swiss, Italian, Swiss and Lebanese banks she says it is ‘difficult but necessary’ to ‘adapt your work to different cultures’ and so to get the best results there’s ‘always a need to adjust to each culture to understand’. Needless to say Mireille’s experience lends itself well to accurately summarising the differences between in-house and private practice, she notes that the job of legal counsel in a private bank is ‘very different to that of a lawyer in a law firm’ and there is a lot less ‘theoretical analysis, less reading and writing, but more action and application, although there are a lot more politics too!’
In his role as group general counsel at Implenia, German Grueniger restructured the legal department into two main branches: corporate legal services and legal services for business units. He explains that the organisation of legal services for business reflects the business units in each jurisdiction and major international projects, directly servicing their needs. He says ‘a challenge for me was coming from private practice and taking the position of a group general counsel after being partner of a well-known law firm for eight years. Working in-house is a different but exciting world. But the biggest challenge was to bring the "law firm spirit" into the existing in-house counsel team in terms of efficiency and responsibility’. A highlight of German’s career was his involvement in the transaction acquisition of Bilfinger Construction GmbH as part of the Bilfinger SE Corporation in Germany.
Increasing her teams’ ‘motivation and engagement’ by rearranging working hours have been among the most significant changes Olivia has made to her team. Olivia and her colleagues have written several publications of which she cites ‘Le Contrat de travail, des pourparlers aux conséquences de la résiliation’ as being the most notable, intended for businesses and other legal professions providing information about standard contracts, collective labour agreements and social insurance. ‘Combining management and legal expertise’ are what she enjoys the most about her role, and in terms of working with outside counsel wants to see them ‘treating us as peers’.
Oliver has been highly-praised for his work at Oerlikon, the leading high-tech industrial group. Speaking of the significant changes he cites that he ‘was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to be part as a lead in-house counsel of some of the fundamental portfolio changes implemented by the Oerlikon group in the last three and a half years (including the acquisition of the Metco-Business of Sulzer AG in 2014)’. As general counsel, Oliver has been pivotal in building up a centralised legal organisation since he took over the position last year. Oliver has created and implemented a plethora of standardised processes that has helped generate efficiency in the legal team. He has also had a taking a leading role in harmonising guidelines for contract review and negotiations, and prides himself for his building of efficient processes for mandating, monitoring and assessing of external legal counsel. He has been heavily involved in the build-up of a business segment structure for trade control and compliance.
Christoph Hammer leads a team of 50 lawyers at Cofra Holding as chief legal officer. His areas of expertise include corporate governance, corporate law and private equity. Christoph is also a member of the New York Bar.
Florian prides himself in having very quickly earned the trust of the managing directors and leaders of the 25 businesses he works for. His wide-ranging areas of expertise include competition law, IP and corporate law. He is open about his desire for ethical and sustainable advice, regardless of whether that view is unpopular. When asked about improvements external counsel could make he says he would like to see ‘transparency in communication and billing. From my time spent in private practices, I remember that (almost) any amount is justifiable, as long as it is properly communicated and explained about in advance’.
Yannick Hausmann oversees the Legal, Compliance and Public Affairs functions across the Zurich Group with around 1,100 employees worldwide. Having been in his role since 2009, Yannick became involved with strategic business planning after being promoted to the Group Executive Committee in July 2012. In this role he has consistently and successfully advised the Group on various complex major transactions and reorganisations to transform it into an even leaner and more effective operation. Under Yannick’s supervision, the Group Public Affairs department was also reorganised; optimising the Group's capabilities to manage multinational regulatory and public policy matters including important topics like corporate governance, international capital standards and systemic risk designation.In terms of leadership, Yannick cites one of his outstanding achievements as the reorganisation of Group Legal and Compliance functions into business-enablers without compromising their independence as governance or assurance functions respectively. Placing emphasis on business-oriented thinking, cost transparency and efficiency, Yannick oversees these functions providing high quality legal advice for the complex transactions that working for a multinational Group entails. Another special focus of Yannick is within corporate governance, an area in which he is recognised as a thought leader often speaking and writing publications in highly reputable law journals across the world. His dedication in this area led to him establishing a special forum for all of the Group's independent board directors, facilitating mutual exchange and an open and constructive dialogue between the top management and board representatives. Yannick was also instrumental in the Zurich Group becoming a founding member of the Global Corporate Governance Colloquia (GCGC), a body that organises a series of annual world-class conferences on corporate governance research.Away from his Group General Counsel role, Yannick has been a member of the legal committees of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce and of economiesuisse, the Swiss Business Federation. In keeping with his personal interests away from Zurich, he joined the board of trustees of the foundation that supports the Museum Haus Konstruktiv in 2011. In May 2013 he became a member of the board of the Europe Institute of the University of Zurich and in April 2015, he was appointed to serve as an adviser to The American Law Institute regarding the project ‘Principles of the law, Compliance, Enforcement, and Risk Management for Corporations’.
