Taking a step back from a big corporate to join a start-up was certainly a big decision!
From my perspective, I was looking at a couple of really key considerations when contemplating this move. One of those, was a desire on my part to continue to learn and grow. When you’re working for a big organisation, it’s natural that you’re going to become siloed – you have an expert on HR, an expert on IP – and it can make personal growth difficult, as they don’t necessarily have the time to teach you or give you the types of assignments that you’d need to expand your knowledge base. They’re the experts and the company needs them focused on being those experts.
I had so many things I wanted to learn – two big ones were HR and corporate securities law – but with such a big company and a defined structure, that wasn’t an opportunity I was probably going to get. By moving to a start-up, coming in as the first lawyer, by default – you’re the guy.
There’s also the excitement of being a part of something from the beginning.
Given the nature of Lumina Networks as a business, they knew that they had to get their legal structures in place properly from the start. There was going to be a host of commercial agreements and structures that were going to need to evolve, not to mention issues with GDPR – in addition to all of the usual legal pitfalls that any start-up company can run into.
At the same time – while it’s an exciting opportunity – it can also be daunting.
I’ve known our CEO Andrew Coward for 15 years now – we worked together at Jupiter Networks before I joined Lumina. But not just from the perspective of wanting to do the right thing by Andrew and the rest of the team – both personally and professionally – when you’re working for a start-up, you can’t ever lose sight of what those people have put in to get the company to where it is now and where we hope to see it going. For them, it’s not just a matter of time and opportunity, but in companies like these – it can be their homes, their livelihoods, their reputations on the line.
There’s always a sense of responsibility – as a lawyer, as professional, as a person – in any role you take. But when it’s in a small start-up business, it’s much more personal.