The Legal 500’s Guide to Australia’s Rising Stars
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The Legal 500’s Guide to Australia’s Rising Stars
Despite the exponential growth of The Legal 500’s in-house research in the past few years, including three consecutive titles in the GC Powerlist series that cover the Australian market, the plethora of in-house legal talent in Australia demands even further coverage. Therefore, in this new project, rather than simply highlighting corporate counsel that have been established as having reached the top of their profession, we have concentrated on those in-house lawyers who are demonstrating capabilities for these positions in the near future. ...read more
The term “rising star” is loosely defined as a “person or thing that is growing quickly in importance in a particular field”. Whilst it in some ways has been more challenging putting this shortlist together than our traditional research, it provides an opportunity to recognise and highlight the outstanding work being done underneath the chief legal officer, general counsel or legal director level, as well as to identify where the market is heading and which practitioners are pushing these boundaries.
The in-house lawyers featured in this publication have different types of legal and business expertise, work across different market sectors and often deal with different challenges. The diversity of inclusions is also seen through the varying amounts of experience of lawyers on the shortlist, which ranges from senior legal counsels overseeing sub teams to those with only a handful of years of post-qualified experience. The overarching theme tying them all together however, is that they are each projected to be future leaders of the Australian in-house legal industry in some form, and have demonstrated this ability and potential to our team of researchers.
Our criteria and metrics for selection were not specific, but each shortlisted counsel had to prove that they fulfilled the profile of a rising star. In some cases this was demonstrated through rapid progression at the beginning of an in-house career or through a company’s legal department, recognition from peers and colleagues and the wider industry press, or simply having an impact that proves their ability to confront existing issues and be prepared for future ones that will define the practice of the law or the development of the role of the in-house legal counsel.
After an exhaustive research period involving conversations with our extensive network of senior in-house counsel and private practice lawyers, we have identified legal professionals who we believe have demonstrated the potential of being at the forefront of the in-house legal market in Australia in the future. These talented, upcoming in-house lawyers are projected to soon be the torchbearers at the vanguard of the market in their respective sectors and the industry as a whole, defining, leading, and practising on the most important legal discussions that will define and shape the legal and business environment in years to come.
I would like to thank our sponsor DLA Piper for supporting this publication, and a hearty congratulations to all those shortlisted and recognised as one of Australia’s rising stars in the in-house legal market.
The Legal 500’s Guide to Australia’s Rising Stars
(listed in alphabetical order; click on an individual to view an expanded biography)
Haylen Ann Pong
Senior legal counsel
Senior commercial counsel – operations and technology
QBE Insurance Group Limited
Associate director, loans and specialised finance, loan structuring and execution
Corporate legal counsel
Legal head of property
Senior legal counsel – group insurance
Senior corporate lawyer and assistant company secretary
Lawyer, dispute resolution
Senior legal counsel
SBS (Special Broadcasting Service)
Senior legal counsel, Australia and New Zealand
Senior corporate counsel and company secretary
Dentsu Aegis Network
Deputy general counsel, regulatory investigations and dispute resolution
Senior legal counsel
Senior legal counsel
Director, real estate and special counsel
Senior legal counsel
Corporate legal counsel
Senior legal counsel
Springfield City Group
University of Tasmania
Senior legal counsel – manufacturing and logistics
Senior legal counsel – retail insurance
Senior legal counsel
Senior legal counsel and assistant company secretary
Employment counsel (ANZ)
Senior legal counsel
Senior legal counsel – employment law
Senior legal counsel
Deputy general counsel – IP and projects
Executive manager, legal
Group manager legal
Catherine Morrongiello Conte
Senior corporate counsel and privacy officer
Counsel and manager
Acting deputy general counsel – projects
Transport for NSW
Vice president – intellectual property and business partner strategy and ventures
Deputy general counsel and assistant company secretary
Head of legal WA iron ore and nickel west
Senior legal counsel and assistant company secretary
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Senior legal counsel, global banking
HSBC Bank Australia Limited
Senior legal counsel
Senior legal counsel and company secretary
KUFPEC Australia (KAPL)
Legal manager, shipping and marketing
Fortescue Metals Group
Associate general counsel
Sibelco Australia and New Zealand
Senior legal counsel
General manager legal – corporate and commercial
Bank of Queensland (BOQ)
Senior legal counsel and company secretary
Senior legal manager
PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand
Senior legal counsel
ENGIE Australia and New Zealand
Associate employment counsel, Asia Pacific and Japan
Haylen Pong’s in-house experience began in Salmat, an ASX-listed marketing company. ‘Very early into my tenure I became an integral part of the legal team, created enduring working relationships across different business streams, and was invited to become a legal partner within the digital leadership team, which was an unprecedented event’, says Pong. During her time at Salmat, she received consistent acknowledgement from the business and executive team, and was awarded with the employee of the year award for 2017. Externally, she was presented with multiple awards from legal industry association and press in Australia as one of the country’s brightest young lawyers. Since January 2018 she has held a legal counsel position at Nearmap, an ASX-listed aerial imagery and technology company. ‘At Nearmap, my experience was developed through an involvement in senior management and operational matters, including negotiation of strategic deals within ANZ and US regions to expand internationally, and advising Nearmap’s board of directors and executive team on cyber security, risk governance, and compliance matters, including implementation of a new risk management framework’, Pong explains. Pong has proactively initiated to the executive and board the implementation of this new risk management framework, which consisted of cross-functional and cross-regional communication and fertilisation of skills in problem resolution. When discussing the support she would like to see rising in-house lawyers receive from senior management she explains: ‘Senior lawyers should encourage or nurture rising stars to develop lateral skill sets outside of their comfort zone or basic legal responsibilities and skills. This could include development of business acumen and interdisciplinary operational capabilities, or managing and implementing complex projects across multiple jurisdictions and business units’.
Alex Butterworth serves as senior legal counsel at McDonald’s Australia, the Australian branch of the world’s leading foodservice retailer, working on legal issues around marketing, sponsorship, IT contracts, digital projects, and copyright and trade mark protection. Having joined McDonald’s in 2016 and being promoted to senior legal counsel just one year later, Butterworth is a highly-regarded legal counsel among his peers, described as ‘hardworking, organised, efficient’ and praised for his ability to ‘master the balance of management of legal exposure and necessity to meet desired business outcomes, bringing expertise and agility’. As senior legal counsel, Butterworth has advised on a range of key business matters, including completing the agreement between McDonald’s and Uber Eats to launch the new McDelivery strategy in Australia, a major deal to on-board Q.sic as the preferred background music supplier in McDonald’s restaurants, as well as dealing with Telstra to deploy fibre optic cable to McDonald’s restaurants nationally. Butterworth views the mentoring and coaching he’s provided to Angela Mansour, a junior legal counsel within his team, as the proudest achievement of his in-house career so far, saying: ‘She has progressed at a rapid rate in the company, mostly due to her own amazing attitude, commitment and effort, but also partly with my coaching and support’. Talking about the topics and trends he feels that will have the greatest impact on his career, Butterworth highlights two main areas: demographics and technology. During his time at law school and throughout his legal career, he has seen an increasing number of women and ethnic minorities in the legal industry, which ‘are undeniably making a difference to the culture of the legal profession overall. Broader demographics are encouraging a more merit-based approach, diversity of thinking and opinions, and improved access to legal institutions’, he comments. The changing demographics are occurring alongside major technological changes, according to Butterworth: ‘Contract reviews, due diligence, and discovery are becoming increasingly automated via machine reading and machine learning, and eventually artificial intelligence. Likewise there are more self-service legal agreements and digital signing processes being used in business. Overall these trends are having a positive effect by increasing access to legal documents, support and advice, making them more affordable, and spending less time on large monotonous tasks, and more time on high value advice and strategic planning’. He also addresses the understanding of technology as a key skill that GCs of the future will need in order to successfully advise businesses, stating: ‘This knowledge isn’t just needed to advise clients, but to run a legal practice or in-house team effectively, to understand the real risks in a business strategy or project, and to function in a world where technology is integrated into everyday life’. Commenting on how to convert ‘rising stars’ to in-house legal industry leaders, Butterworth feels the ability to manage the team well and the relationship with senior commercial executives is key for success.
Kirsty Cargill has been described by nominators as ‘a talented lawyer’ who has led large telecommunications projects including a global data and analytics platform, global telecommunications deals and transformation projects. Cargill amassed abundant experience in top law firms in Australia and London before making the jump in-house. Having joined the QBE global technology legal team three years ago, Cargill has led some of the largest projects and has supported important strategic group transformation projects. More recently, Cargill led the technology legal aspects of the divestment of QBE’s Latin American operations. This was a critical strategic priority for QBE in 2017/18. Noted for her contribution to the team, one nominator says: ‘Cargill is a rising star in the team and a mentor to other lawyers in the group legal and global team. She is a great contributor to our global precedents and is a trusted advisor to our global operations and technology clients’. Prior to joining QBE, Cargill served as a legal counsel at financial technology firm Dealogic.
Barbara Carroll has gained experience as a banking and finance lawyer having acted on a range of high value and complex transactions. She currently serves as an associate director, at the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) within the new loans and specialised finance, loan structuring and execution division. She has extensive experience in syndicated, club and bilateral transactions and her main areas of experience include property finance, corporate finance and trade finance. Carroll has spent time on secondment at one of Australia’s largest banks and has previously worked overseas in Moscow. During her career she has practiced at a number of international law firms, namely Henry Davis York, Clifford Chance, Norton Rose Fulbright and DLA Piper. She regularly advises major domestic and international banks as well as corporate borrowers.
Lena Chapple is a part of the Thales Group legal and contracts team, an international network of commercial, contracts, trade, compliance, and legal professionals, who are at the heart of the strategic and business decision-making of the organisation. Thales is a global technology company, with the combined expertise of over 80,000 employees, across 68 countries, servicing five key sectors: aerospace, space, transport, digital identity and security, and defence and security. Thales’ areas of operation require a highly skilled legal division, competent in a cross-border context, which Chapple contributes to with her involvement in major projects, M&A, corporate governance, dispute resolution, and other aspects of commercial law. Chapple also heads up personal data protection for Thales in Australia, and is deeply involved in the company’s digital transformation, as well as its diversity and inclusion and environmental initiatives. Chapple’s private practice experience was predominately at DLA Piper, where she worked on some of the most significant dispute resolution mandates in Asia Pacific, primarily in the areas of infrastructure, construction, energy, and public international law. She has acted for clients in various forums, including litigation, arbitration, and the first ever UNCLOS compulsory conciliation proceeding, which resulted in the historic treaty between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, establishing their maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea. In parallel, Chapple has also acted on a significant portfolio of pro bono matters across Asia Pacific, and has contributed to numerous legal publications. Chapple has developed a reputation for tackling complex matters through a diverse and strategic lens, capitalising on her unique experience to achieve impressive outcomes for her business and clients.
Tammi Chau is the legal head of property at McDonald’s Australia, providing legal advice on a range of matters, including overseeing and supporting the national development group (NDG) on all development, design, construction, real estate and planning related-issues and supporting the delivery of new restaurant openings. She joined the company in 2005 as legal counsel and was promoted to senior legal counsel in 2010, before being appointed to her current strategic advisory role in 2018. Recently Chau has worked with Stockland on the redevelopment of McDonald’s Parramatta North restaurant, an exciting new multimillion-dollar urban project. During her time at McDonald’s, some of Chau’s proudest achievements include: the successful insourcing of development legal work which included recruitment and training of five lawyers, all without any previous in-house experience; the creation of a legal induction manual and induction training session for the new lawyers; the successful transitioning of work externally to in-house, and change management within the business, in particular, the NDG. Additionally, she created a set of core standards and guidelines to be used across McDonald’s Australia as well as the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions by development lawyers and managers to ensure consistency in decisions and better, longer term outcomes. This has since been rolled out across all McDonald’s markets globally. In Chau’s view, ‘resourcing continues to be the biggest challenge for in-house lawyers. As companies continue to reduce costs, they look for employees to do more with less. This remains so true with lawyers. With continuing reductions on general and administrative expenses and funding, in-house lawyers face the challenge of staying ahead of the game in terms of new technology available in the market and how they can be leveraged to create more efficiencies and support the work being completed in-house’. Talking about the skills she thinks that general counsel of the future will need to successfully advise businesses, she comments: ‘Staying on top of legal changes that are occurring in the industry. General counsel will need to be savvy and move with technology in order to stay relevant and competitive, otherwise they run of the risk of falling behind’. (After the research deadline passed, Chau moved on to take a role leading Woolworths supermarket developments legal arm.)
Steve Clayton works as a legal counsel at AIA Australia, and is described by a nominating source as a ‘leadership focused corporate lawyer who specialises in group life insurance and has broad experience in financial services, superannuation and general corporate and commercial matters’. As a young lawyer, Clayton has already been recognised within the industry, having received multiple in-house awards in Australia. Clayton began his current role with AIA Australia in 2015, where he has been acting as a trusted adviser to AIA Australia’s market leading group insurance channel, advising on a variety of complex legal issues. These include group life insurance distribution arrangements, market leading product innovations, innovative technology and outsourcing projects, and high profile regulatory matters. He also supports AIA Australia’s technology, people and culture functions and has successfully advised on a number of innovative projects. In his current role, Clayton helped AIA Australia achieve quality results including the renewal and retention of group insurance clients REST and Sunsuper, and as lead counsel on successful tender and implementation for HESTA, which helped AIA Australia attain the number one position in the Australian group insurance market. He has also worked on AIA Group’s A$3.8bn proposed acquisition of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s life insurance businesses in Australia and New Zealand and entering into 20-year bancassurance partnership, including acting as lead counsel negotiating key technology contracts, and assisting with drafting and negotiating transaction documents and managing external counsel. Additionally, Clayton acted as lead Australian counsel on important group-wide technology, outsourcing and offshoring projects, including the upgrade and enhancement of AIA’s actuarial software, procurement and contract management systems, and data centres, involving extensive negotiation of agreements and submissions to AIA Australia’s board and APRA, and the successful trial of IBM Watson in call centres. Commenting on recent topics and trends, Clayton says: ‘The Royal Commission into banking and financial services showed us all that community trust in large corporations in Australia is at an all-time low. As legal advisors we’re in the privileged position of being able to guide ethical decision-making to rebuild trust and protect against reputational damage. Taking a lead in this area is something I think our clients have come to expect from us as in-house lawyers and I expect this trend to continue’. He also thinks that ‘senior leaders need to take steps to create clearly defined career paths for junior lawyers and provide opportunities for career development. For example, through AIA Australia’s PLT program I’ve had the opportunity to directly supervise junior lawyers which has given me valuable exposure to managing people at an early stage of my career’. According to Clayton, general counsels of the future will need to be willing and able to adapt. ‘Flexibility to advise across a wide range of matters has always been important for in-house lawyers but the key is being able to adapt to industry trends so that we can continue to deliver value for our clients in ways that are relevant and recognisable to them. For example, if your business implements a strategy that emphasises the use of data, consider implementing a data based solution for legal services so you can show that your team is aligned with the business’s strategy. This will assist your team with delivering value in a way that is clear to the business’, he states.