In charge of a team of attorneys in different locations across Switzerland for one of the world's largest offshore drilling contractors, Philippe Huber has dealt with a huge range of managerial and legal issues in his time at Transocean. Most notable of these surround the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 which attracted global attention to the company and its operations. Philippe showcased his crisis management skills in the corollary disputes after the incident. The spill, and its wide-reaching impact, necessitated complex, multi-jurisdictional and high-profile work assisting the board of directors, which he calls a ‘very unique but challenging’ experience. Philippe’s input on the long running consequences of the spill are further evident in the settlement agreements reached with BP in 2013. As well as helping the company through the legal challenges raised by the oil spill, Philippe has had to proactively navigate regulatory changes for governance and compensation within Switzerland, not only understanding and navigating them himself but outlining these changes to Transocean’s international shareholder base. With the company’s profile as an American company that has been moved and headquartered in Switzerland, Philippe is required to oversee governance and regulation matters on a global basis. Philippe enjoys his dual role of corporate secretary and legal counsel as it enables him to ‘work closely as a business partner with management.’ For Philippe this does not only entail legal matters, but those connected with governance and other business-related issues which are truly international in their scope; he deals (and has dealt with) with Swiss law, US regulation matters and governance amongst other areas where required.
Marcel has an abundance of passion for his role and says ‘I love my job and see it as privilege for a lawyer to be in charge with a wide variety of legal and regulatory matters in the mobile telecommunications industry’. Throughout his years at Salt Mobile, Marcel Hubel has combined the legal and regulatory functions and established a competent L&R team which is recognised as a business enabler. He successfully led the legal and regulatory project section in relation to a major spectrum auction in Switzerland in 2012, and has taken the lead on the legal aspects of major M&A financing projects in the past four years including issuance of notes in the equivalent of CHF2bn.
Michael was STOXX's first in-house lawyer when he came on board ten years ago and since then he has built a small legal department of four people. This team continues to support a global sales force with licensing and IP-related advice. His work includes merging the compliance with certain industry specific regulations and helping lobby law makers and regulatory bodies. In addition to the work related to his team, he has successfully achieved legal protection for financial indices through a combination of intellectual property and contractual provisions. He ensures a consistent and comprehensive licensing framework across three licensors based in Switzerland and Germany. Internally, he is working on a new compliance structure for STOXX, which he says ensures the integrity of his benchmarks. When asked what he enjoys the most he about his role Michael says, ‘working with the management and interdisciplinary teams to find adequate responses to challenges prompted by changing laws and regulations’.
When David Kalberer started his role as general counsel ten years ago, he developed all the procedures for risk management around regulation, compliance and transactions, and managed the compliance regulation structure related to ethics and anti-bribery. David’s impressive list of achievements include the refinancing of part of the Renova group in 2008 during the financial crisis and the financial restructuring of OC Oerlikon Corporation AG in 2010. In South Africa, he structured and negotiated a greenfield joint venture project, which was successfully built into a large mining operation. Since 2007, David has been a Board member of various Renova group holding companies and was the legal mind behind the acquisition of control over the Swiss-listed companies Sulzer AG, OC Oerlikon Corporation AG, and Schmolz+Bickenbach AG. Currently, David is restructuring a Renova sub-group facing multiple criminal investigations, a number of litigations, governmental procedures in Italy and encompasses 55 companies. When asked what he enjoys most about his role, he says: ‘Success. To have success with great, interdisciplinary teams working under utmost pressure on complex matters but still have fun. To see and feel how proud they are to be part of this organisation’.
Dr. Gottlieb Keller’s extensive list of qualifications and integral involvement in the legal industry has undoubtedly contributed to his sterling reputation. Some of these include his position as chairman for numerous Swiss committees such as Chamber of Commerce Germany-Switzerland, and Friends of Phelophepa Foundation. His loyal dedication to Roche started in 1984 in the corporate law department and then led to him to becoming general counsel in 2008. Aside from his primary legal role, over time his responsibilities have covered a variety of sectors, further demonstrating his proactive nature and his multi-talented potential to succeed at a plethora of projects and roles. Whilst at Roche, he was has been the head of human resources, business development and pharma marketing.
Andreas Knecht built the legal team at Partners Group Holding AG from a team of three to 25 over the last six years. Whilst doing so, he made several adjustments to the management structure, one of them being the introduction of regional reporting lines. The highlights of his career have revolved around financing and regulatory influence. This included assisting the global secondary placement of CHF600m worth of shares in Partners Group Holding AG. He also facilitated a CHF375mn senior loan credit facility. Andreas went on to lead negotiations with syndicate banks and successfully received financial markets regulatory licenses from FINMA in Switzerland, FCA in the UK, CSSF in Luxembourg and CVM in Brazil in the last six years. Andreas has maintained existing regulatory licenses from the SEC in the UK, the GFSC in Guernsey and the Bank of Italy in Italy. He comments on the financial industry, saying that it ‘has changed a lot globally which comes with new challenges for regulatory affairs lawyers and compliance controllers alike. This requires increasingly more management attention at the senior (GC) level beyond being a “good” lawyer’.
