Rising stars: GCs of tomorrow
Deputy general counsel
Last year, Mark Oliver was promoted to the role of deputy general counsel (GC) at Heathrow Airport, where he supports GC Carol Hui. A commercial lawyer by trade, Oliver’s role has broadened to include working with the communications office on matters surrounding the airport’s construction of a third runway. He is, says Tom Bray of Eversheds Sutherland, ‘dedicated, focused and particularly adept at handling internal stakeholders, as recently evidenced by the excellent relationships he has forged with other parts of the business. He is also excellent at managing
panel firm lawyers in an open, straightforward and transparent manner. This allows an external lawyer to provide the best advice for the business, knowing exactly what is required.’ Hui says Oliver’s support has been invaluable in a number of recent projects, including the recently announced franchise deal granting Great Western Railway (GWR) operation of the Heathrow Express rail service. ‘He is not only an excellent lawyer but a dedicated partner to the business’, says Hui. ‘His sense
of humour and pleasant manner have won him lots of supporters and he is showing all the characteristics you would expect to see in a GC of the future.
General counsel – corporate and Legal & General Capital
Legal & General
One of the distinguishing features of the Legal & General in-house team, says group GC Geo rey Timms, is its close involvement in transactional work. Claire Singleton, who handles all the company’s significant M&A deals, has been a particularly important figure. Last year she ran Legal& General’s sale of its Mature Savings unit to Swiss Re, a £650m disposal. ‘Claire was the absolute fulcrum of that deal,’ says Timms. ‘Her involvement was not restricted to the legal aspects of the sale. Right from the genesis to the closure, she was the point person who made it run. That’s what makes her such a great member of the team – she makes the machine work.’ In her role as GC of Legal & General Capital, Singleton oversees the bulk of the company’s real estate portfolio and was closely involved in the acquisition of CALA Homes, the UK’s tenth-largest housebuilder. ‘She is greatly admired by senior colleagues, including [chief executive] Nigel Wilson,’ adds Timms. ‘She has an inner steel but acts in a way that doesn’t alienate people. That is a rare combination of qualities and it helps her take people along with her through the various stages of a project.’ Wilson says Singleton has played a ‘pivotal role’ in transforming the business, adding: ‘She is so good at complex M&A that people have almost forgotten how complicated these transactions are. We used to run bulk purchase annuity deals with an average size of £10m, now it is taken as the norm for us to run a £4bn deal.’
General counsel, legal head of global categories and R&D
GSK Consumer Healthcare
Described as ‘a FTSE GC in the making’ by Allen & Overy partner Matthew Appleton, Neil Laventure heads legal for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, global categories and R&D at the consumer healthcare division of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Until last year, Laventure was based in GSK’s Singapore offices, where – says Ed Barnett of Latham & Watkins – he ‘achieved a great deal for the business and showed himself to be a real talent’. Brian Sher of CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang adds that Laventure has
‘demonstrated a number of qualities which mark him out as outstanding. He has excellent management skills. People want to be in his team and to work with him and for him. He is also very sophisticated in his approach to commissioning external advice, including breaking projects up into their constituent parts. This makes him second to none when it comes to translating complex legal opinions into practical, commercial advice. Above all, he has a massive dose of common sense that helps him succeed’.
Associate general counsel
– new energies
Susannah Collier won wider recognition from external peers. As Shell moves its focus towards the renewables industry, Collier has effectively transitioned out of an oil and gas background into having a good technical grasp of renewables in a short space of time. She was also heavily involved in Shell’s successful bid for Borssele III and IV offshore windfarms in the Netherlands and its acquisition of First Utility in the UK. Eversheds Sutherland partner Michelle Davies comments: ‘Collier is very well liked across her team and is seen as an embodiment of the best of Shell’s wider corporate values. She’s been successful in attracting some of the best of Shell’s in-house talent into her team as it has grown. She also speaks passionately and knowledgeably about the business drivers within Shell’s strategy.’
Deputy head of legal
Land Securities Group
Thanks to a strong performance on one of Land Securities’ biggest mandates in 2017, Ian Petts is singled out as an outstanding figure in a quality legal team. Deputy head of legal since 2014, Petts was instrumental in securing the opening of Westgate shopping centre, a £440m joint venture with fellow property developer The Crown Estate. Tim Ashby, Landsec’s group GC, comments: ‘It was a long process with masses of work, but he ran it confidently. Ian Petts stands out.’