Sarah Croft began her career at King & Wood Mallesons in Melbourne in 2009 (then Mallesons Stephen Jaques). After three years at KWM, she relocated to Perth and joined Clayton Utz, where she worked until joining CBH Group in 2014. While in private practice, she was an M&A lawyer with a strong focus on energy and resources transactions and projects. From 2010 to 2011, much of her time was spent working on the QCLNG project in Queensland (acting for QGC, an Australian subsidiary of British Gas). In Western Australia, she worked on the establishment of the joint venture between Yara, Orica and Apache to build and operate an ammonium nitrate plant on the Burrup Peninsula (acting for Yara, as the plant’s operator). Her recent transactional highlights include CBH Group’s acquisition of Blue Lake Milling, an oats business in South Australia, the construction of an oat processing mill at CBH’s Metro Grain Centre in Forrestfield, WA (through BLM, post-acquisition), and establishing CBH Group’s new business operations in Krasnodar, Russia – involving grain accumulation and export subsidiary. Croft also leads on CBH Group’s industrial relations issues including negotiation and management of enterprise agreements across CBH’s grain port terminals and up-country receiver sites, and advises on construction projects to implement CBH’s network strategy. These include site upgrade and expansion to add more than 1.5 million tonnes of storage capacity to CBH’s network through over 20 projects. Croft was selected as one of only two women at CBH to represent the business at Deloitte’s 2018 Resourceful Women leadership programme, and demonstrates the attributes of a rising star within the in-house legal industry. Croft identifies the growing role of an in-house counsel and the need for in-house lawyers to take greater responsibility in advising businesses across the whole spectrum of legal issues facing the company. She explains that it is now the case – and will continue to be, even more so – that in-house counsel must be true generalists, adept at advising on all legal issues while having an in-depth commercial understanding of the business and macro and micro market forces. She highlights that ‘a close relationship of mentor/mentee between general counsel and members of their legal team is fundamental to see “rising stars” develop into legal industry leaders. The transition from private practice to in-house can sometimes be difficult, but having a direct manager who invests themselves in their staff is critical. More broadly, having informal mentoring relationships with senior management in the business who I look to as role models, and developing networks amongst sector peers through programmes such as Deloitte’s Resourceful Women leadership programme, has been invaluable. More broadly, as leaders in the business, general counsels should look to lead by example to positively influence an organisational culture which is built on core values such as integrity, respect, diversity, and safety’.
Tina Davey joined AIA Australia (AIAA) as senior legal counsel in April 2016. She provides strategic legal support to AIAA’s group insurance channel and shared services teams, and is also the lead lawyer on AIAA’s acquisition of CommInsure. In the words of a nominator, ‘Davey is a highly versatile lawyer and works across a wide range of practice areas including M&A, insurance, superannuation, financial services, contract, employment, privacy and IT’. Prior to joining AIAA, Davey gained valuable transactional experience working as legal counsel at National Australia Bank. Her extensive experience has been acknowledged by her being noted as an expert in-house banking and finance lawyer. She commenced her career at Ashurst and was appointed as senior associate after just 3.5 years’ post-admission experience. The nominator adds that Davey is ‘regularly recognised by key stakeholders in the business for the quality of her work, sound judgement, and for being responsive, calm, approachable and easy to work with’. She quickly established herself as a key contact for important stakeholders at the company (including members of the executive committee and other senior leaders) and instils trust and confidence through her strong legal, communication and relationship skills. The nominator continues: ‘She is always willing to help the business with any queries, has an advanced ability to think innovatively, strategically and commercially, is solutions focused and openly embraces technical, new and challenging work. She is also a positive role model for more junior lawyers and is committed to making a difference. She encourages and influences junior lawyers at AIAA by providing positive and constructive feedback and guidance and ensuring that their professional skills continue to develop’. One of Davey’s key achievements include acting as lead lawyer on AIAA’s acquisition of Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s life insurance business in Australia (CommInsure) which (subject to regulatory approval) is due to complete in 2019, and also involves entry into a 20-year strategic bancassurance partnership. This included taking a key role in negotiating transaction documents, engaging with regulators to obtain approvals and assisting with integration activities. She has provided critical legal support to enable AIAA to achieve above-target financial results and the number one position in the Australian group insurance market, including supporting the successful renewal and retention of its top group insurance clients and successful tenders for two major new clients (HESTA and the Mercer Superannuation Trust). Davey supported the launch and expansion of shared value initiatives and market-leading product innovations, such as AIA’s Vitality program and innovative income protection product designs. AIA Vitality is a health and wellness program that rewards customers for making healthy lifestyle changes. Davey has been fundamental in facilitating the expansion of AIA Vitality into new distribution channels, including to one of Australia’s largest industry superannuation funds. Davey highlights changes that she believes will be part of the in-house legal market in the near future. She says that, ‘I think those of us in the financial services industry are already well accustomed to constant scrutiny and regulatory reform, but there has been a noticeable increase in activity following the Royal Commission and preceding reviews and inquiries which I expect will continue. The nature of the work in-house lawyers are doing is shifting – it is not necessarily a strict legal interpretation that is required; there is much more focus on whether we are doing “the right thing in the right way” and considering community expectations, rather than whether we can legally do something. The in-house team will be key stakeholder in championing to rebuild community trust and respect for the industry. I also hope to see an increase in the number of female general counsels’. Davey also identifies that she has benefitted from a fantastic support system within AIA. She says that, ‘my legal and business peers have played a crucial role in my career progression so far. Support can take many forms, but in my mind the following are fundamental. As business partners your commercial stakeholders need to be advocates for you and proactively seek you out or put your name forward as someone who has a valuable point of view to contribute to a discussion. Business partners also play a key role in providing feedback, ensuring that lawyers are delivering legal support in a way that works for the business’. An aspiring general counsel ‘should be someone who will push you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to throw your hat in the ring when opportunities arise and recognise and reward your efforts. You need your people leader to be someone who takes a real interest in your career development and genuinely delights in seeing you succeed and advocating for your development and promotion’. Touted as a rising star in particular for her expertise and understanding of the evolution of the general counsel role, Davey highlights that general counsel must be ‘“more than just a lawyer” – needing to demonstrate sound business acumen and judgment, have an innate understanding of the broader company strategy (and the legal team’s role in that strategy) and bring a cross-functional perspective to their work, [and] also need to be great leaders who are able to empower their team to support them to deliver on the company strategy and to build the profile of, and promote, the legal team, both internally and externally’.
Since April 2012, Amanda Devonish has served as senior corporate lawyer and assistant company secretary of Santos, having previously worked in-house and in private practice in Abu Dhabi with Abu Dhabi Airports Company, and in Dubai for Nakheel and DLA Piper. A nominator has identified that Devonish ‘should be considered as a rising star as she demonstrates an unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional advice and service with accuracy and speed, often against extremely demanding deadlines’. Having taken on the additional responsibilities of company secretary when returning from parental leave in 2017, Devonish has streamlined governance processes and overhauled systems to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and better manage governance and compliance risks. The nominator adds that Devonish has ‘an enthusiastic and energetic approach to her engagement with all internal and external stakeholders and a calm and considered approach. [This] engenders confidence that her advice and work product will meet agreed deadlines and will have been thoroughly prepared and considered’.
In her current role as legal counsel in the retail Insurance team, Nicole Diepenhorst provides support to the retail and health insurance distribution channels of AIA Australia, which includes the distribution of products through independent financial advisers and other partners. Diepenhorst began her career at AIA Australia as a practical legal training student in August 2014. On completion of her PLT placement, she commenced permanent employment at AIA Australia and was admitted into practice in March 2015. She is praised by nominators for her continuous contribution to the company: ‘Since her admission into practice in 2015, Diepenhorst has embraced AIA’s purpose of “Making a Difference” by proactively identifying and advising on legal and regulatory risks and contributing to major initiatives and projects. Amongst other things, she is the lead lawyer for the partnership distribution channel and the marketing, vitality and digital channel for one of the largest life insurers in Australia’. In 2018, she supported AIA throughout the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, including by providing guidance to the business, assisting in the preparation of witness statements, executive and director updates and potential media statements and the implementation of key learning initiatives. Furthermore, Diepenhorst has supported the intended A$3.8bn acquisition of Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) life and health insurance business in New Zealand, which completed in July 2018, and its life business in Australia (which, subject to regulatory approval is intended to complete in the first half of 2019). This also involves entry into a 20-year strategic bancassurance partnership in Australia and New Zealand. She provides guidance on products, processes and future distribution arrangements. One of the proudest moments of her career so far has been becoming the lead lawyer for two channels of AIA Australia: the partnership distribution channel and the marketing, vitality and digital channel. This role involves her sharing her experience and expertise in preparation for launching the AIA vitality programme in New Zealand which has included negotiating key strategic relationships within the New Zealand market and providing guidance on key aspects of the programme, including the program structure and design and its integration with life and health insurance products, in addition to advising on operational and sales processes from a legal perspective. She additionally provides strategic advice on AIA Australia’s first partnership arrangement to distribute private health insurance products with AIA Vitality alongside AIA Australia’s existing life insurance products under the brand of AIA Australia’s distribution partner, RACQ. This also involved navigating the regulatory differences between life insurance and health insurance. Diepenhorst remains adaptable to these regulatory changes and believes this is key to succeed in successfully advising the business: ‘Lawyers are inherently trained to be curious in relation to the matters in which they act. In my view, it will be important for general counsels of the future to embrace their curiosity and have an “explorer” mindset to influence and understand changing business requirements and legal landscapes. As industries and markets continue to evolve and similarly laws and regulations change, general counsels will need the flexibility to respond to these changes and have an informed understanding of key drivers to influence changes as appropriate’, says Diepenhorst. She also supports the growth of myOwn health insurance, a private health insurance brand created by AIA Australia in partnership with GMHBA and global insurer Discovery in 2017. ‘To assist in building this new business, I have provided advice to streamline processes for on boarding financial advisers as referral partners for myOwn health insurance’, says Diepenhorst.
Katie Dillon is a legal counsel at Telstra. Recognised in the industry press as a notable young in-house lawyer, she is a rising star among corporate in-house counsel in Australia. Before joining Telstra, Dillon worked in private practice with King & Wood Mallesons (Perth and Melbourne) for almost four years, primarily as an M&A lawyer across public and private M&A, takeovers, restructuring, regulatory, corporate governance and compliance work, and other transactional work. She has been with Telstra for almost three years, and is currently part of the Telstra Products, Marketing and IP team supporting Telstra’s retail, SMB and enterprise businesses, encompassing product development, product launches, marketing and media and content management work. She has also supported Telstra’s Enterprise legal team in both Melbourne and New York, where she completed a six month secondment. In addition to her legal work, Katie Dillon has made significant contributions through her involvement in the Telstra Legal Innovation Forum, and the key role she played in developing and implementing an e-tool designed to triage legal work, featuring self-help tools, for the US legal team. Her referees say: ‘The telecommunication, technology and legal industries are in rapid change. Telstra values lawyers who are able to operate in a complex, dynamic environment, who provide excellent technical and commercial advice and who exemplify Telstra’s values. Katie Dillon does this, and more. She has done an exceptional job helping Telstra provide brilliant connected experiences to its customers, and has made significant contributions to helping the legal and corporate affairs group meet Telstra’s strategic “T22” ambitions. She is an agile, fast learner who takes on new challenges with enthusiasm and executes with excellence, and consistently shows a strong ability to understand and focus on what matters for our customers. Her legal advice is excellent and is always commercial, identifying risks and mitigation strategies as well as flow-on commercial and operational impacts that have often not been identified by others, which enables rapid decision-making for her clients. During her recent secondment in New York, she also demonstrated her ability to learn quickly in an entirely new complex legal and regulatory framework, adapt to new environments and cultures, and fit seamlessly into, and take a leading role with, new teams. She is a vibrant and collaborative member of the Telstra legal community, and demonstrates she cares about her colleagues, clients and customers.’
Employed at Westpac since 2016, Jessica Do – an in-house lawyer specialising in dispute resolution within the company’s in-house legal team – has greatly impressed in her three years at the bank. Westpac is Australia’s oldest bank and one of the largest within the Australia and New Zealand region and is a well-established figure in the industry. Its reputation is continuing to grow through its movement into other professional services, an initiative that Do and the wider legal department continue to enhance. Do is an astute and talented contracts specialist with an aptitude for disciplined negotiations, leading her to command an impressive track record in her role of handling disputes. Do’s past career has seen her undertake roles in private practice with Slaughter and May, Clifford Chance, Henry Davis York and a secondment to the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Trained at the University of Technology Sydney, Do has a strong background in financial and contract law as well as workplace relations, safety and construction affairs. Her industry acumen gained through her banking experience and business degree is another asset that stands her in good stead to deal with current and future legal issues affecting the banking and financial services sectors.