In many ways capturing the changing nature of the general counsel role, there is much more to Ticiana’s role at Aerospace Company SR Technics than simply overseeing its legal matters. Told by her CEO that she should no longer act as ‘just a lawyer’, Ticiana and her team are expected to take the lead in negotiations and have carte blanche to finalise deals; signifying a very trustful relationship that she feels is ‘not very prevalent elsewhere’. Eschewing the ‘traditional’ role of general counsel, Ticiana is consistently consulted on non-legal matters by upper management, and is moving towards changing company mentalities to one that recognises that the legal department could be a good partner of the business. She summarises this as her being increasingly involved in the ‘core business’ discussions of the organisation. Perhaps for these reasons, when using external counsel Ticiana and her team want law firms to produce drafts that ‘can be understood in a commercial sense’ where there is a ‘bridge between wording and reality’, and avoiding ‘making something that leaves us with a big bill when we need something entirely different’. Some lawyers ‘just don’t understand real commercial issues of what we ask’ and ‘try to deliver beautiful documents without caring if they make sense or are practical.’
Oliver Kronenberg set up the legal department at Vifor Pharma, a company of the Galenica Group, in 2008 when he joined as general counsel and chief of staff. His first step was to enlarge the team and added an IP and compliance department. Oliver has shown exceptional talent in various aspects of pharmaceutical law throughout the years in areas that include M&A, in-licensing of products, competition law issues and negotiation of pharma-related agreements. Since 2013, he has been group general counsel at Galenica, adding ever more diversity to his job role. In his role as group general counsel he is a member of the executive committee of Vifor Pharma and of Galenica Santé, the division handling the retail and wholesale business of the Galenica group.
As part of Switzerland’s largest insurance group, Christophe heads a team that is focussed on shared services and technology services for the entire business. The role was created when he was hired in order to build up a team from scratch to pull off specialist deals on behalf of the organisation. Christophe defines his focus as ‘within the realms of technology, media and communications law with an additional strong focus on large outside transactions’. Navigating the international and cross-cultural landscape Zurich operates in is a constant source of interest for Christophe. He also needs to be prepared for the resistance that ‘driving change’ can create within such a large, multi-area organisation. Part of this, he states, is about ‘reinventing myself all the time’, which is reflected in the importance he places on ‘striving for continuous improvement’. Christophe seeks an approach closely-tied to introspection, he feels like a solid legal function ‘always seeks to ask questions about the things we have done in a transaction, like ‘is there a better we could have done it?’’ and has no room for habits or using ‘we always did it this way’ as justification. His does all of this to ensure the company’s lawyers are addressing the concerns of stakeholders in the optimal way.
Jonathan Marsh has made some key changes to Vitol since joining in 2010, including centralising the legal procurement process and revamping the terms of the business. He has reorganised the legal department by changing certain personnel and making key hires, which he finds allows the team to provide a much wider range of legal advice in-house. Along with the new hires, Jonathan has also improved the quality of training provided to the in-house legal team to be sure that they could provide everything that the business needed from them. In addition, he has restructured the company secretarial function to ensure high standards of corporate governance. Overall, Jonathan has strived to improve the quality and morale of the legal department which, in turn has led to ‘the legal team being held in much higher regard by the business than was previously the case’. He prides himself in having convinced the business to give up autonomy in choosing external counsel. As well as his knack for operational change, Jonathan is also known for his legal expertise.
Changes Christian has made to Nestlé Skin Health include introducing a ‘legal matrix’ organisation which entailed delegating each attorney a level of responsibility out of the following: territorial, business unit and legal expertise. The highlight of his career was a milestone victory in a bet-the-company US patent litigation, which caused him to save the company business he worked for at the time. When asked what he enjoys most about his job he says ‘being part of the top management of the company allowing me to anticipate the legal needs to execute the strategy’. On advice to external counsel, he says ‘accept in-house counsel as a true partner, not a competitor for services to the company’.
‘I am convinced that general counsel have to lead the way to bring their legal teams from a typically reactive, technically legal approach to a proactive, holistic mind-set of finding practicable solutions’. Mark Mauerhofer has tried to abide by this mantra during tenure, which led to the reorganisation of the group legal services department at OC Oerlikon. There are dedicated centres of competencies, synchronization and development of segment legal organisations, and he has also initiated better cooperation across special legal functions and also beyond the legal team in order to improve the collaboration with non-legal functions as well. He takes pride in his various major M&A projects, an example being the successful divestment of Solar and Advanced Technologies segments and the acquisition of the Metco Business. One highlight of his career includes the updating of existing and implementation of new effective and efficient internal processes and regulations in the fields of internal decision making processes, litigation management and contract management.
Roland Maurhofer has shown great perseverance in strengthening the legal team at Barry Callebaut. Roland received the most praise for building up the group legal department from scratch. In a regional structure, he organised regional legal and compliance counsel for the US, Western Europe, EEMEA and Asia Pacific and a small IP team with global responsibility. Another change was the design and implementation of a group compliance program that could be rolled out across the business. Roland was responsible for convincing the management to invest in an in-house legal team and staffing it with the right team members who are motivated to define their own role and establish themselves in the newly created function. Roland prides himself in knowing that the legal department is well accepted by the business as a value-add business partner, and believes this is partly the reason that the company has continued to invest in them.
