After four months of searching for the firm’s next global managing partner, Ashurst has turned to its Australian side and appointed Sydney-based banking partner and global finance co-head Paul Jenkins as the second man in charge.
Jenkins (pictured) will assume his role from 1 June, after current head James Collis announced earlier this year he will stand down after completing his four-year term at the end of May 2016, and return to full-time practice.
The Sydney-based appointment is a symbolic move for a firm that has looked outside of the City to complete its leadership. Jenkins will join chairman and fellow New Zealander Ben Tidswell at the helm, splitting his time between London and Sydney.
Jenkins said: ‘I have a global perspective – alongside Sydney, I have worked in London and in Tokyo, and currently manage the global finance division – so it’s not about where I come from, it’s about what I’ll do and how I’ll do it.’
Part of his role will include heading the executive committee, the day-to-day management of the firm, partner performance and client management. ‘There is no change in the strategic direction of the firm in terms of my appointment. I am very much aligned to the current strategy,’ added Jenkins. ‘I want to retain the strong collaborative culture, keep internal processes and structures as simple as possible and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit for which the firm is renowned.’
Tidswell commented: ‘There is a degree of overlap with what we both do. Paul will focus on the day to day running of the firm and driving client management and behaviour, whereas I will continue with firm governance.
He added: ‘One of the things we have done really well is move away from the perception that one country or region has primacy over another. It’s a bit of a growing up point. We chose the best person for the role across a very extensive network of 27 offices.’
Jenkins, who joined Australia’s big six legacy firm Blake Dawson in 1996 and became a partner ten years later, has experience in corporate finance, debt capital markets and securitisation.
Ashurst previously had Australia-based John Carrington as its managing partner down under, who retired from the firm in October 2014. No successor to the role of Australian managing partner was appointed and the responsibilities of the position were shared across the firm’s Australia-based leadership group.
Jenkins’ appointment followed a vigorous selection process, involving a sub-committee with two non-executives, and ended up with two short-lists – one for internal candidates and the other for external candidates that were non-lawyers.
Earlier this year Ashurst brought in a headhunter to find external non-lawyers to be considered for the role as one of the options. Recruiting a non-lawyer as the firm’s next managing partner would have meant a shift toward a more ‘process-driven’ firm.