Theo Dorizac started his legal career in private practice in a small boutique litigation and commercial firm in Wellington, New Zealand where he states he was ‘fortunate to work with one of New Zealand’s top defamation lawyers, which triggered my interest in media’. After nearly five years at that firm, he decided, ‘it was time to spread my wings’, and expand his interest in working in-house for a media organisation. In 2005, he moved to London where he made it his mission to secure an in-house media role. Dorizac secured a role in the legal and compliance team at Channel 4 Television, a role that involved his participation in groundbreaking and ethically challenging content. Dorizac spent over eight years in the legal and compliance team working on series such as Big Brother, 24 Hours in A&E, Wife Swap, The (Un)Dateables, and undercover investigations into the police and Ryanair, and filming in hostile environments such as Afghanistan. ‘During this time I absorbed so much about the media and creative industry, as well as building my expertise in collaborating with independent producers, broadcasters and other legal colleagues. I also increased my experience with defending broadcasters and producers on legal and regulatory matters’, says Dorizac. In his current role, he leads the legal team in the pre-publication work they do with the content creators, including the commissioning team, marketing, digital and radio platforms. He has worked on some key content including Stuggle Street, Go Back to Where you Came From, Eurovision, Deep Water. His roles have also broadened to include working on more strategic and commercial projects, such as the recent Eurovision – Australia Decides live television event and also working with the executive team. ‘In all my in-house roles, I have been fortunate to have had great support from general counsel and other senior executives for my professional development. Recognising potential has been a key starting point, and then following that through with opportunities to build on existing skills and experience, as well as working closely to identify any skills gaps will assist to develop rising stars into in-house industry leaders’, says Dorizac.
Jake Elsworthy is a managing counsel at leading global resources company BHP. In this role, Elsworthy provides legal support for strategic commercial activities and transformational projects across BHP’s Australian businesses, including iron ore, copper and coal assets. His key areas of practice include material procurement and commercial contracting, regulatory and emerging risks, M&A, competition, WHS, joint venture issues, and logistics. He joined BHP in 2015 after spending four years in private practice at Herbert Smith Freehills, where he obtained deep experience in a broad range of corporate, mining, and infrastructure matters. Recently Elsworthy has successfully completed a two-month secondment to BHP’s legal team in Chile. ‘Being able to provide legal support in a foreign country without speaking the native language was a great personal challenge. The secondment was an excellent development opportunity for me and illustrates one of the benefits of working as part of a global team’, he says. As managing counsel, Elsworthy has been working on some interesting projects for BHP. Following BHP’s successful roll-out of its first fully autonomous haul truck fleet at Jimblebar Mine in late 2017, it is now assessing the opportunity to expand the implementation of autonomous haulage across its Australian open-cut iron ore and coal operations. ‘I am the legal lead on the study team. Working on a multijurisdictional automation study is exciting because of the novel issues and challenges it presents, particularly against an evolving legal and regulatory landscape’, he comments. In addition, Elsworthy has a lead role in the development and roll out of BHP legal’s “operating system”, a key transformation initiative for the legal function. According to Elsworthy, ‘once established, the system will include BHP legal’s core standards, processes, and resources, along with a global continuous improvement framework that enables all legal team members to continually pursue new and innovative methods for delivering work. The operating system roll-out will see the full legal team trained in a variety of project management principles and techniques, including lean, design thinking, agile, project management, and legal project management. It is exciting to have a lead role in a project that stimulates challenges to conventional ways of working and that will deliver new and broader skills across the legal team’. Elsworthy feels that technology will cause constant change for in-house counsels. ‘The ongoing emergence of new technology in society, for example, automation, will continue to change the backdrop against which legal advice is provided, giving rise to new and thought-provoking legal and ethical issues. It will also cause changes to the way legal-teams operate, the types of work being carried out by in-house counsel and, consequently, the core skills required of in-house counsel’, he says. Additionally, ‘changing community expectations regarding the role of companies and businesses in society will also have a significant influence on the role of lawyers’, he continues, ‘as the question for in-house teams shifts from “can we do this” to “should we do it” (and “how do we do it”), so too does the required analysis and skill-set’. In Elsworthy’s view, it will continue to be essential for general counsels to have a deep understanding of the broader context in which their businesses operate. Being able to look beyond the ‘black-letter’ law will be core to delivering fit-for-purpose, strategic advice and assisting businesses achieve long-term value. ‘Moving away from old solutions and learning from other teams (internal and external) and industries will be key to meeting the ongoing drive for in-house teams to do more with less. It will also be a fundamental contributor to creating an exciting work environment’, he states.
With over 15 years’ professional experience specialising in commercial, consumer, competition, IT, IP, privacy, and franchising law, Jaime Frasca is a senior legal counsel at Dell Technologies, covering Australia and New Zealand. Dell Technologies is a unique family of businesses that provides the essential infrastructure for organisations to build their digital future, transform IT, and protect their most important asset-information. The company services customers of all sizes across 180 countries – ranging from 98% of the Fortune 500 list of companies to individual consumers – with the industry’s most comprehensive and innovative portfolio from the edge to the core to the cloud. Frasca started working at Dell Technologies in 2017; prior to that, she worked as legal counsel for KFC South Pacific (Yum! Brands subsidiary) for more than five years, where she acted as the primary legal contact for the negotiation and preparation of multi-million dollar contracts (including supply chain, IT services, and sponsorship arrangements), privacy and data breach compliance issues, serious customer complaints and brand risk management and franchisee non-compliance issues. Previously, she acquired extensive experience working in telecommunications and media industries in Sydney and the UK, acting as legal counsel for XYZnetworks (now owned by Foxtel), Kordia Solutions, Penguin Group UK, and Hutchinson 3G UK. Prior to her in-house career, Frasca’s private practice experience consists of working as a commercial, intellectual property, and technology solicitor at Maddocks and commercial litigation solicitor at Corrs Chambers Westgarth. Frasca views her time in London as her proudest achievement of her in-house career so far, saying: ‘I was overjoyed to have landed my first permanent in-house legal role at Penguin Group UK working in Covent Garden with an amazing team of people on some really interesting matters’. She believes a strong leadership team that believes in placing its people, diversity and workplace culture at the forefront of the business will have the greatest impact on her career, and ‘support from senior colleagues who invest time in creating and providing professional development opportunities is essential to helping generate legal industry leaders. It is also important for colleagues and peers to have a forum or mechanism within the company to be able to recognise others for achievements and successes when they arise’, she comments. Talking about the skills that general counsels of the future will need in order to successfully advise businesses, Frasca states: ‘General counsels of the future will need to stay nimble and adopt appropriate technological tools to maximise in-house work efficiencies. I think it is also important for them to maintain a commercially balanced legal view when providing practical advice to business stakeholders, and to foster strong support networks and collaboration within in-house legal teams’.
Ben Gilbert, a University of Waikato-trained and Sydney-based in-house lawyer, is a commercial attorney supporting global information technology giant Microsoft’s Australia subsidiary. In particular he supports the teams engaged in licensing cloud products to mid-market and public sector customers, the consulting services business, and the marketing and operations business. He is currently the retail industry lead for Microsoft Australia’s legal team and also responds to day-to-day legal queries and drives projects that map cloud compliance in particular industry verticals to Microsoft’s license offerings. Previously, he worked in New Zealand in private practice at Chapman Trip in the corporate team, advising on M&A, private equity, contract matters, competition law, telecommunications, IP, and company incorporations. While there, he undertook secondments in the IT, packaging and media industries. He acted on matters including the closure of a prominent international intermediary’s New Zealand private equity funds; the establishment of a New Zealand private equity firm’s trans-Tasman fund; fundraising documentation (US$60m) for a New Zealand-based international clean energy company; the joint venture documentation for a major New Zealand logistics arrangement; and the cloud services licensing arrangements for Asia Pacific financial institutions. Gilbert has been recognised as a rising star due to his active engagement in broadening the boundaries of typical in-house legal counsel work, in clear concurrence with the future of the profession. His work centres around helping government agencies make the transition to the cloud and implement other technologies. He has worked on the development of an AI-enabled legal assistant to handle more mundane tasks, freeing up lawyers to work on higher priority or challenging work. Gilbert was acknowledged as an Australasian young in-house lawyer of the year in 2018 in the industry press and is deserving of recognition as a rising star.
Goodman is a global industrial property group which owns, develops, and manages industrial real estate in 17 countries including logistics facilities, warehouses and business parks. It is the largest industrial property group listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and one of the largest listed specialist fund managers of industrial property and business space globally, with around A$43bn in assets under management. Serving as senior corporate counsel and company secretary for Goodman, Lisa Godfrey has over 15 years of experience in both corporate and real estate law, and compliance. Having joined Goodman in 2015, Godfrey has particular legal expertise in investment management, corporate structuring, M&A transactions, joint ventures, real estate, corporate governance, banking and finance, and regulatory compliance. Prior to her current position, Godfrey worked as group company secretary and legal counsel at Aveo Group, a publicly listed healthcare company, for over five years. Godfrey’s experience as an in-house legal counsel and company secretary has provided her with a pragmatic and commercial approach to problem solving and experience working with company boards and executive management. Before moving in-house, she obtained legal experience in private practice, working at Minter Ellison and Lynch Meyer Lawyers. Apart from her legal achievements in the in-house sector, Godfrey also has an MBA from the University of South Australia.
Dentsu Aegis Network is a multinational media and digital marketing communications company headquartered in London, operating in 145 countries worldwide, with more than 50,000 dedicated specialists. The Australian subsidiary of the company has a strong presence in the market, with 25 integrated marketing and communications agencies and over 1,900 staff. 30% of digital advertising spend in Australia is placed by Dentsu Aegis Network and it is Google’s biggest client in the country. Commencing her role as legal counsel at the Australian branch of Dentsu Aegis Network in June 2018, Bianca Gomez is an in-house lawyer who has already been recognised by the in-house industry, being the finalist of one Australia in-house lawyer award in the legal press. Prior to her current position, Gomez worked in private practice for two law firms and worked to support Vodafone Australia, assisting the strategy and finance legal team on a wide range of strategic projects.
Prior to joining Westpac, Kylie Gray was part of the team at King & Wood Mallesons, specialising in technology and telecommunications law. In the last eight years she has held various leadership roles within the broader legal team in the Westpac Group, including as head of technology and operations, head of the dispute resolution group, head of regulatory investigations and most recently, acting as the general counsel for institutional and regulatory, overseeing a global team of around 115 lawyers and paralegals. At the start of her career, Gray set out to create a dynamic leadership team: ‘I pride myself on developing lawyers to their maximum potential to create a highly engaged culture that is focussed on customers, shareholders and providing high quality legal advice that makes a difference’, says Gray. This meant the implementation of large scale change through four team restructures, which involved the promotion of 11 new leaders and the transition of two leaders into larger scale roles. ‘Something I am very proud of, is that all of these new leaders were internal candidates, and six are women’, adds Gray. ‘More than half of the leaders are completely new to leadership. Having moved across four leadership roles within the Westpac legal team myself including roles which were outside of my general area of expertise, I am a firm believer that changing roles is critical to developing talent and general counsel calibre lawyers’. Gray’s role as of April 2019 will be deputy general counsel – regulatory investigations and dispute resolution. Her role has overall accountability for the litigation team, the regulatory investigations team and the Royal Commission response. She additionally reports and presents to the board on material litigation and regulatory investigations for the group and sits on a number of steering committees across the group and the legal and secretariat leadership team, led by the group executive for the division. Gray’s co-workers describe her as, ‘authentic, genuine, engaged, effective and fair’. In recent testimonials, her mentees and co-workers find her ‘incredibly generous with her time and guidance, sharing valuable insights from her own leadership successes and learnings. [Gray] actively identifies and facilitates opportunities for personal development and relevant leadership experience, and offers honest and helpful feedback, beyond appraisal time’.
WesTrac, a wholly owned subsidiary of Seven Group Holdings, is one of the largest Caterpillar dealers and heavy mobile equipment solution companies in the world. As the senior legal counsel, Paul Gregory is responsible for all WesTrac legal matters in Western Australia and reports directly to the general counsel and company secretary. Proving his versatility, Gregory is currently secretary to the WesTrac customer engagement and audit and risk committees, as well as a director and company secretary of WesTrac subsidiary, SITECH, which provides technology solutions to the mining, construction, and infrastructure industries. His involvement has also extended to the Fortescue Metals Group’s Solomon iron ore site expansion, and he has also helped support Rio Tinto’s retrofitting of existing Caterpillar 793F trucks at the Marandoo iron ore site. Befitting of a conscientious and forward-thinking in-house counsel, Gregory has also taken a keen interest in sound corporate governance, particularly in the not-for-profit sector. This includes recently sitting on two not-for-profit boards: Edmund Rice Camps for Kids, a registered charity that serves the needs of children who are at risk; and Triathlon Western Australia, the state sporting organisation responsible for the development, promotion, and governance of the sport of triathlon throughout Western Australia.
Sylvia Hands, senior legal counsel at Medibank, is an experienced and motivated corporate counsel. She manages a team of three lawyers, providing support to the marketing, sales, product, digital, and people and culture teams. Hands has a strong client focus and aims to build and maintain strong and lasting relationships with stakeholders at all levels, including using cross-functional relationships to achieve business goals and a great customer outcome. She is passionate about connecting people, mentoring, coaching and supporting wellbeing and continuous professional development within the team. Additionally she manages the legal panel relationships and enjoys investing time in building strong relationships with law firms as well as seeking to create added value for the team. In the words of a nominator, ‘I have worked extensively with Hands on a range of complex matters, particularly in the areas of brand protection and IP disputes. She is not only an excellent operator, but is also a pleasure to work with. She would also be a wonderful mentor for younger members of her in-house team and would no doubt make an excellent general counsel’.