An experienced sports lawyer occupying a unique role looking at financial fair play matters in football, Andrew Mercer is at the forefront of one of the most interesting legal developments in the game. He does this from his position in the disciplinary & integrity unit of European football’s governing body. After working in private practice as an associate at Slaughter & May, Andrew joined UEFA in 2010 – starting off in the marketing legal services division helping with high-profile agreements with major names such as adidas, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. Since 2013, he has had responsibility for the legal aspects of UEFA’s club licensing and financial fair play programme. This involves working closely with UEFA’s club financial control body overseeing ‘various club licensing and financial fair play investigations carried out throughout the football season and the disciplinary cases brought against clubs’. This multi-faceted role requires him to be on top of these important cases, plus overseeing ‘the drafting and interpretation of regulations and the drafting of judicial decisions, statements of appeal and other official documentation.’ He also represents UEFA at Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearings. Additionally, Andrew has also ‘broadened the scope’ of his responsibilities and is now also involved in ‘various disciplinary cases brought before the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body and the UEFA appeals body’. Andrew sees financial fair play as ‘an incredibly interesting, challenging and topical area to be involved in’, and these rules as ‘breaking new ground’. Many of the cases that he is involved in are ‘the first of their kind’ and require ‘creative thinking and innovative solutions’. Alongside satisfaction from this ground-breaking legal work, Andrew cites the ‘dedicated and talented individuals’ he interacts with as the most enjoyable things about his role. Reflecting Andrew’s ambition and passion, he enjoys working to such ‘high standards’ and that every day at UEFA offers him ‘a new learning opportunity’.
Matteo Missaglia impressively set up the legal division of Helsinn many years ago with initially just one assistant. Now the legal department provides full in-house legal support to all business operations and to the top of the management group at a worldwide level on all legal issues. Matteo says his in-house team utilises its skills on a number of levels, ‘including through an established network of some of the best international law firms’. Matteo has transformed the legal structure that now consists of an international team and different departments with a high degree of specialisation. Speaking of the most rewarding part of his job he says it is, ‘working in an international environment, and being able to contribute to define the objective and strategies of the group and giving the general counsel a role that goes beyond the purely legal advice’. His outstanding and extensive legal work includes many large-scale cases, including being praised for his successful arbitration at the ICC in Paris. Additionally, he managed legal activities supporting successful referral procedure for one of their products at EMA (European Medicine Agency). He went on to successfully completing various settlement agreements with a multinational group.
Vincent Mohy started the legal department when he joined SOCAR trading as general counsel five years ago. ‘The first step was to develop a vision for the legal department and obtain support from top management. Then implement that vision and finally test it against the reality of the business’. He has led a number of strategic projects, however the biggest highlight of his career was the acquisition of Esso Switzerland by SOCAR. Another large scale achievement was the successful defence of a $100+ million arbitration in Cairo. He also mentions other aspects of his every-day work: ‘In a trading environment where margins are tight and the volume of transactions is big, there are highlights every day. These can come from deals we do, but also transactions from which we walk away, those serviced by the in-house legal team and those where we seek the assistance of outside counsel’.
Emma has taken on the cross-divisional general counsel role for Switzerland within UBS, where her dedication to overcoming industry challenges and her skilled mastering of transparency has led to recognition for the work she has done. She has shown impeccable leadership skills in regards to restructuring and implementing programs to create a more efficient and high-quality team. She strengthens this by communicating to the team as a whole both formally and informally through town hall meetings, roundtables or newsletters. Through reporting, collaboration and relationship building, she has created an in-house legal service unit which is considered a highly valued expert partner and a challenging control unit, ‘both being essential in today’s environment’. In 2014, she implemented a continuous improvement program centred on process excellence initiatives. Molvidson restructured the unit to improve the span of control and speed of decision making, and has used various staffing options to reduce costs and optimise the use of resources. This includes near shoring and offshoring, as well as balancing the in-house versus external counsel model. She has ensured that matter management systems and billing capabilities have been revised and improved. She has implemented greater transparency around services, billing and demand drivers. In addition, at the end of 2012, Emma implemented an outside counsel management program which established rules for law firm usage and approvals. The purpose of the program is to ensure quality, cost-efficiency and consistency when approving, engaging and managing outside counsel. It also introduced new tailored legal fee control reports and dashboards for both legal and the business. She has been global group counsel for the bank in times when the entire industry has been under challenge, while at the same time, continuing to focus on ‘strategic operational matters with limited resources’. When asked what she enjoys most about her role she says, ‘variety and the intellectual stimulation, but above all the people I work with: my business partners, my team and my colleagues overall’.
Leading sports marketing group Infront deal with a variety of legal and business issues while also experiencing ownership changes in the last few years; in early 2015 they were acquired by the China-based Dalian Wanda Group. The financial and strategic impact of these changes alongside ensuring that the numerous and lucrative commercial agreements are reached smoothly have been challenging but rewarding for Thomas. He particularly enjoys working within a sporting environment, stating that sport ‘affects most of the population on this planet’ being ‘part of our life and culture, actively or passively’. Reflecting both the changing nature of the general counsel role and the motivation to excel, Thomas has explicitly sought to improve non-legal skills with a view to ‘developing a comprehensive understanding of the business’.
