Legal Business

Perspectives: Sabine Chalmers, Anheuser-Busch InBev

‘The leadership aspect of my role has definitely increased as the company has grown,’ notes Sabine Chalmers, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s chief legal and corporate affairs officer. Following AB InBev’s $104bn acquisition of SABMiller, this is putting it mildly. Mega-deals aside, the need for leadership skills has also come with the broadening of the legal function at large corporations. ‘When I first started I was just responsible for legal. Since then I have taken on corporate affairs, communications, regulation, sustainability and corporate and social responsibility. Handling all that puts a big focus on leadership.’

Early in her career, Chalmers was given an enduring piece of advice by a chief executive. ‘If you want to spot a leader look for three things: judgement, influence and drive.’ It is a benchmark she has continued to use in measuring both her own progress and the potential of her team to step into more senior roles. ‘As a GC you are expected to get the law right and advise appropriately, but the big differentiator is the judgement you apply to that. If you don’t have the influence or the drive to take your judgements through to conclusion there’s no point in having the job of general counsel.’