Kate Hasbani, director, real estate and special counsel at WeWork, began working for the company in London in July 2018, and moved home to Sydney with the company in November to manage real estate legal affairs across Australia and New Zealand. Prior to this, she was a lawyer at Speirs Ryan, a boutique property law firm based in Sydney. While the majority of her legal career has been focused within the property sector, she has worked in a number of other areas, including public liability and insurance litigation, energy and resources, building and construction, and commercial contracts. About her role and achievements, Hasbani highlights that, ‘while no two days at WeWork are the same, it is always exciting to broaden our community through bringing new buildings into our portfolio. In the short time I have been with the company, I have helped grow WeWork’s presence in existing and new markets through the signing of three new buildings at 50 Miller Street Sydney, 120 Spencer Street Melbourne and 152 St Georges Terrace Perth – and there are plenty more on the way!’. Her legal skills and market intelligence give her the tools needed to confront challenging situations. For example, last late year, the confluence of its physical design and legislative changes put a building opening date at risk. Using her nous and experience she explains that, ‘with our in-house engineer and development project manager, I was able to work out a solution to fire compliance issues in a timely fashion, which meant we could still open as scheduled. Beyond this, it is so rewarding when colleagues from all business lines defer to me to seek guidance – as an in-house lawyer, being seen as a help rather than a hindrance is one of the biggest compliments you can receive’. Hasbani identifies that her career will be impacted by the property industry continuing to challenge traditional notions associated with the way real estate is used. There has been a recent shift in this attitude in that traditionally, lawyers were seen to be gate keepers, however Hasbani is now seeing in-house lawyers being brought to the table earlier in the piece, and relied on to help frame the strategic direction of wider decisions. When asked what kind of support and peer mentoring would help up and coming in-house legal rising stars in their development, Hasbani identifies the following: ‘Rising stars should never underestimate the power and value of a mentor and champion. These are people both within and external to your organisation that you can test your ideas against, ask career-oriented questions of, and who can help you upskill in those areas where formal training may fall short. Access to mentors and champions is not easy to come by, which is why I worked with the NSW chapter of the Future Directions Committee of the Property Council of Australia in 2018 to develop and implement a mentoring program that was targeted at addressing this need.’
Sara Hughes serves as a senior legal counsel and in-house lawyer at AccorHotels, one of the world’s leading hotel management companies. She is a commercial lawyer who advises on a wide range of commercial transactions and legal matters with particular expertise in real estate, funds management, and financial services law. With previous experience in private practice with Allens as a paralegal and solicitor for a combined five years in the IP, construction and real estate teams, she brings commercial and legal acumen to the role. She has also previously worked as senior legal officer at the Department of Transport and Main Roads for two years. Recognised for her talent and potential to progress, she is also recognised for her determination and skill. She has been identified by the Association of Corporate Counsel Australia as a young lawyer of note, further boosting her credentials as a rising star.
Having started her legal career in 2013 at Herbert Smith Freehills, Amy Jennings recently assumed the role of senior legal counsel at Tennis Australia, having first moved to Melbourne to take on the role of legal counsel with Tennis Australia in July 2016. Recognised as a key member of the team, one nominator says: ‘Jennings is a respected and trusted member of our legal team. Her diligence and quest to learn will position her well as she advances on her path to be a future leader in our industry’. Much of her work at Tennis Australia is focused on supporting the business to create memorable tennis events, everything from junior wheelchair tennis events to the Australian open. ‘During the summer of 2018-19 I had the privilege of providing legal support for the Hopman Cup – an annual, international eight-team tennis tournament held in Perth for over 30 years’, says Jennings. On New Year’s Eve, the tournament drew a record crowd of 14,064 attendees to watch Serena Williams and Roger Federer face each other on court for the very first time in their extraordinary careers. ‘It is such a unique challenge as a lawyer to contractually draw together administrators, event organisers, sponsors, and players from across the world to make these moments of tennis history possible’, adds Jennings. The proudest achievements of her in-house career have been those occasions where she can watch her legal work directly contribute to the on-field achievements of athletes. In particular, she has worked with a number of athletes in football and tennis who have been born abroad and moved to Australia as refugees – often as very young children, sometimes having lost several family members in conflict – who have a shared dream of playing for their new home at the highest level. ‘Achieving this dream requires guiding the athlete and their family through a considerable amount of legal and regulatory work, liaising with government authorities and sports governing bodies, and can take many years to finalise. To see one of these athletes finally take the field for Australia is humbling and unforgettable – and to watch their careers continue to flourish is for me a source of immense pride. Because I have done my best work, they can do theirs’, explains Jennings. In addition to her current role with Tennis Australia, Jennings also volunteers as a tribunal member for Football Federation Victoria, the governing body of soccer in Victoria, and sits on the Board of Ausdance Victoria, the peak body for dance in Victoria. Prior to this she worked in Sydney with Football with Football Federation Australia as legal and regulatory officer.
Simon Kalinowski, senior legal counsel for Springfield City Group, has already demonstrated the potential required for a high-level general counsel role during his time with the public planning and development firm. He is an experienced lawyer with a demonstrated history of working in the real estate industry following on from his time in private practice. He is skilled in providing all manner of general legal advice, with a particular emphasis on real estate and property, transactions, corporate, and finance. A graduate of the University of Queensland, Kalinowski is a strong candidate for imminent career progression through to more senior roles. In 2018, Kalinowksi was listed as a finalist in an industry award selecting the most impressive corporate counsel under 30 years of age, cementing his reputation as one of the best young lawyers across Australia.
Theo Kapodistrias, an in-house lawyer supporting the University of Tasmania, has a demonstrated passion for educational and public law which first started during his studies. He was the 2013 president of the student legal service, and introduced the University’s migration advisory service after receiving A$55,000 of funding. This service was introduced to provide necessary advice to students facing visa issues, and potentially facing deportation. Kapodistrias has been in his current role as a lawyer for the University of Tasmania, his alma mater, since November 2014. He is the sole lawyer involved with the University’s largest Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) bid. The ‘Blue Economy’ CRC is also the biggest proposed bid the University has ever seen, with proposed funding for the CRC being over A$322m. The CRC aims to bring expertise in aquaculture, marine renewable energy, and marine engineering into one place. His involvement has been advising on the proposed structure for the separate entity to be created, governance issues, leasing of land for the new entity, and working with the other collaborators. In the last five years Kapodistrias has had significant involvement in research funding and research agreements. One major collaboration involved establishing a relationship with several key research partners for the development of a clinical trial referred to as the IDEAL Study. He played a major role in negotiating with entities regarding funding for the project, drafting and negotiating collaboration agreements for the research stage, drafting and negotiating clinical trial agreements with the trial sites, and assisting with the development of the commercialisation strategy. In addition to his role at the university he is also a volunteer director and Tasmanian divisional president of the Association of Corporate Counsel in Australia. In this role, he writes advocacy submissions on issues members are concerned about, organises and facilitates continuing professional development, education, and networking events, and grows a strong in-house network within Tasmania. Asked about the development of new in-house lawyers and advice for their training and development, Kapodistrias highlights that, ‘being at the table is a key way for rising stars to understand how the business operates, how decisions are made, and to be able to provide legal strategy to business issues. Being thrown into the deep end and having key input into an issue is an excellent way to learn and gives future stars the confidence to trust themselves and their abilities’.
Serving as senior legal counsel – manufacturing and logistics at Cochlear, a listed medical device company, Deeksha Kumar is a corporate lawyer with rich cross-jurisdictional experience. Her career began at Deloitte, where she worked on M&A transactions, culminating as a lead lawyer for the transaction period. After five years at Deloitte, she joined the Weir Group as legal advisor for the Asia Pacific region. This role enabled her to gain more generalist commercial legal experience, work collaboratively with sales and procurement teams and provide broad legal advice on various topics such as privacy, competition law, IP and product regulations. Given her strong background in science, Kumar was keen to learn more about Cochlear and the hearing device industry, and thus commenced a role as legal counsel in the procurement area in 2016. She partnered with the procurement team to secure key long term contracts with single source suppliers and achieve supply continuity and pricing benefits. Kumar was then promoted to her current role where she looks after all legal advice required by the supply chain and operations division at Cochlear. Recently, Kumar was part of a team that worked on the smart hearing alliance commercial collaboration between Cochlear and GN Hearing, the hearing aid division of the GN Group, which includes joint research and development and shared technology arrangements. ‘The collaboration is an exciting opportunity to shape the future of hearing and the commercial negotiations were a challenging and rewarding experience’, she says. Kumar has also worked on a number of legal supply chain process improvements, including streamlining touch points between procurement and legal, and putting in place a large number of templates and policies. ‘Of particular note is the terms project, where I worked to combine 10 different sets of supply terms into one publicly available set of terms (published on the Cochlear website) that can be used globally. These terms have been translated into 10 languages and protect the interests of all global Cochlear offices from a supply perspective’, Kumar states. To a large extent, Kumar thinks the proudest achievement of her in-house career is working collaboratively with the business to deliver the company’s mission and business priorities. ‘Upon joining Cochlear, I established a profile as legal advisor to the supply chain and operations division and worked closely with the leadership team of the division to implement timely and commercial legal advice. A team survey showed high level of satisfaction from the business in relation to advice received’, she says. ‘In terms of legal advice, one of my biggest achievements at Cochlear has been an agreement rollout project, which involves strategy, management, development and monitoring’. She continues: ‘The project contributes to Cochlear’s success by putting supply continuity measures in place, including but not limited to parameters around performance, ease of replacement, business growth, financial or other concerns in the supply environment’. Kumar believes that collaboration and trust are the key to help convert rising stars into industry leaders. ‘Legal counsel will only be able to progress and form a profile as industry leaders if business leaders realise the importance of the advice provided and value added by lawyers. Business interests and risk profile must be balanced for the progress of the business, and this can be achieved by developing a relationship of trust between senior leaders and legal counsel. Senior leaders that empower rising stars will help develop industry leaders’, she comments.
AIA’s Australia legal department is brimming with legal talent at all levels, and senior legal counsel Saul Lazar has drawn praise from nominators and colleagues alike for his talent, persistence and tangible business successes. Receiving several recommendations as a rising star in the Australian in-house legal industry, a colleague of Lazar who works with him directly explains how he provides ‘dedicated legal support’ on a broad range of matters and strategic projects ‘of relevance to AIA Australia’s retail business in a time of unprecedented regulatory change for our industry’. In dealing with these regulatory changes, the source explains how he has been ‘instrumental in helping the retail business anticipate the changes, respond, and continue to thrive and produce positive outcomes for our customers and partners’. In his time at AIA Australia, Lazar has formed close working relationships with a number of the key stakeholders within AIA Australia’s retail life insurance business. In the words of a nominator he has: ‘in the process developed an impressive understanding of the inner workings of the many facets of our business and a reputation as someone who can be relied upon to provide accurate, timely, relevant and highly commercial advice in respect of a broad range of issues, whether they arise in the ordinary course of our business or are in relation to key strategic projects and priorities’.
Nissan is a global full-line vehicle manufacturer that sells more than 60 different models under the Nissan, INFINITI and Datsun brands. It is the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, with global sales of more than 320,000 all-electric vehicles as of April 2018. As senior legal counsel, Andrew Lee joined Nissan in 2014 and has been advising across all functional areas of the Nissan businesses in Australia and New Zealand, covering a range of matters including competition law, advertising, consumer protection and product liability, franchising, IP protection, financial services and general commercial law. Lee was recognised as the winner of an Australian in-house lawyer award in 2018, being described as ‘brimming with energy, passion and self-direction’. Prior to his role at Nissan, Lee worked at Toyota Motor Corporation for more than two years as corporate solicitor. Before starting his in-house career, Lee obtained nearly six years of private practice experience, specialising in banking and finance at Corrs Chambers Westgarth.
Alethea Lee is a senior corporate transactional and commercial legal adviser, with extensive governance and company secretarial experience having developed an extraordinary amount of experience during her career to date. She serves as senior legal counsel and assistant company secretary at Nine Entertainment following its merger with Fairfax Media. Her skills and experience in strategic M&A and restructures led to her playing the key legal and company secretarial role in managing the merger and, prior to that, the demerger and subsequent public listing of Fairfax’s highly successful business, Domain.com.au. Lee is well-versed in guiding businesses through disrupted industries and has been actively involved in the execution of digital transformation strategies. She has advised on and managed joint venture partnerships across various industries, most recently playing an active role with the management of Fairfax’s Digital Ventures portfolio. She demonstrates her rising star qualities by having had in-depth experience working with iconic brands belonging to ASX100-listed entities, and is acutely aware of the complexities surrounding brand reputation. She has developed skills to become adept at working closely with boards, and investor-and public-relations advisors. Furthermore, she has specialist skills in corporate governance, competition law, advertising and consumer law, data protection regulation, and contract law. Lee is known as a skilled negotiator and proficient influencer who is highly commercial and collaborative. She is respected as a strategic legal advisor to senior management, executives and board members, and is poised to become one of Australia’s top general counsels in the future.
After six years as a solicitor at MinterEllison, Cameron Laughlin joined Uber in Sydney in January 2018 as an employment counsel covering Australia and New Zealand. In this short time as an in-house counsel, Loughlin has already made an impression with his skill and potential. He has demonstrated a superb ability to cover Australian and New Zealand employment law as well as other related matters, leading to nominating sources heaping praise on his abilities. Uber has been consulting with the Australian and state governments to improve its flexible working options within employment law and regulation in the country, based on the driver and delivery partner’s request for increased flexibility with job security. Loughlin and the rest of the employment legal function at Uber has been involved in this process and will be central to its future success.
