Penny Jones – GC Powerlist
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Rising Stars Australia 2022

Financials

Penny Jones

Head of legal, dispute resolution group | ANZ Banking Group

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    Rising Stars Australia 2022

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    Penny Jones

    Head of legal, dispute resolution group | ANZ Banking Group

    Could you tell us a bit about your significant successes in your role?

    I lead a high performing team of disputes lawyers responsible for actively managing the bank’s litigation portfolio and for providing strategic front-end advice and support to the bank on litigation exposure and risk. A key part of our focus, currently, is leading the bank’s defence of four major class actions in Australia. While the significant successes achieved in this role are unable to be disclosed publicly, our success is attained by achieving efficient, cost-effective, and risk-weighted outcomes for the bank, while ensuring that we deliver commercially relevant and pragmatic advice which manages business reputation and exposure to future litigation. In doing so, this year, I have reshaped the team to align with the changing focus of the bank and have developed and implemented new practices for building efficiency and delivering cost effective legal services, including implementation of a direct briefing to counsel model, and building capability and expertise in emerging areas of risk for the business.

    In your opinion, what are the qualities and skills needed to form a strong legal team?

    The most effective legal teams that I have worked in have a strong culture of collaboration and support, where the team functions as a whole to achieve common objectives and to drive commercial outcomes for the business, rather than working as individual contributors sitting alongside one another. Establishing a culture such as this requires strong leadership to set the shared vision, align the objectives of the team with the values, purpose, and broader objectives of the business, and to motivate and empower the team to work productively and optimally. This requires skills such as effective communication, leading with empathy, flexibility, and the ability to build trust and support within the team.

    What is the biggest risk to your industry or organisation and how are you contributing to prepare your organisation for this?

    A key challenge for the financial services industry remains increased regulatory expectations and changing community standards, particularly as they relate to ESG. A key focus that I have driven within my team is building internal expertise in areas of risk for the bank, including through supporting formal and informal learning, so that we are in a position to support the business to navigate these risks and remain focused on achieving its key priorities. It is important to me to stay abreast of key areas of emerging litigation risk, including climate change and cyber, to future proof the team and prepare the business to deal with developments in these areas.

    What challenges have you overcome to get to the position you are in today?

    One of the key challenges I have experienced through my career is being able to strike a healthy balance between being a present parent to my small children, and a driven lawyer with ambitious career objectives. This was particularly challenging during the lock-down periods in the pandemic while juggling home-schooling, closed childcare centres and an increasing demand for in-house legal services within businesses. I have been fortunate to have had incredibly supportive employers while I have had small children, who provided the flexibility and support I needed to provide equal focus to my family and my career objectives. The wide adoption of flexible work practices and hybrid workplaces which has emerged following the pandemic has and will continue to have a significant and positive impact on enabling working parents to more effectively strike this balance, and will remove some of the barriers to success for young lawyers in the future.

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