Jennifer Parets has shown great talent and diligence in not only her legal work but also in enriching her team’s ability. Her changes have been widespread and holistic, producing results across the company. She has thrived in bolstering the diversity and regulatory reporting of the work force, which has in turn enhanced the value-added proposition to a more tailored legal service for their business clients. From a legal point of view, Jennifer assisted the company in the recovery efforts which allowed them to emerge from the peak of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. She then repositioned the group starting in 2011 through the creation of a new listed holding company and the related transformation of three separate stand-alone core business units; reinsurance, corporate solutions and admin RE. Jennifer concedes that her primary areas of focus has been to, ‘build the talent internally, moving away from the silo specialist areas to a more modern and adaptable technical-expert approach that provides a wider spectrum of coverage for the team’s areas of responsibilities’. Jennifer notes that she ‘accomplished this quite effectively through active rotations within the team and partnering up across technical sub-teams to work more collaboratively. This in turns drives diversity of skill sets’. She has also had a substantial contribution to improve the operational platform through IT solutions that have facilitated sharing information more readily and to generate reports that provide greater insight on the areas covered by the team.
Marc Pfeffer has shown outstanding leadership at his time at Kuehne + Nagel. He successfully led a major re-financing and re-capitalisation of a Swiss listed group. He also made integral changes to the reporting line and internal approach by putting efficient individuals together to create a strong legal team. When asked about external counsel, he comments he would like lawyers to focus more on time and precision and says ‘When I hear - I apologise for my long letter I have no time to write a short one’ - I would like for lawyers to achieve the latter. To be short and precise with a high level of efficiency’.
Since starting at Lindt & Sprungli in 2007, Jennifer Picenoni has made significant changes to the global contract management and IP System. She prides herself in for having built the implementation processes to increase efficiency of the department. Her achievements include the reduction of external costs and implementation enactment of group wide policies in the field of competition, compliance and corporate social responsibility. Picenoni had the task of facilitating the M&A transaction of Russel Stover, which was a US company bought in 2014. When asked what she enjoys most about her role she lists refers to the following aspects, ‘variety of the work, constantly having new challenges, direct contact with the upmost management and board of directors of the company, as well as and the teamwork of the legal team’.
Gianni explains that when he started working at Berenberg Bank in 2010 there was no ‘real’ legal department, requiring him to build from the ground up, creating and he had to build it up and set up structures and efficient, well-functioning processes. His explains that his professional development has been characterised by an early and continuous acceptance of responsibility, first as head of legal and compliance at BHF-BANK (Switzerland) Ltd, and subsequently as general counsel of Berenberg Bank (Schweiz) AG. He has advised the bank in all legal and supervisory matters; this has compromised comprised of drawing up and negotiation of contracts, complaint management, communication and correspondence with authorities and giving legal advice to other bank divisions. In addition to his advisory role he also works on internal improvements by implementing regular staff training, supervising the cross-border banking, and coordinating all relationships with external lawyers. When asked what he enjoys most about his role he says, ‘I appreciate the responsibility and independence I have because it is based on the trust I have earned over the years. Due to my role I am active in many interesting legal areas and I can gain a lot of new experiences and valuable in-depth knowledge’. Speaking of his team he says, ‘I have the opportunity to lead a great team and therefore to be part of a strong unit and to grow also as a person’.
In his time at Swiss Re, Nick Raymond has progressed through different areas of the flagship insurance group, and has played a pivotal role in ‘corporate reorganisation’ that has precipitated change ‘within a legal department which has had to evolve with the business.’ The variety and diversity of his role is self-evident, as he oversees ‘elements in finance, disclosure, collateral management and regulatory insurance’, the mandate having grown incrementally in the last four years. The financial crisis of 2008/09 and its aftermath posed huge challenges for Nick and his team but also a mechanism through which he could show his value; ‘negotiating our way through the uncertainty and trying to keep up with the pace of regulatory change were all things we had to deal with’. Even today, much of the work Nick deals with is still as a result of 2008/09 crisis.
Achievements for Robert are tied up within ‘the revamp of the legal and compliance departments of a large international industrial business with a strong operational culture’ and changing mentalities of those who had ‘little understanding (or sympathy)’ of the utility of these departments. Robert has successfully changed this perception over time, perhaps most evidently by being named as part the group executive committee and that his colleagues lobbied upper management to increase the size of the legal and compliance team. Evidence not just the value of Robert’s work but the recognition of it within the business function. Notable accomplishments in addition to his intra-business efforts include setting up legal, tax and compliance departments in four different groups across four different countries, representing two shareholders of a joint venture (including a sovereign nation) in the recovery of over $1.5bn, co-leading an IPO on the London Stock Exchange and rolling-out a group wide compliance policy across 15 countries.
Richard Rosner prides himself on his recent involvement in successfully completing completion of a complex corporate restructuring procedure and setting up a legal compliance program for the company and its subsidiaries. He had the task of giving in-house legal support towards the award of a major EPC ‘turnkey’ project in a critical phase. He has led a number of strategic projects and handled successful simultaneous support for the purchase of targets in M&A activities. When asked what outside counsel could improve upon Richard says, ‘It might be useful for law firms who want to build a long-term relationship to attend an in-house seminar to get introduced to the industry, just like a newly joining employee would. In particular, they would benefit from understanding the technology, logistics, and value drivers critical to the success of the company’.