Martha Maiorana, senior legal counsel at Axicom Pty Ltd, started her career as a property paralegal and spent 15 years at firms such as Makinson d’Apice, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Corrs Chambers Westgarth. This experience within the property sector gave Maiorana skills that are valuable to an in-house legal counsel. She started her in-house legal career with Harvey Norman Holdings before moving to Axicom to take her current role. Maiorana is proud of being the lead legal counsel of a publicly-listed property team that achieved strategic corporate growth while maintaining confidentiality in all matters. She is a keen learner of and embraces new types of technology which can assist with streamlining internal processes to free up time for the legal work that requires more technical expertise. When asked about the importance of support from peers and mentoring to advance in-house lawyers’ careers to the general counsel level, Maiorana explains: ‘More senior lawyers can assist rising stars to be future leaders by showing them how to be courageous and resilient when faced with many challenges’. She continues: ‘Senior lawyers or general counsel are challenged on a day-to-day basis, mostly shoulder the responsibility for the legal team, and are the gatekeepers of the business. Senior lawyers or general counsel will need to lead by example and demonstrate resilience, courage and acting calmly when faced with certain challenges. This will in turn inspire them to take on any challenges and activate these skills which are prerequisites of being a good leader’. In addition, Maiorana adds that, ‘in order to become a leader, senior lawyers or general counsel need to have open communications and transparency with their legal counsels and keep them informed of business activities as this will in any event impact the legal team. Encouraging rising starts to always keep asking questions teaches them to have those open communications that they will need to be able to bridge gaps between different business units’.
Healius is one of Australia’s leading listed healthcare companies with a commitment to supporting quality, affordable and accessible healthcare. Its senior legal counsel for employment law Louisa Manfre started her career with Herbert Smith Freehills, where she spent more than four years and was responsible for providing strategic and commercial legal advice to many of the largest private and publicly-listed organisations in Australia. In May 2017, she joined Primary Health Care (now known as Healius) as corporate counsel – labour and employment and was soon promoted to senior legal counsel – employment law in October 2018. Manfre is a highly-praised in-house counsel, and as one colleague says: ‘Despite being junior in terms of years of service, Manfre’s abilities were so great that she clearly exceeded the abilities of other lawyers who had many times more experience than her. She has sought to refine her technical legal abilities through understanding the commercial interest of the business, to a point where she is heavily relied upon by the board and the executives on all matters relating to employment and industrial law. In meetings involving the most important stakeholders in our business, she regularly commands the room and is looked upon for not only legal guidance, but also commercial guidance. She truly is a rising star’. Recently Manfre has worked on the A$18m underpayment matter which was announced to the ASX by Primary Health Care (as it was then known) in October 2018. ‘The matter was not only interesting from a personal development perspective, in that I was required to leverage my employment law experience through numerous non-legal domains including HR, operations and payroll, but was also interesting from the public and political perspective due to the recent exponential increase of Australian companies publicly reporting underpayment matters. In this matter, I relished the opportunity to utilise my legal abilities to deliver an outcome that was in the public’s best interest’, she states. Manfre considers the proudest achievement of her in-house career to be working on the remediation project to ensure that many employees received their legal employment entitlements. ‘It has been rewarding to hear stories from employees who received a payment, and who would have otherwise been unaware of their entitlement, and the positive impact this has made on their lives. It has allowed me to maintain my connection to the public, which is ultimately who I serve in my profession’, she says. In the future, Manfre thinks that artificial intelligence and automation is going to greatly change the landscape of practice for all lawyers, regardless of their speciality areas or whether they are in-house counsel or work in private practice. In her view, ‘the greatest impact of AI and automation on the role of a lawyer is that we will be strategic advisors, advising on complex issues and specialty knowledge, rather than undertaking transactional work. This will in turn lead to a closer relationship between the company and its lawyers’. According to Manfre, the most important skill for general counsels of the future will be their commercial and strategic acumen. ‘Businesses will always expect their legal advisors to have a high level of technical skill at a minimum, but what really distinguishes the best legal advisors are those who truly understand business objectives and are able to effectively communicate useful advice which accounts for the commercial perspective. I am a firm believer that the best legal advice is not given in a vacuum, but rather gives due weight to the contextual circumstances surrounding the request for advice’, she comments.
Ria Manguray has been a legal counsel at Tourism Australia since October 2017, supporting the Australian Government agency responsible for attracting international visitors to Australia, both for leisure and business events. The organisation is active in around 16 key markets with offices around the world. Manguray launched her legal career working as an in-house lawyer of Procter & Gamble, where she was part of a small team overseeing 13 brands across the Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific business units. With experience in a broad range of in-house commercial matters, Manguray is a recognised legal counsel in the industry, being a finalist of one Australian legal press in-house award. She has recently worked on the world-class ‘Crocodile Dundee’ campaigns, where she actively led the legal team, advising on complex issues relating to intellectual property, commercial contracts (including celebrity talent contracts), insurance, consumer advertising regulations, risk, privacy and foreign jurisdictions. Apart from the execution of the campaigns, she was also involved in advising the business on various commercial dealings to maximise leveraging the assets with partners and key external stakeholders in government and the tourism and travel sector. As legal counsel of Tourism Australia, the provision of legal services to the organisation directly contributes towards Tourism 2020, which focuses on improving the tourism industry’s performance and competitiveness by pursuing new opportunities for growth and addressing supply-side factors. The Tourism 2020 goal is to achieve more than A$115bn in overnight spend by 2020 (up from A$70bn in 2009). To date, Manguray says, ‘Tourism Australia is on track to meet and potentially even exceed this goal. I take pride in the contributions I’ve made towards this national goal’. She is also proud to be one of the public voices as a culturally and linguistically diverse woman in law. ‘Last year, I had the honour and privilege of participating on a panel at the inaugural Association of Corporate Counsel Women in the House event in Sydney alongside celebrated writer and feminist, Jamila Rizvi, and distinguished women in the legal profession. The discussion topic was on unconscious bias and gender parity in the workplace. I shared with the audience my experience juggling life as a single parent to a young child whilst undertaking my juris doctor studies and working as a paralegal, and thereafter, managing the demands of both home and a career in the legal profession (let alone trying to maintain a social life). As a woman, as a person of colour, as an immigrant, as a working single parent with limited resources, the chances of success were not in my favour. Following the conclusion of the panel discussion, I was approached by audience members who felt my story resonated with them. This experience revealed the positive impact of sharing one’s personal journey to demonstrate how despite the odds it is not impossible to overcome systemic barriers and define your own success,’ she states. In Manguray’s opinion, trends in privacy and data protection will have the greatest impact on her career. She has observed increasing queries on privacy and data protection from stakeholders following legislative reforms such as GDPR. ‘This is no surprise. I also predict fluency in privacy and data protection laws will be a sought-after skillset in the in-house legal profession. After all, we are living in a data-driven world where businesses are increasingly reliant on leveraging data and data analytics to meet strategic goals and grow successfully’, she says.
Bella Manias commenced her career at Golden Casket Lottery Corporation in 2005 as a corporate solicitor specliasing in intellectual property and consumer law matters, and then with Tatts Group in 2007 following Tatts Group’s acquisition of Golden Casket. Manias progressed to senior corporate solicitor and stayed with Tatts Group through its acquisition of New South Wales Lotteries Corporation and the development of Tatts for South Australian Lotteries. She is described by her peers as ‘responsive, commercial and pragmatic’ and ‘skilful at couching her advice in a way that makes sense to the business’. Following Tabcorp Holding’s acquisition of Tatts Group in December, Manias applied for the newly created role of deputy general counsel IP and projects, and in 2018 was successfully promoted to this role. As the sole intellectual property specialist in-house at Tabcorp, she has integrated and managed the substantial Tabcorp and Tatts Group intellectual property portfolios and handled numerous significant intellectual property matters that have flowed from the integration of a number of highly regulated and complex entities. She has also assisted in the master agent acquisitions by Tatts Group including the acquisition of NSW Lotteries in 2010 and the A$850m acquisition of SA lotteries master agents arrangements in 2013 of A$427m, and retention of its Victorian Lottery Licence in 2017. Manias has also attended to due diligence and advises the senior project team, including the CEO, on critical issues and risks. One nominator praises her for her contribution to the legal department: ‘As a team member, and a people leader within our in-house legal team, Manias is engaging, energetic and positive: focused on what we can solve, what we can move on from, and what we can learn from the challenges we face. She is calm under pressure, and accountable for delivering on her promises’.
Hannah McMurtrie, executive manager, legal at IAG started her career as an articled clerk at King & Wood Mallesons. There, after various rotations throughout the firm, she settled in the corporate M&A team, cutting her teeth on a broad range of public and private M&A, equity capital markets, and corporate governance matters for blue chip corporates in both Melbourne and London. Some highlights included playing a key role in AMP’s mergers with AXA APH, Telstra’s sale of Sensis to Platinum Equity, and the Medibank IPO. She left the firm as a senior associate to pursue an in-house role as senior legal advisor at Bupa, where she provided legal support to the finance, treasury, and tax teams and also worked closely with the board and executive team in a company secretarial role. McMurtrie then joined IAG in July 2016, initially as a senior corporate lawyer and has been promoted twice, most recently to her current role in January 2018. She now leads a team of five who provide legal support in the following areas across IAG: data, privacy, innovation, venture fund, information technology, IP, brand, marketing, and outsourcing, procurement and supply chain. Her team supports the customer labs innovation function at IAG, which is tasked with creating future growth opportunities for IAG, including through developing its customer experience strategy, digital innovation, new business incubation, and venturing. Some of the most interesting matters she has worked on recently include establishing the A$75m corporate venture capital fund and a recent venturing investment in startups including Airtasker, Hyper Anna and Upguard. She has also contributed to the establishment of an independent not-for-profit organisation, AI Institute, founded to research the ethics of AI and develop ethical AI-based systems that will provide better outcomes for individuals and society as a whole. McMurtie has made quick progression to her leadership role at IAG, having been promoted twice since commencing at IAG and her team’s remit and members continue to grow. Since starting her current role, she sits on the leadership team and enjoys contributing to the discussions around her team’s talent and strategic direction. When asked what kind of support mentors and general counsel could give to potential rising star in-house lawyers, McMurtie identified providing ‘“air cover” for stretch opportunities’ to allow risks to be taken and to learn from failures. Such stretch opportunities also allow emerging leaders to fill in any gaps in expertise by learning while doing. She adds that, ‘teaching the “business of the business”, in terms of how the business makes money and its key risks and levers, would set up emerging leaders up to contribute beyond a legal capacity in an executive role in the future’.
During his five years at Newcrest Mining, Lachlan McMurtrie has advised on almost all aspects of the company’s business including exploration and M&A growth activities across a wide range of jurisdictions in South and North America, South East Asia, Australia and West Africa. ‘McMurtrie is a tenacious, commercially orientated, highly intelligent and experienced in-house counsel with an ability to undertake and manage legal matters across a broad range of issues, areas and jurisdictions in which the company operates. He has successfully advised and managed the legal work in relation to mining operational issues, M&A transactions, exploration joint ventures, and regulatory issues across the globe and has acted as mentor and supervisor to junior lawyers’, says one nominator. McMurtrie has been promoted twice, from corporate counsel to senior corporate counsel in April 2016 and most recently to group manager legal in March 2019, as co-leader of the legal function reporting to the general counsel and company secretary as part of the broader legal, secretariat and tenure team. McMurtrie has been integral to helping reboot and streamline Newcrest’s approach to new country entry to support global growth activities from 2015 with a particular focus on the Americas. Amongst his proudest achievements he mentions working seamlessly across many different jurisdictions, legal systems and cultures in supporting the global growth initiatives and operations often in emerging markets with challenging regulatory frameworks for foreign investment and mining. ‘In particular, my experiences in London advising a wide range of clients in emerging markets helped me to develop a keen understanding of the importance of anti-bribery and corruption due diligence and controls’, says McMurtrie. On joining Newcrest, along with another lawyer who had a political risk consultancy background, he further improved the company’s focus on these issues in recognition of the evolving regulatory environment, including developing a company guideline for counterparty due diligence and working on improvements with the ABC policy and standards and guidelines of the company. Reflecting further on other achievements he adds that he has enjoyed ‘being a strong influence in driving how our legal team operates today without silos and as one team – now with co-leaders, which is somewhat unusual – to manage a large workload across multiple jurisdictions and time zones during an exciting growth and innovation phase for the company’.
Catherine Morrongiello Conte is the senior corporate counsel and privacy officer at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia. She is an experienced lawyer, with over 10 years PQE, largely in corporate in-house and government regulatory roles. She combines experience of data protection and privacy, IT services, competition and consumer law, product liability, and contracting with generalist commercial in-house experience. Her career has gone from strength to strength since her qualification and move to the in-house sector. An IP specialist, Conte started her in-house career at the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) in 2007 and took on a secondment at The Walt Disney Corporation in 2011. From there she moved to Level 3, a Fortune 500 international communications company specialising in IP transit networks. Then in 2014 she joined Toyota and has rapidly progressed to her current role in five years. Last year she took on the additional responsibility of privacy officer, a demonstration of her talent and experience. Conte possesses all of the attributes of a top general counsel within the IP sector and will certainly make the leap to upper management in the near future.