Senior legal counsel
The Financial Times
Kendra James is senior counsel in The Financial Times (FT) legal team, where she advises on intellectual property, commercial transactions and brand strategy and manages the FT’s worldwide trade mark and domain name portfolios. Ian Gruselle of Bristows, who supports James on trade mark work, says: ‘She is quick to understand issues concerning the clients’ rights, whether it is in China, the Middle East, Europe or the Americas, taking strategic decisions to make sure that the FT remains an iconic brand protected around the world.’ GC Dan Guildford highlights the important role she plays in the company: ‘The FT is recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy of news reporting, and her brand protection work, which includes creating and implementing internal brand policies and guidelines, is therefore hugely important to our business.’ James also advises on print and distribution relationships around the world, strategic commercial partnerships, advertising and marketing matters, brand updates and refreshes, and key advertising campaigns (including the FT’s current ‘black and white’ campaign). She established the legal team’s first work experience programme, which aims to give university-level students from wider backgrounds insight into in-house legal work, and is involved in the FT’s Seasonal Appeal, which raises donations and awareness for charities. Before joining the FT in 2015, James held roles with the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland, LOCOG (the organising committee for the London 2012 games) and the Jamie Oliver Media Group.
The Skyscanner legal team has been a prominent supporter of local talent, running monthly drop-in clinics for companies a liated with Edinburgh-basedtech incubator CodeBase .Building these relationships has in turn allowed GC Carolyn Jameson to bring new skills and
approaches to the legal team. Last year, Anoop Joshi joined Skyscanner from Brodies. A former software developer at CodeBase, Joshi’s intellectual property and IT law expertise is combined with practical experience of a variety of coding languages. ‘Finding a lawyer with that background is a godsend,’ says Jameson. ‘Matching those
skills with commercial nous really sets [Joshi] apart.’ Joshi has taken on a broad role at Skyscanner and is currently helping Jameson to implement a GDPR compliance strategy across the business. ‘Everyone who works with him realises at once how smart he is,’ adds Jameson. ‘He is a wise head on young shoulders but is also very sparky and dynamic. I would describe him as a model in-house lawyer in the tech sector.’
Angelique de Lafontaine
Senior legal adviser
International healthcare company Bupa recently launched a digital innovation
incubator called Blue Table, supported by Bupa Customer Lab. The initiative offers start-ups and small businesses a chance to pilot ideas inside Bupa over a ten-week programme, with Bupa looking for innovations that address customer challenges in insurance and health. Bupa senior legal adviser Angelique de Lafontaine has been the
legal lead for the incubator and worked closely with it throughout the last year. ‘She’s been a key part in developing strategic partnerships in the innovation space,’ Bupa chief legal o cer Penny Dudley says. ‘What makes me really pleased about Angelique’s contribution is that she’s been part of an agile team that has been involved in a [digital] journey from the very beginning – her work has been critical for us.’
Head of labour law
In early 2017, BAE Systems chief executive Ian King announced he would be retiring after nearly a decade in charge of the global defence giant. The company simultaneously confirmed that its chief operating officer, Charles Woodburn, would take on the top job from 1 July, having joined the company less than a year earlier. The ensuing management restructuring came with a huge amount of employment law work, led by BAE’s head of labour law, Victoria Halliday. Group GC Philip Bramwell is full of praise for his Australian employment head, who has simultaneously been leading the first phase of BAE’s GDPR compliance. He comments: ‘Victoria has just had an enormous workload over the last year. Of the number of lawyers that I worry are doing too many hours, Victoria is up there.’
Jonathan Keen is senior counsel at Dialight, a FTSE-listed technology company specialising in electrical products. Before joining Dialight in 2017, Keen served as assistant GC at biotech company Vectura Group, where he oversaw its merger with Skyepharma to create a new business with a market cap in excess of £1bn. Trevor Phillips, executive chair of hVIVO Services and former chief operating officer of Vectura, says Keen was ‘fundamental in providing both legal and business advice during one of the most important years of the organisation’s history’, adding: ‘Rarely, if ever, have I come across as good a strategic thinking young lawyer.’ Paul Ranson, former GC of Vectura, says Keen ‘demonstrated an ability to take on an exceptionally high level of responsibility for someone of his experience – something that was only possible through the high levels of trust that I and the CFO had in his professional judgement’. Keen recently founded a new industry group, Next Generation Counsel, which seeks to prepare young lawyers for life in-house.
Team Elite: ENERGY