Natascia Rubinic has participated in a number of successful large scale legal proceedings on behalf of ABB. This includes a carve-out of a business that was carried out in 30 jurisdictions, compromising 26 legal entities and 27 asset transactions in a record time of three months. Natascia has created a very professional team of lawyers dedicated to and experienced in M&A that are fully embedded in the group M&A processes and ‘work seamlessly as one team together with the other M&A professionals in ABB’. This business alignment and collaboration is something that Natascia has greatly encouraged. In an effort to simplify the very intricate process of an M&A transaction, her team have developed tools and templates to support the M&A efforts of the ABB Group as a whole, but are also very hands-on, accumulating years of transaction experience.
Gunther has shown outstanding initiative and adaptability spanning multiple sectors such as fashion life-style, plant engineering and the carbon industry. He has set up the new legal department at Holy Fashion Group, ‘on a low headcount basis with high leverage and quality’. This project entailed structuring a strategic and innovative trademark portfolio management and procurement process. His list of achievements include winning a ground-breaking case before the Federal Courts of Justice in Germany and legal lead taking the lead in a multimillion-dollar sales project. When asked what he enjoys most about his role Gunther says, ‘being a true business partner by providing economic based and legally solid solutions, which make both sides happy’.
Heading the legal and compliance affairs of this self-described ‘start-up’ Swiss Bank, Flavio started his activities in the role of head of legal and compliance at IG Bank SA less than six months ago. This included overseeing the takeover of a financial company and participating in the set up and launch of the Swiss bank including the request of a banking licence and launch of activities. Having to combine steering this fledgling company through the regulatory minefield that banks face, Flavio also recognises the importance of consistently improving relations with the business and consolidating the strength of the team. He takes the approach of supporting them ‘in their activities and seeing clear results’ and that he ‘wants to be considered as their partner’. In doing so, his lawyers are encouraged to ‘take their responsibility and gain autonomy’, and other colleagues are made aware that the legal team contains people that the wider business ‘can trust’ and from whom they should ‘take advice as often as possible.’
When he joined PPG Industries, Xavier Schops substantially redesigned and expanded the remit of the team on a global scale. He created a powerful compliance function and branched out to double the number of nationalities by creating a team in Russia and Poland. To continually develop the capabilities of the team, he went on to hire diverse talents to help face new challenges such as emerging regions, M&A and regulatory scrutiny; streamlining the organisation, to boosting efficiency and focusing on value-added operations. In his previous two roles, he built a legal team for the Asia-Pacific region that he was managing from Europe. He explains that ‘the regional challenges, the cultural aspects, the size of the region made those team creations very rewarding and a great personal achievement, particularly while seeing those teams flourishing’.
Overseeing the legal affairs of the largest bank in Switzerland, Ueli has used his experience to manage a diverse and evolving legal function that has undergone several structural changes during his eight and a half years at UBS. In March 2013, UBS AG was registered as a dealer with the commodities and trading commission; Ueli oversaw the ‘huge team effort’ to achieve this. Ueli sums up his role (in which ‘no two days are ever the same’) as allowing him to ‘transform team responsibility and work within the investment banking, derivatives and commodity trading fields’ where there is a ‘constant transformation and refocus in terms of the nucleus of what I am responsible for.’ These responsibilities manifest themselves in various ways including ‘conducting business reviews and repositioning the entire business line of commodity trade financial services and products UBS offers’. Off the back of this, his team have also successfully developed two areas within corporate and institutional corporate finance in Switzerland. Ueli was also instrumental in developing the teams’ transformation into a ‘solid back office function’ that has ‘managed to earn a good reputation’ in finance commodity trading, calling the improvement a ‘credit to the teams’ work’. These successes have all come despite being hampered by resource constraints which Ueli cites as being the biggest challenge in his work, particularly the need to ‘make more out of resources, both as a team and personally.’
Before joining Pictet, Nicolas was responsible for growing the legal department at Lombard Odier Investment Managers. The experience has shaped the collaborative and inclusive approach Nicolas carries with him in his work. Heading an internationally focused legal department with members in Geneva, Luxembourg and London, Nicolas and his teams work have to be up to speed every country in which Pictet do business. Nicolas says his most common challenge as striking the correct balance between managing his team and prescribing appropriate and timely advice to support the business function. Alongside his constant efforts to 'build on the past, keep the good people on board and make them evolve', he must also try to 'anticipate problems’ for the company as a whole. He is always conscious that by acting 'too quickly we face the risk of making recommendations that are not mature enough and as a consequence we lose credibility'. Nicolas enjoys being 'in the trenches fighting alongside the business' where he expertly turns legal requirements into pragmatic recommendations for the company. His work is recognised outside of Pictet, having been recently appointed to the board of directors of SFAMA (Swiss Funds and Asset Management Association).
Since joining the firm in 2006, Jordan Urstadt has built the legal department and has created it to focus on ‘those issues where in-house counsel are best positioned to build expertise, namely in knowledge and expertise of the company’. One of the achievements he is most proud of is the role he took in initiating and steering the EMPEA (Emerging Markets Private Equity Association) guidelines for the governments and regulators interested in creating a favourable environment for the private equity. Jordan has steeled the Capital Dynamics legal team with a strong ethos for external counsel partnering: ‘for market expertise in general areas of the law, we do not invest in bringing that expertise in-house expertise because we believe the firm company will be best served by outside counsel instead. The legal department, as a result, is highly focused on managing outside counsel and speaking to corporate issues which has enabled us to provide cost-effective services with a small team for a company of 160 employees’.