Having always possessed a passion for sports due to his prior spell as an athlete, Michael Napoli knew he ‘wanted to forge a career as a sports lawyer, as it would be challenging and exciting’. As a student, he completed a summer clerkship at Gadens lawyers in Sydney, was promoted to graduate lawyer, and in 2013, he was admitted as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of NSW and worked in the commercial litigation department at Gadens, dealing with a range of multi-million dollar disputes. ‘During this time, still having a passion for sport, I volunteered at my local football association as chairman of the Disciplinary Tribunal, hearing disputes involving player misconduct. An opportunity arose as an in-house lawyer with Football NSW (FNSW), which is Australia’s largest sporting organisation’. FSNW manages 200,000 football players and 32 member-football associations and during Napoli’s time there he was appointed by the national governing body for Australian football, Football Federation Australia (FFA) to administrate over disciplinary matters on football tournaments. In 2018, he decided to take his career further by becoming an in-house lawyer at Supercars, which manages the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, the premier motorsport category in Australasia. At Supercars he prepares and negotiates commercial transactions, which involve multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements for the series and individual races while also assisting the events department in securing suppliers, including negotiating agreements for musicians, such as Simple Minds and KISS, to perform at races. Supercars also incorporates an e-sport video game competition entitled “The Supercars E-series”. Here, he regularly provides legal advice concerning issues of intellectual property and exclusivity. ‘This is very exciting as the traditional perception of being an “athlete” is being challenged’, says Napoli. When reflecting on what kind of support is best received from his peers, he explains: ‘The best advice I received from more senior lawyers is being a team player. Being a team player is not easy for some lawyers working in a corporate environment. Most of the time, corporate lawyers seem more concerned with meeting individual targets. In an in-house environment, that is not the case. If you wish to embark on a career as an in-house lawyer, you must work with others and realise that you require the skills and expertise of those assisting you to achieve the organisation’s goals’.
Lisa Nguyen, an associate counsel at American Express, has demonstrated excellence in her almost four years at the company and has been recognised as a rising star in the industry press. She is a highly skilled lawyer within the American Express legal team supporting the Australian and New Zealand entities, providing legal advice and support to various business lines including consumer and regulatory matters, corporate governance, and insurance. She also provides substantial corporate governance support across four American Express branches and legal entities operating in Australia and New Zealand. Prior to joining American Express, Nguyen was a lawyer at Blackstone Legal Costing and a tax analyst at Deloitte. Nguyen worked on the launch of the Westpac American Express co-brand card – the first separately issued co-brand card. This co-brand card was developed to respond to the current regulatory environment. She highlights that she is proud of her ‘contribution towards the launch of the Westpac co-brand card by advising on various aspects including protocols, key responsibilities of each party, the requirements of the application form, and reviewing copious amounts of marketing materials and promotional activities. This product has proved to be very successful. I also added value to this project by presenting to the partnerships team on the definitive agreement (between Amex and Westpac)’. Nguyen demonstrates the skill, composure, and commercial acumen required for a top general counsel role, making her an undoubted rising star.
Capturing the attention of nominators as well as recently assuming a more senior role within his organisation, Mark Paige has distinguished himself as a member of the Transport for NSW in-house legal team during his six years at the company. Paige, the current acting deputy general counsel – projects at the statutory body, studied and trained in South Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand and South African law firm Bell Dewar before making the move to Australia. He launched his Australia legal career with Henry Davis York as special counsel specialising in the front-end (non-litigious) of construction, engineering and major projects law. At Transport for NSW, Paige has been identified as a rising star within the industry thanks to his involvement in the company’s large and important projects. These include assisting the handling of the body’s new A$51.2bn investment in the Sydney Metro and Sydney Light Rail.
Coca-Cola Amatil is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of ready-to-drink non-alcohol and alcohol beverages, coffee and food snacks in the Asia Pacific region, and one of the world’s larger bottlers of The Coca-Cola company’s product range. Coca-Cola Amatil’s legal counsel Nick Phillips started his career in the legal profession in the Wellington office of Bell Gully (New Zealand) in February 2014, advising on a range of corporate matters from company secretarial work to acquisitions, as well as commercial advices and contract reviews. In late 2016, he moved to Sydney and accepted a position at Ashurst, focusing on private and public transactions. Only four months into his time with Ashurst, Phillips was offered a secondment with Coca-Cola Amatil, a major client of the firm at the time. His secondment was extended multiple times during 2017 before he was offered a permanent role in the Coca-Cola Amatil legal team starting in January 2018. Phillips is a highly praised legal counsel showing great career potential. According to one nominator, ‘Phillips is one of the most talented and commercially astute young lawyers I have encountered in my career. He has an enormous capability for working on a wide array of initiatives and projects all at the same time, and always displays a level of calm and control’. Another nominator states ‘[His] attitude to his work and passion to help the business achieve desired outcomes is second to none. He is an all-rounder in the truest sense and is an incredibly hard-working and talented lawyer’. Recently, Phillips has worked closely with Coca-Cola Amatil’s sales teams to help secure the extension of an agreement with Hungry Jack’s to 2030; win Pizza Hut’s Australian business for the first time; and secure supply to Craveable Brands (Oporto, Red Rooster; and Chicken Treat). On top of ‘business as usual’ work, he has also advised on major projects, including M&A activity within the Amatil group and the involvement in container deposit schemes. Phillips feels that the ever-increasing impact of technology on organisations will undoubtedly have a significant impact on his career. ‘Often, new or improved technologies can trigger organisations to take the plunge on implementation without having fully considered the implications. For this reason, in-house legal teams will need to keep their finger on the pulse of their businesses, as well as being a trusted adviser to their organisation, so that they are involved as early as possible in the cost and benefit analysis’, he says. Commenting on the skills that general counsels of the future may need in order to successfully advise businesses, Phillips states: ‘It is evident that there is a growing trend of businesses wanting their in-house legal counsel to be more commercial. As such, general counsels of the future will need to become experts in balancing their professional obligations with the increasing pressure from within their organisation to support commercial outcomes. To help achieve this, general counsels will need to work closely with trusted external counsel who are able to provide advice in a form that facilitates commercial decision making, not only for the general counsel, but also their colleagues across the organisation’.
Michael Pinczuk, vice president intellectual property and business partner strategy and ventures at medical equipment company ResMed is a highly skilled lawyer with multinational jurisdictional experience and is a true exemplar of a rising star. He explains that he was ‘very lucky to start my career in-house in 2007 as a paralegal at Medtronic [and] progressed to associate legal counsel in 2009. We were a small team then, so I was given a lot of autonomy in my role focusing on all areas supporting the sales and compliance functions including privacy, competition law and product liability’. His experience was diverse ranging from supporting litigation in Malaysia to setting up a compliance programme in Singapore. In 2011 he moved to ResMed as legal counsel – Asia Pacific supporting all legal services across the region. He says that it was a ‘great opportunity, as ResMed has a large presence in Australia, which is unique for a large multinational company. I got to work on a variety of legal work from incorporating European entities to successfully concluding litigation in India’. From there, Pinczuk was promoted to senior legal counsel – global supplier alliance where he supported the procurement businesses, seeing a complete change in perspective to be at the customer end of the spectrum during negotiations. He identifies that‘as the role was global, I was lucky enough to travel extensively and negotiate significant contracts to drive value for our company. At every step of my career I have been focused on attaining broader experience’. In 2016 he was appointed associate general counsel – innovation and operations leading a team which provided legal services to ResMed’s operations teams globally, including facilities, logistics, and procurement as well as industrial relations, and quality and regulatory teams. Finally, in 2017 he ‘took a leap of faith’ and applied for his current role. He highlights that this experience has been ‘by far the most challenging and rewarding of my career. Leading ResMed’s global intellectual property group has allowed me to gain valuable business experience managing our intangible assets which includes our 5,500 plus pending and issued patents and designs globally. We have a very strong team located across the globe and pride ourselves on delivering best in class legal services’. Asking Pinczuk about his career and trends he feels will continue to have the greatest impact, he identifies that data-driven legal technology will be a major focus and it will be used to drive efficient decision making in ways unfamiliar to traditional legal functions. He also highlights that is necessary to ‘invest in your people, push them out of their comfort zones and broaden their experience. The value will follow. General counsel will need to have a sound understanding of the way technology will impact their businesses and functions to ensure they are delivering the most value. Experience in coordinating global litigation will remain a core skill set. Soft skills are obviously important and underestimated – the ability to communicate clearly and foster change quickly and with purpose will be essential. An understanding of value, its creation and destruction will also be key’. Touted as a rising star thanks to his abundant know-how in the sector and how this will impact his ability to guide future industry developments, Pinczuk has all the tools necessary to be at the forefront of these issues as they develop in Australia and further afield.
Jessie Porteus has served as the legal counsel for Coca-Cola Amatil for four years, working with a multitude of departments in several business units across Australia, advising on everything legal-related including contract drafting, commercial work, strategy, intellectual property, competition and consumer law, environment and marketing to name a few. She explains that, ‘this last year has proved to be the most revolutionary and successful year of my career in terms of having a positive impact on my team and on internal clients. I played an instrumental part in the Amatil legal team’s transformation towards being “more than just lawyers”, which is now our team tagline’. Porteus has also gone on to establish the first of its kind legal clinic, where clients within the Amatil business can attend three mornings a week to ask quick questions. She has also developed and launched the Amatil legal team’s intranet page, which includes all of the contract templates, letter templates, training slides and guidelines for use by internal business clients so they can self-serve first, before they contact the legal team for further advice. She has also been involved in rolling out the Plexus Trade Promotion Wizard technology-based solution to assist the marketing team run its trade promotions and receive terms and conditions within 24 hours. Along with the deputy group general counsel she has drafted over 20 new contract templates for procurement and sponsorship arrangements. The templates have the commercial details at the front and the legal terms at the back, allowing business clients to complete the commercial details table at the front. Porteus has always had a passion for helping law students and for education. Last year she announced the launch of her start-up, The Learned Crew (TLC), which is a legal training and “law student incubator” business. ‘My aim is to bridge the gap between what students learn at law school, and the practical skills they need to know as a lawyer in an ever-changing legal industry, and to share my study and career insights with others so that the next generation can not only survive in law, but thrive. I also have a particular passion for promoting in-house career opportunities to law students’, says Porteus.
Adrian Quah, deputy general counsel and assistant company secretary at JB Hi-Fi, started his legal career in private practice with Clayton Utz, working his way up from an articled clerk to senior associate for corporate and M&A with stops in the litigation and dispute resolution department along the way. He moved to JB Hi-Fi as a senior corporate lawyer, his first in-house position, in 2012. JB Hi-Fi is a publicly-listed Australia-wide electronics and home entertainment store headquartered in Melbourne and operating since 1974. Having impressed in that role for over five years he was promoted in 2017 to his current position. Quah is a talented legal counsel with excellent potential to become a top general counsel.
After a number of years in private practice, Emma Roberts found what she calls her ‘natural fit’ as an in-house counsel, first on secondment at BP in Scotland, to AngloGold Ashanti in Perth, before finally arriving at BHP, where she has been for four years. Her two roles in BHP as legal manager at Olympic Dam and her current role as head of legal for WA iron ore and nickel west, built on her four years at AngloGold, have allowed her to build significant experience and skills as an in-house mining lawyer, with particular expertise in managing complex operational and strategic issues within mining companies. Roberts leads a team of ten lawyers and support staff who advise on a range of legal issues, including commercial, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory matters, safety and environmental matters, and disputes. ‘My role now is now more focused on managing the team, creating and implementing team plans and strategies, and coaching, mentoring and developing team members’, says Roberts. During her four years at BHP, she has led the legal team on a number of significant operational events. She was responsible for leading the legal team for BHP at Olympic Dam in South Australia during the state power blackout in 2016, which had significant operational impact for both BHP and for the state of South Australia. She also recently managed a significant derailment following an uncontrolled rollaway train in Western Australia at the BHP iron ore operations in November 2018, as well as managing the appearance of BHP at the South Australia government-led Nuclear Fuel Royal Commissions in 2015. ‘These matters have been interesting and challenging and have given me significant experience in managing crises in complex operating environments’, she says. Roberts is also a member of the business leadership team and the Australia legal leadership team. One nominator describes her as ‘an excellent lawyer and leader, trusted by her team and the business. This reflects her practical and strategic approach, which takes into account the legal position but also the external environment and expectations of a full range of stakeholders. In doing so, she considers both short and long-term impacts and objectives’. Roberts is also an active proponent of diversity and improved well-being in the profession, and has taken a leadership role internally and externally on both topics.
Navitas is a leading global education provider that offers an extensive range of educational services to over 70,000 students across its global network. Rumpus is currently a senior legal counsel and assistant company secretary at Navitas, having added the latter role to his responsibilities in 2016. As an already established ‘go to’ specialist in the higher education legal field, Rumpus also has a track record of assisting big business outcomes. Examples include his advice on high-value transactions such as the IPO and ASX listing of Navitas (when he worked at Norton Rose Fulbright), and Navitas’ acquisition of SAE Institute and Qantm College (when he worked at Ashurst). Rumpus is a trusted adviser on Australian corporate law, corporate governance, M&A, equity capital markets, commercial agreements, ASX listing rules compliance, equity-based employee incentive schemes, and higher education law.
Stefani Russo is a highly skilled commercial technology lawyer at IRESS, an ASX 200, listed global leader in financial technology. She is considered an upcoming lawyer in the technology, media and telecoms sector, having achieved recognition by the industry press and colleagues alike. Through her experience in private practice with Mills Oakley Lawyers, she has advised on commercial agreements, technical issues, market developments, regulatory, and legislation changes. She has also overseen transactional matters for large corporate and government organisations within the technology, media and telecommunications industries. During this time, she also completed two lengthy secondments with Telstra, and further gained specialist legal skills in the technology sector. As the technology scene in Australia is a highly dynamic and fast developing environment, Russo witnesses the constant evolution and advances in technology, which allows her to formulate strategic and commercial solutions for clients in each transaction. She is able to rely on her depth of skill and commercial acumen, and is poised for a glittering rise to the top in the in-house sector.