‘Being an in-house lawyer is one of the most exciting legal careers one can imagine’, according to Yana Valetta. Including promotions, Yana Valetta has held four different legal roles in eight years, demonstrating not only ambition but also adaptability. In her most recent role at Gate Gourmet, she has successfully embedded the lawyers in the region and allocated clear areas of geographic subject matters and responsibilities. She's directly contributed to the company’s transformation since 2007, namely going from being a privately held company to becoming listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange. Her talent extends to budgeting efficiency too, having implemented a software to track the legal spend in all countries where they operate. On selecting law firms Yana says, ‘I chose law firms very carefully as I view them as the extension of our legal department. Hence, I specifically chose firms whose lawyers have business acumen, are practical and solution-oriented and whose attitude is consistent with our company’s values’.
Award-winning general counsel, Koenraad Van Himbeeck has endeavoured to drive his legal team to excellence since joining Honeywell in 2002. Many of his achievements have revolved around standardisation of processes, and improving the global efficiencies of his team. A prime example of his achievements include working alongside the commercial and engineering team to set up an integral global system to offer Honeywell’s products. He also went on to organise a global risk assessment process and outsourced part of the legal procurement work to emerging regions. He had a leading role in setting-up a management operating system ensuring communication between members of the HTT legal department in Europe, the US and Asia. In addition, he ensured that the new Honeywell compliance system was fully integrated into the business.
Jörg Von Manger-Koenig has played an integral part in growing the legal department into a global heavy function that integrates legal, IP and compliance, regulatory affairs, quality management and human resources. He prides himself in having built a highly respected team, recognised internally and externally, that works to protect the company’s assets. He has made sure legal affairs and compliance are fully integrated in the company's processes, setting up a new and improved kind of communication on compliance matters. His achievements include winning a number of multi-jurisdictional legal cases in the European Court of Justice and facilitating successful M&A deals and restructuring of the corporate set-up in view of tax structure.
In charge of the Swiss legal team of Europe’s largest vending services company, Martin cites the biggest achievement of his in-house career so far as being a key part of the ‘smooth and successful refinancing process of the group’s debt’. The biggest source of enjoyment in his role for Martin is the way that ‘not a single day looks similar to the previous one (different people, different work)’ highlighting the unique nature of the general counsel role.
The ‘implementation of professional and effective legal management within the passenger traffic division of SBB’ to make it a solution-driven, knowledgeable, business-enabler is the way Mark Wegmüller describes the legal function at SBB, Switzerland’s national railway company. The team consists of ‘competent, business-oriented and solution-oriented attorneys’ in a company where heads of each legal department have a ‘close advisory function to the respective management board.’ This implicit trust, combined with Mark’s success in conducting international transactions, reaching complex commercial settlements and closing new agreements with contracting parties, demonstrates his value both as both a lawyer and business advisor. With regards to usage of external counsel, Mark sees his private practice counterparts as ‘partners’ who have high expertise in their respective fields of law. He calls on them to work in a ‘highly professional way, and be rapidly available’. He stresses the importance of the quality of advice, saying he wants ‘no platinum but only gold’ when it comes to the service he receives. For him, it’s crucial that counsel also ‘receive the culture and processes of the company with its management and employees’.
Switzerland: An Overview
A dramatic change to monetary policy and a systemic overhaul of financial services regulation in progress mean the Swiss legal market is experiencing upheaval not witnessed for generations.
When even that most venerable of Swiss industries, watchmaking, comes under threat, you know the country has a problem. But this proved to be the case in the early weeks of 2015: global brand Swatch saw its share price slump 15% after the Swiss National Bank (SNB) announced on 15 January that it would abandon the cap on the Swiss franc against the euro that it first introduced in September 2011. Keeping the franc at CHF1.20 to the euro had became increasingly expensive for the SNB, as it sold its own currency and bought up euros, sterling, US and Canadian dollars and yen, usually in the form of government bonds. Many were shocked by the move, which has left investors worrying that with the CHF now floating against the euro, Swiss companies will struggle to maintain export levels. Swatch chief executive Nick Hayek called the decision ‘a tsunami’ for Switzerland’s economy. Mark Haefele, chief investment officer of UBS, has estimated that the policy will cost Swiss exporters close to CHF5bn (£3.3bn), equivalent to 0.7% of Swiss economic output.
So far most of the discussion around the SNB’s move has focused on industrial exporters, tourism and retail, all of which undoubtedly will be the hardest hit. But there will also be a significant impact on the professional services sector, which constitutes at least one fifth of Switzerland’s economy. The SNB’s move will no doubt put substantial parts of the sector under financial pressure, raising questions as to what this will mean for the legal industry in a country that has arguably not experienced such turmoil in peace time. Switzerland, as with a number of other European nations, has been the subject of much hyperbole around a supposed recent M&A boom. But while there is some substance to these claims, a few headline transactions flatter to deceive.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index last year, found Switzerland to be the most competitive economy in which to do business for the sixth consecutive year.