Kim Schoeman qualified as an attorney at law in South Africa in 2008 and moved to the UK the year after. Whilst in London, she worked in-house at dunnhumby, a data science company wholly owned by Tesco. During her seven years at dunnhumby she gained extensive commercial and corporate experience across a wide variety of areas including privacy and data, IT and IP. She also undertook the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test and was admitted as a solicitor of the UK and Wales in 2010. She and her family decided after seven long winters in London they were ready for sunnier shores so moved to Sydney in 2016. Another amazing in-house opportunity presented itself and she began the position of sole in-house counsel at MySale Group reporting to the CEO. Over her two years with the Group, she looked after all commercial contracts, IP-related matters, and acted as the group compliance officer. In 2018, she undertook the necessary exams and was admitted as an Australian solicitor. She is now proudly qualified to practice law in three different jurisdictions and is currently the in-house legal counsel at Kentucky Fried Chicken responsible for all general corporate and commercial matters. The role is diverse and supports various teams including supply chain, property and development, IT and marketing. Recently her transactional highlights have included the acquisition of UK based multi-brand online retail start-up Hot!Mess; and the acquisition of Identity Direct and Ortega Publishing, an Australian and New Zealand based personalisation catalogue and online business. She has also established and implemented a comprehensive Australian consumer law compliance program pursuant to court orders and s87(b) undertaking to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission following a $500,000 fine. Schoeman has worked in large corporations across multiple jurisdictions while qualifying as a practising solicitor in each, consistently building strong relationships with key stakeholders including the CEO, COO and CFO, and where her advice was relied upon to make material business decisions. Schoeman highlights that it is a great benefit to in-house lawyers if senior management show willingness to share knowledge and insights from their experiences and show flexibility and authenticity in their mentorship. She particularly highlights ‘adaptability and flexibility in a digital world. Workplaces are changing in material ways and general counsel need to be viewed as collaborative business partners rather than traditional service providers. General counsel need to remain curious about the businesses and industries they work in and demonstrate that by building authentic relationships with their stakeholders’.
In March 2018, Gary Segal started his current role as senior legal counsel, global banking at HSBC Bank Australia. His in-house career experience is relatively recent but he carries with him an impressive private practice career at top international law firms in Australia. In his new role, Segal identifies that his proudest achievement is ‘helping the Bank execute a number of difficult transactions, particularly those that are the first of their kind (there have been a few during my short time at HSBC) where strong legal support (internally and also in terms of engaging with external counsel) is instrumental in helping a transaction progress – where the interplay between commerciality and an acute awareness of the legal issues is paramount’. One that stands out is the £2bn loan facility, including a £500m facility to finance green projects, which was the first facility of this kind in Australia and adopted the Green Loan Principles published by APLMA. HSBC was a mandated lead arranger or book-runner on this deal, and it won Syndicated Financial Institution Deal of the Year and Sustainable Deal of the Year at the Asia Pacific Syndicated Loan Market Awards. Segal identifies that among many trends within the in-house market staying relevant in terms of technology, the regulatory landscape in Australia, and the improvement of non-legal skills are vital. Technology, in particular, will transform the role of lawyers, according to Segal. He highlights that the ‘automation of documentation, advances in AI, smart contracts, blockchain, [and] digital execution are all areas which I believe will rapidly develop over the next few years and it will be very important to not only be aware of these changes but also to be open and ready to embrace them’. Segal also highlights the changing regulatory landscape in Australia, saying that ‘in a post Royal Commission, BEAR world, being an in-house lawyer for a financial institution will continue to change with the businesses that we support being more aware than ever on conduct, accountability and responsibility and as risk stewards this will no doubt have (and already has) an impact on our day-to-day responsibilities’. To continue to grow and take that next step in house, Segal continues, ‘I will most certainly need support and a level of mentorship from senior lawyers and colleagues within the businesses (locally and regionally). On the legal side, a lawyer cannot forget his or her roots and we need to make sure we continue to develop and strengthen our legal skills and this will come from having constructive relationships with senior lawyers and always having a willingness to learn and accept when you are wrong. As noted above, developing business, financial, and non-legal skills will only come from partnering with the business and putting in an effort to grow those relationships and develop trust – both ways. Being trusted and brought into a deal early and being involved during the whole lifecycle of a transaction is the best kind of support on the commercial side’, he states.
Niva Sivakumar, senior legal counsel at Mesoblast, a world leading innovative cellular medicine company, is a talented commercial and IP lawyer from a strong corporate private practice background with a sharp upward career trajectory within the in-house legal market. She began her career at K&L Gates, working in its capital markets practice, and then moving to Gadens (now Dentons) in the corporate and commercial practice. She was named in the 2014 and 2015 editions of The Legal 500 Asia Pacific Guide as a recommended lawyer for corporate and M&A. This experience brings confidence and authority to her in-house career. She has adapted skilfully to the variety of challenges the in-house lawyer is faced with in advising on Mesoblast’s commercial agreements, intellectual property licensing, corporate transactions (including equity and debt raisings), securities regulations, corporate governance, regulatory compliance, company secretarial matters, and general corporate advisory matters.
KAPL is a wholly owned subsidiary of KUFPEC, an international oil company engaged in the exploration, development and production of crude oil and natural gas outside of Kuwait and active in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. Gavan Sproule commenced his role as senior legal counsel and company secretary at KAPL in 2015. Prior to KAPL he spent nearly eight years with Shell in Australia and overseas. With an extensive background in oil and gas, he has had direct involvement in three of the largest LNG projects in Australia. During his time at Shell, Sproule was involved in a range of important deals, including finalising the joint operating agreements for the Gorgon LNG Project after more than two years of negotiation, unitising the Wheatstone and Iago fields (leading to Shell’s entry into the Wheatstone LNG Project) as well as providing sole legal support to the Prelude FLNG Project over four years, working across six work streams in multiple locations. Recently Sproule has worked on KAPL’s divestment of its legacy interest in the Harriet Joint Venture to Quadrant Energy (now Santos) which involved a complex web of agreements stretching back over 30 years and reaching a commercial resolution on significant abandonment liabilities. He also highlight his achievement in building the contractual framework for KAPL Australia’s LNG, condensate and domestic gas marketing activities from the ground-up, and closing multiple LNG and domestic gas sale agreements before first production from the Wheatstone LNG Project. From the perspective of an oil and gas lawyer, Sproule feels the changing dynamics of the global energy market will continue to have a significant impact on his career, for example, ‘the rapid development of shale oil in the US and abundance of natural gas leading to the export of LNG from the US for the first time; the fourfold increase in LNG production by Australia and its emergence as one of the world’s top LNG exporters; the continued evolution of the global LNG market with more diverse demand and supply; and the development of LNG trading hubs and transparent market pricing’. More generally, ‘corporate governance requirements and regulation have increased exponentially in Australia and will continue to do so. In-house lawyers need a much greater depth of knowledge across a wide range of areas in addition to their core focus, and formal corporate governance qualifications are almost a “must have” at more senior levels. This, in combination with the increased expectations placed on in-house legal functions, means the role of an in-house lawyer as a “business partner” will continue to grow (as well as evolve) and require a fine balance between serving the business, as client, while ensuring the independence necessary in a highly regulated environment’, he adds. Talking about the support needed to help convert ‘rising stars’ into in-house legal industry leaders, Sproule comments: ‘For me the most important thing is support from the business to grow and develop outside the core legal remit – building relationships with, and learning from, senior management in finance, engineering and corporate, as well as undertaking appropriate post-graduate courses. Within the legal fold I have had the benefit of working with some amazing senior lawyers, both in-house and externally, in my career and having senior colleagues available as a sounding-board is invaluable as part of taking the ‘next step’, especially in an in-house environment where you are relying on your own expertise and judgment much of the time’.
Gemma Stabler serves as legal manager for shipping and marketing at Fortescue Metals Group, a global leader in the iron ore industry. Stabler worked as a senior associate in the trade and transport team at DLA Phillips Fox (now DLA Piper) prior to joining Fortescue as its in-house shipping lawyer in March 2010. Not long after she joined, her role was expanded to include the marketing (international trade) function. In 2017, following a sabbatical year to undertake further study overseas where she obtained an LLM degree from New York University School of Law, she was made legal manager for shipping and marketing. ‘Having the support of my general counsel to take a sabbatical year to undertake full time study at New York University during 2016-2017 made me feel that my contribution to Fortescue was very much recognised and appreciated, and that was a great source of pride for me’, she states. Stabler believes that a major reason most lawyers choose to move in-house is to be at the intersection of law and commerce, and the most interesting matters for her are those where her advice is sought as part of a broader commercial strategy and there are a variety of legal and business imperatives at play. ‘For me, working as partner with different teams across the business, understanding the bigger corporate picture and providing advice in that context is where the most interesting elements of my work arise’, she says. Talking about her proudest achievement of in-house career, she states: ‘The delivery of Fortescue’s fleet of eight ore carriers was a proud achievement for the entire team who worked tirelessly on the project and I was no exception in feeling very proud about my involvement. I had the privilege of providing legal support on the project from its inception through to its finalisation, with an exceptional range of work from contracting with consultants during the initial concept stage, negotiating the shipbuilding contracts themselves through to the ship financing piece and providing advice during construction and post-delivery’. Stabler sees exposure to the board as essential to enable in-house lawyers to be able to rise to the level of industry leader. ‘The board represents the guiding mind of the company so it is essential to succeed as a corporate lawyer to understand the board’s drives and speak the board’s language. This is not necessarily something that comes naturally to most lawyers and is something that can really only be learned through (guided) exposure’, she says. She also believes that future general counsels will need to be leaders in legal operations, which will (amongst other things) require them to really understand what technology solutions are available and applicable to in-house legal teams. ‘My view is not necessarily that it will be essential for general counsels of the future to implement AI or technology-based solutions for their business, but they will need to at least understand the capabilities of the emerging and available technologies and be able to defend a decision as to why the in-house legal team is or is not adopting them’, Stabler states.
Alexander Staples started his career working in private practice, with a focus on commercial litigation at TressCox (now HWL Ebsworth) and then at Russells. According to Staples, ‘I had a real desire to make the move in-house, to gain exposure to how a business runs and how commercial decisions are made. I wanted to find a role that would expose me to a number of different areas of the law, which is why the role at Sibelco, a global resources company, appealed to me’. He started at Sibelco in July 2015 as a legal advisor, before being promoted to associate general counsel in January 2017. Over the last year, outside of day-to-day matters, his focus has been on an internal restructure of Sibelco’s lime and limestone businesses, involving the carve out of the business from being an integrated part of the Sibelco Group into a stand-alone entity. This has involved the transferal of mining leases, land, processing facilities, plant and equipment, as well as systems and people. The internal restructure has been done in anticipation of a global sale of the Sibelco group’s lime and limestone business, which includes assets in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Argentina, and Chile. Recently, following a serious workplace injury, Staples has successfully negotiated a WHS undertaking with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. The outcome was an alternative to prosecution and will result in a number of positive initiatives including the production of an educational safety video which will be made available online, safety workshops, and funding to a public health facility. Commenting on the support he would like to see upcoming in-house lawyers receive from their peers, Staples says: ‘Getting constructive feedback is something that I am always eager to receive, whether it be from people in my team, the wider business, or from external counsel that I engage with. I am always looking to improve the way in which I operate’.
Pernod Ricard Winemakers is the premium wine division of Pernod Ricard, one of the largest alcoholic beverage companies in the world. Edwina Stevenson joined the company in 2017 and has been serving as a senior corporate lawyer. She started her legal career in private practice, working for Wallmans Lawyers for more than two years. Stevenson then became a freelance writer for several years before returning to the legal world as an in-house lawyer for Angas Securities. Stevenson views her move in-house as the best decision she ever made. According to Stevenson, her female-lawyer friends have, in the majority, moved away from traditional lawyer roles. They all had their reasons, but the lack of flexibility in law-firm life was the predominant one. In her view, she studied law because she enjoys interacting with people and has a love of language. Being in a law firm did not adequately satisfy either of those needs, while in-house life does. In addition to her role at Pernod Ricard, Stevenson serves as a director to the board of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association.
Matthew Thompson is a highly skilled transactional legal specialist, and leads the corporate advisory internal legal team at the Bank of Queensland. He has a primary responsibility for corporate development (including M&A), treasury and financial markets (capital-raising, securitisation, IRM), corporate and business banking and agribusiness lending documentation. He is also responsible for strategic sourcing of all third party contracts with focus on procurement and IT as well as the Bank’s insurance brand. He also overlooks BOQ specialist finance to medical and dental practitioners. Thompson is on a fast track trajectory to general counsel, nominated for his legal acumen and leadership within this role as well as career achievements in previous positions. He started in the corporate finance area at Linklaters and Golden Hinde Capital, before moving to become director of special projects and advisor to the executive committee at Bank Alkhair. He then returned to private practice with a stint as a senior associate at Matilla Lawyers before joining the Bank of Queensland as a senior corporate solicitor. He rose through the ranks in six years and continues to impress, being cited as a rising star by several nominating sources.
In an extremely short space of time – having only undertaken her first in-house legal position in 2014 – Samantha Walker has hugely impressed her peers and the wider in-house legal community in Australia early on in her career. Indeed, Walker has already attracted the attention of the industry press, being nominated for an outstanding lawyer under 30 years of age award. Walker provides guidance in her legal counsel role at Nova Entertainment, an Australian entertainment company with a diverse range of interests across a number of media platforms. Collaborating with her in-house legal colleagues to provide the company’s television and radio offerings with legal and general business support, Walker is highlighted as an Australia-based rising star for her contributions to the business, belying her relatively short experience.