According to the report’s author, World Economic Forum executive chairman Klaus Schwab, Switzerland, with GDP growth that has consistently outpaced that of other advanced economies, is successful thanks largely to labour market efficiency and the sophistication of its business sector. In what many see as very timely, given the SNB’s recent decision, the Swiss government had in 2014 already published drafts of three new statutes with the intention of completely overhauling the existing Swiss financial market regulation.
Although the drafts are still under consultation and need to go through the full legislative process, which is expected to be completed by 2019, the new regulation on financial market infrastructures could come into force as early as 2016.
As it stands, Swiss financial market regulation is largely product- or sector-oriented. While some financial products, services and institutions – in particular in the areas of banking, insurance, funds, and securities dealing – are regulated by various disparate acts and ordinances. Other areas – including asset management, advisory services, and structured products – remain entirely, or largely, unregulated. The new regulation aims to introduce new architecture that implements the ‘same business, same rules’ principle across the financial industry. At the same time, the Swiss government wants to send out a clear message of transparency and inclusivity by aligning the new regulation more closely to international standards, in particular EU rules. Four laws will constitute the core of this new horizontal financial market regulation. These are: the existing Financial Market Supervision Act (FINMAG); the Federal Financial Services Act (FIDLEG); the Financial Market Infrastructure Act (FINFRAG); and the new Financial Institutions Act (FINIG).
FINMAG established the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) – a single, integrated supervisory authority across different sectors, which continues to carry out banking and insurance supervision functions but is also responsible for antimoney laundering control. FINMA is also responsible for implementing FINMAG and financial market legislation in general.
The proposed drafts of FINFRAG, FINIG and FIDLEG will partially amend the existing FINMAG. Discussed key amendments are the extension of prudential supervision to all Swiss asset managers, as well as new, more relaxed rules for FINMA to transfer information cross-border for the purpose of enforcing financial market regulations.
The new FIDLEG legislation proposes to comprehensively govern the provision of financial services and the product documentation for financial instruments. It will apply across all financial services sectors, whenever they are providing services, or distributing, issuing or offering products that are within its remit.
The draft FINFRAG provides for a consolidated and comprehensive set of rules for the supervision of financial market infrastructures. It also introduces new regulations and obligations for market participants in the area of derivatives trading, substantially in line with the European Union (EU) and US regulations. Finally, the draft FINIG introduces a differentiated supervisory and regulatory regime for financial institutions that provide asset management services to third parties.
Consensus is that the new regulations will fundamentally change the legal framework for any participant in the Swiss financial market, regardless of whether it is a Swiss or a foreign entity. Current business models will need to be evaluated as to the extent they need to be adapted to comply with the new rules and, by default, this will generate a significant amount of work for the Swiss legal sector.
Extract taken from Legal Business magazine, March 2015. For further information, please visit: www.legalbusiness.co.uk
Catrina Luchsinger Gähwiler, Managing Partner at Froriep:
FRORIEP is delighted to be the sponsor of the inaugural Swiss GC Powerlist. On behalf of the team at FRORIEP, congratulations to each and everyone who has been included in this very first Powerlist for Switzerland!
Switzerland has always been an important hub for international corporations driving innovation not only from a business perspective, but also in legal and compliance matters. The fact that the Swiss corporate counsels who are at the heart of these processes are receiving international recognition is an honour to all legal professionals in Switzerland. Making it into the top 100 is an achievement as Switzerland houses many of the largest international firms with dedicated in-house legal teams.
Perseverance, innovation and outstanding abilities to develop strategic approaches to the questions raised are required by good corporate counsels. In our daily experience with the in-house legal teams of our clients we see the challenges they face, which go way beyond answering legal questions. They are playing an increasingly important role in risk management processes and are involved in material operational decision taking. This requires responsibility and foresight. In a time of ever changing regulatory requirements not only within Switzerland but globally, being a corporate counsel is a truly challenging job.
This also applies to being the external legal counsel to an in-house legal team. Knowledge of the law and precision in applying such laws in contracts and the like is clearly not sufficient anymore. The needs of the client and the legal team dealing with the legal issues are dictated first and fore-most by the client's internal business requirements. In order to be able to serve these in-house legal teams it is our goal at FRORIEP to always also understand the business issues of the client which lead to the questions raised as well as the cultural aspects of the client's in-house communication. This knowledge enables us to provide a product which matches the needs of the in-house legal team. It is important to us that this understanding for a corporate counsel's requirements is already cultivated among the associates and we therefore actively support secondments of our associates to our clients' legal teams.
Switzerland is facing challenges in its international relationships and there are global challenges which have repercussions on our country. All of these directly reflect on the experiences Swiss corporations are making in their international business. In such an environment cross-fertilisation among corporate counsels can provide support and help find innovative, sustainable solutions. The same goes for collaborations between corporate counsels and law firms as the latter benefit from insight into a large variety of corporations. As one of the larger law firms in Switzerland we have gained this insight in close to fifty years of working with corporate clients and are happy to exchange views and share our knowledge and best practice.
We look forward to meeting the corporate counsels who made it into the first GC Powerlist, be it on the job or otherwise!
GC Powerlist is a trading name of The Legal 500 Series and Legalease Ltd, and operates in multiple legal jurisdictions world wide.