Daniel Wall is the senior legal counsel and company secretary at Infomedia, a publicly-listed company on the Australian Securities Exchange and a leading supplier of information solutions to the parts and service sector of the global automotive industry. Wall began his post-qualification career with Blake Dawson (now Ashurst), initially gaining experience in litigation and dispute resolution. He then spent five years in the corporate insolvency and restructuring team working for company administrators and financial institutions to advise on debt restructuring and corporate turnaround strategies. While at Black Dawson, ‘a six-month secondment with a major Australian bank provided a valuable opportunity to gain in-house experience. Learnings from secondment were successfully transferred upon return to private practice and used to enhance overall client experience’, he comments. Wall subsequently transitioned to Infomedia, first joining as a corporate lawyer in 2011. In January 2016 he was appointed as senior legal counsel and company secretary with primary responsibility for the secretariat function, and immediately implemented a number of new initiatives. Wall states that ‘being involved in the journey of Infomedia and witnessing a ten-fold growth in market capitalisation during my tenure despite several challenging periods, as well as conducting a comprehensive refresh of Infomedia’s corporate governance programme and streamlining the delivery of legal services via implementation of technology’ are some of his proudest achievements of his in-house career. During his time at Informedia, he has worked on some major projects; for example, he was involved in Infomedia’s acquisition of Nidasu in November 2018, the leading provider of data and analytics services to the aftermarket segment of the automotive industry in Australia and New Zealand. Talking about recent trends of enhanced regulation and governance, Wall states: ‘strengthening of whistle-blower protections and the ongoing prominence of social media and the internet provide unprecedented opportunities to expose unethical and wrongful behaviours of corporations. Consequently, we will continue to see enhanced regulatory responses and strengthening of governance frameworks to provide a stronger framework of corporate accountability. In-house lawyers are well-positioned to assist organisations to traverse these ethical, legal, and governance, driven challenges to help the meet organisational outcomes in an increasingly complex and transparent business world’. He also thinks that the three E’s (education, experience and exposure) are significant predictors of career success. ‘Colleagues are well placed to assist with the latter two: experience and exposure. Within the business itself, sales, product, and other commercial teams can provide terrific exposure for in-house lawyers by allowing them to engage and interact with both their internal teams and with their external clients where appropriate. These interactions often challenge the in-house lawyer to engage on a deeper level with the business and to better understand relevant commercial drivers and objectives. By building greater trust and alignment with the business, rising stars can transition from providing abstract input to delivering strategic, value enhancing advice’. Finally, Wall thinks that beyond having competent technical skills, general counsels of the future will require the following skill sets to thrive: the ability to leverage technology, sound commercial judgement, grounding in governance and ethics, and strong EQ and willingness to learn and adapt.
Elisabeth White is responsible for legal matters in her position as legal counsel at Diageo, the global leader in alcoholic beverages with over 200 brands, old and new, large and small, global and local. Diageo Australia produces, distributes and markets some of the world’s best-known premium alcoholic drinks brands including Bundaberg Rum, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Bailey’s, Don Julio and Tanqueray. In her role, White focuses on commercial outcomes, and seizes every opportunity to improve and drive change within the in-house community and in the business. A nominator highlights that ‘her broad impact includes working closely with the sales team across Australia to achieve sustainable growth, partnering with marketing on “cool in culture” advertisements, working on the latest tender for a new manufacturing supplier, and training staff in our distillery in Bundaberg. She is known to not just focus on the legal issue, but how the issue forms part of Diageo’s wider business strategy’. White is directly accountable to provide legal advice on new products and strategic projects. She drives continuous improvement initiatives across all legal process in Australasia and in the global legal team. She communicates effectively across all levels of the Diageo global business to ensure that all local business needs are met and stakeholder expectations are adequately clarified, aligned and met. White is recognised for creating and leading a culture of compliance in Diageo. Prior to joining Diageo, she was an in-house lawyer at PriceWaterhouse Coopers, where she supported the various business units and corporate functions to provide advice on legal, regulatory and risk issues. White has also worked at law firms DibbsBarker and Mills Oakley.
Verity White is a multitalented legal counsel within enterprise consumer contracting at Telstra, supporting large “whole of business” tenders for some of the largest Australian banks and other service providers. She is a specialist in small business transformation, and is guiding the small business team through a tumultuous period of change in the market and in the organisation to open a new external sales channel and work to support and develop a brand new premier business channel for Telstra’s increasingly sophisticated small business customers. A key area where White has made a tangible impact include the development of a test product decision tree tool, e-advisor, designed to triage legal work through online intake and self-help tools within the consumer and small business legal team. She champions automation skills and facilitating automation and digital thinking training as crucial future skills for lawyers within Telstra. Using various processing fluency techniques, White delivers important risk advice and options in a way that gives the advice a real impact with key decision makers during an uncertain time of change, leading to a heightened sense of value in the advice given for clients. To ensure ground level understanding of key risks of transformation and content of agreements, she developed and facilitated interactive training sessions for internal team members. White explains how these included a gamified session about the new agreement with segments like ‘“Dude.... Where’s my clause?” to encourage the business to see how easy it is to navigate the contract and high level overview sessions on the key risks when working with external partners’. White highlights that she ‘loves being part of the legal in-house and innovation community’, and achievements she has already made include the launch of the first season of a legal podcast, “Checklist Legal” about designing contracts for automation and digital workflows; selection for the Gilbert + Tobin “Off the Island” scholarship and representing Telstra at a three-day corporate innovation masterclass in New York with global companies such as Citibank, Hershey’s, and Walmart. Constantly at the forefront of new ideas, White has presented at the legal innovation and tech fest in Sydney about taking innovation ideas through testing and to roll out, as well as at the ACC national in house conference in Brisbane about change management and innovation. She also finds the time to be company secretary for Melbourne social enterprise “STREAT” and digitised and streamlined its process for distributing board minutes, and it is for these reasons White is recognised as a rising star.
Lily Wong joined PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand in 2016 and was soon promoted to senior legal manager in 2017, a leadership role supporting the sales and beverage teams, as well as key transformation projects. She is a trusted lawyer with over 10 years of experience gained both in-house and in private practice. Winning multiple in-house awards in Australia, Wong is a recognised legal counsel in the industry and is highly regarded among her colleagues. For instance, one colleague comments: ‘[She] is not only a great technical lawyer, but she exemplifies core leadership skills of integrity, empathy, and clear and simple communication. Because of this, she is sought out by the business to advise on the most complicated projects as well as representing the organisation in promoting diversity and inclusion and mentoring and developing staff across all parts of the business. There is no doubt that [she] will be a future star general counsel’. During her time at PepsiCo, Wong has worked on a number of significant projects. One of them is the reduction of PepsiCo’s geographic footprint via sale of manufacturing plants, where Wong was the PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand lead in a complex cross-functional project involving human resources, supply chain, operations, procurement and transformation office matters. ‘I successfully negotiated and executed the sale of two manufacturing facilities in excess of expectations, with value add components, such as the ability for the business to scale down over time and minimal make good. I also negotiated a sale price which exceeded capital expenditure assumption and minimal make good obligations which resulted in further significant cash savings to the business. This has enabled the closure of one of our major manufacturing sites in 2018, reducing our cost to produce’, Wong says. Another example is the rationalisation of offices and distribution centres, which involves collaborating with a cross-functional team where Wong delivered practical and commercial legal support, ensuring the successful transition to new distribution arrangements. Wong has a keen interest in organisational health and has been active in trying to shape the organisation and take responsibility for lifting employee policy and workplace standards. ‘She is driving the diversity and inclusion agenda at PepsiCo, launching the Larry Thompson fellowship program, the first international extension of the fellowship outside of the US, providing a springboard from which to advance diversity and inclusion in the legal profession by providing an in-house corporate experience to law students to facilitate a wide range of racial, ethnic, economic, and geographic backgrounds in the legal profession more broadly’, a nominator says. In addition, Wong has driven a number of other initiatives to promote diversity, including a new policy launched at PepsiCo –cultural floating holiday, where she worked with the HR team and diversity representative to allow employees to “swap out” Australian public holidays based on the Christian Anglo-Saxon calendar, for ones more culturally relevant to employees such as Chinese New Year or Eid. According to Wong, ‘At PepsiCo, we talk about knowing the business. This enables me to embed myself in the organisation and be in a better position to add value to my client. I approach problems with a strategic and legal lens to facilitate the business to land at a commercial outcome. Other important traits that future general counsel will need is emotional intelligence, adaptability and resilience. Our capacity to interact with each other plays a big role in contributing to the success of a company. In the era of artificial intelligence and the push to be faster, stronger and more efficient, soft skills like communication, empathy and what makes us human are extremely important’. Most recently, and a further evidence of Wong’s growing stature in the market, she was highlighted as the FMCG Lawyer of the Year 2019 at an industry press awards ceremony.
Jarrod Woodward works as senior legal counsel at ENGIE, a multinational electric utility company, covering Australia and New Zealand. He started his legal career at international law firm Allens, a top-tier law firm, in 2011, and in 2015 he moved to Tokyo to work as an international lawyer in the corporate group for Allen & Overy in order to gain exposure to a foreign market and work on cross-border transactions, as well as to develop an understanding of Asia Pacific business practices and cross-cultural dynamics. His work primarily focused on advising Japanese clients in relation to their complex, cross-border M&A, joint ventures and other projects, including transactions spanning Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas. During his time at Allen & Overy, Woodward was profiled in The Legal 500 Directory (Japan, corporate and M&A, international firms and joint ventures section) for being ‘a perfect blend of youthful energy, diligent case management and impeccable expertise’. Woodward transitioned into his current in-house role at ENGIE in August 2018, as he ‘wanted to gain closer access to a business and more involvement in strategic and commercial decision making’. In his role as senior legal counsel, Woodward has advised internal business at ENGIE on the development, financing, and construction of its renewable development projects, including Willogoleche Wind Farm in South Australia. ‘It has been interesting to work directly with a business on its major projects – in particular, to witness the extensive preparatory work that goes into a development project spanning all areas of the business (the extent of which is not visible from the outside), and also to focus on the ongoing implementation of the project (as opposed to only execution of the transaction documentation)’, he states. Woodward is particularly proud of the amount he has learned about the energy sector in a short space of time in his in-house role. When he entered his current position, he had only worked on transactions that touched on the energy sector but he was not involved in it on a daily basis. ‘I have invested considerable time and effort in getting up to speed with the laws and regulations governing energy, energy policy, and how energy is generated, distributed and consumed. The strides I have made in this area, together with work on certain projects, has been recognised internally. I am acting as the legal lead in respect of a number of projects and I’m looking forward to using my growing passion for this sector to help facilitate successful investment outcomes for our business’, he says. Woodward thinks the move from thermal energy generation into renewable and other lower carbon forms of energy will shape his career in the energy sector. ‘This historic time and incredibly challenging market dynamics is what drove my interest in, and move into, the energy sector’, he comments. In his view, the best support that peers can provide aspiring in-house legal industry leaders is trust and opportunity, and in-house lawyers of today and tomorrow play a critical role in an organisation which requires them to possess skills that extend significantly beyond pure legal skills. He believes that general counsels of the future should be particularly strong in the following areas: commercial acumen, people management, leadership skills and innovation. ‘I commence studying a part time masters in business administration at Melbourne Business School in the coming weeks. A key reason for my decision to undertake an MBA is to broaden my skills in the above areas so I am well positioned to be a general counsel of the future’, he says.
Kelly Xiao began as a paralegal and then solicitor at Herbert Smith Freehills in Sydney and then moved to Alice Yang & Associates Solicitors before taking up her current position at VMware in April 2016. Xiao serves as an associate employment counsel for Asia Pacific and Japan for VMware, a specialist workplace technology company. Headquartered in California, the company is a global leader in cloud infrastructure and digital workspace technology, particularly facilitating flexible working environments, modernising data centres and other digital workplace innovations. VMware is part of the Dell Technologies business group and has a global presence. Xiao is part of an important and growing Asia Pacific team based in Australia. She is an emerging talent, and has already made waves in the industry press having been named as one of the young in-house lawyers of the year for counsel under 30 years of age. Xiao shows the potential of an aspiring general counsel in the making and is a rising star to keep an eye on, thanks to her position at the forefront of in-house legal practice in the techology sector.
Toby Yiu joined Australian publicly listed media company Nine Entertainment in 2013 as corporate counsel, and has been working across a number of aspects of the Nine business, including content acquisition deals with international studios, managing its trade mark portfolio, and working closely with the general counsel on the 2018 merger with Fairfax. Yiu is highly praised among his peers, with one saying: ‘He is well liked and well respected by the business – who are very demanding for industry expertise, commerciality and responsiveness – and by his legal team peers. He seeks opportunities to extend himself by, for example, seeking and taking on board roles for joint venture bodies and industry associations. He is a great teacher of junior lawyers, [and] has the expertise and character attributes to be a future general counsel’. Another colleague states: ‘Yiu has oversight for programme acquisition contracts valued at hundreds of millions of dollars each year and his input has resulted in real wins for the business. For example, improvement in terms of trade and substantial financial savings. He “gets” the media, understands commercial relationships and drivers, and more broadly he always strives for the best outcome. Yiu is professional, exceptionally organised, always willing to help others and furthermore, he’s extremely approachable’. During his time at Nine, the business has evolved at great pace, from the introduction of new television channels and online streaming, to the launch of Nine’s own subscription video on-demand service called Stan, a competitor to Netflix in Australia. ‘My involvement with Stan is one of my favourite highlights. Stan launched ahead of Netflix in Australia and I was part of the team during the start-up phase, advising on branding and regulatory issues, negotiating technology platform agreements and content deals. It was incredibly exciting to work on a new product which has transformed the media landscape in Australia’, Yiu says. He is also the sole production lawyer for The Block, one of Nine’s biggest reality franchises. The legal aspects span multi-million-dollar property acquisition and disposal, construction, tax and all-important revenue activity such as content integration. According to Yiu, ‘businesses can cultivate rising stars by developing their commercial skills and acumen. This could be achieved in various ways, for example by allowing a lawyer to spend some time outside their usual sphere or interacting with senior leadership in a business and strategic (rather than strictly legal) context. Personally, I sought board roles which would provide the opportunity to take off my lawyer hat and flex different muscles such as finance and corporate strategy. Nine has supported this endeavour and I was appointed a non-executive director of Freeview Australia from September 2017 to February 2019. I was also recently appointed as a non-executive director to rsvp.com.au, Australia’s oldest online dating site’. In Yiu’s view, given its impact on legal practice, ‘general counsels of the future will, by necessity, need to embrace technology, in particular AI and data. With general counsels having to “make do with less”, AI and automation is likely to play a significant part in addressing that challenge which should free up resources and let lawyers apply their skills to high value work’, he explains.
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