The BT interview – ideas from the bath

The BT interview – ideas from the bath

Legal Business (LB): Eighteen months in the group general counsel role, what have been some of the key projects since you landed? The wider business has been through a lot of transformation, how is legal keeping up?

Sabine Chalmers (SC), group GC, BT: When I joined, Gavin Patterson was my boss. He’s since left the business and we’ve transitioned to Philip Jansen from Worldpay. During that time the focus has been on learning the company and industry, getting to know and work with a new CEO, new board, my team, and as a result of all that identifying as quickly as possible what the strategic priorities for the function are and how to best support the business. Early on I reorganised my leadership team to mirror the evolving structure of the business, to ensure we had GCs reporting to me that were lined up with each of the business and corporate units: we announced that in June 2018. Continue reading “The BT interview – ideas from the bath”

The imagination gap – Meet the GCs on the frontline of the climate change battle

The imagination gap – Meet the GCs on the frontline of the climate change battle

Rising temperatures and sea levels, shrinking ice sheets and sea ice, extreme weather events. They’re all mainstays of today’s news cycles with a worrying – and growing – frequency.

‘The more you read about the shape of our planet, it’s inevitable you become concerned, it’s inevitable that you want to do something. The only way you can exist nowadays in an unengaged way, as a non-activist, is by shutting yourself off completely from all this information,’ says Jasper Teulings, general counsel of Greenpeace International. Continue reading “The imagination gap – Meet the GCs on the frontline of the climate change battle”

In-house: The client perspectives

In-house: The client perspectives

Dan Webster, group general counsel at Harrods, discusses what it takes to advise one of the world’s most recognisable department stores

I studied law at the London School of Economics and went to law school in Chester. I got a training contract at what is now CMS. I qualified in litigation, stayed a couple of years at CMS and then moved to SNR Denton. I stayed there for a few years and then decided I wanted a change. To my surprise, an opportunity came up to be an in-house litigator at Harrods, where the then-owner was famously very litigious. Once at Harrods, I quickly realised I was meant to be an in-house lawyer and, over time, I’ve evolved into a commercial, corporate, employment, IP all-rounder. Continue reading “In-house: The client perspectives”

The Client Profile: Sonya Rogerson, Bank of China

The Client Profile: Sonya Rogerson, Bank of China

Born in Hong Kong to an English father and a Chinese mother but raised in Australia, Sonya Rogerson’s passion for different cultures and foreign travel is no surprise. ‘Do I miss home?’ she asks herself. ‘Well, home is where I make it.’

Now based in London, she is two years into her role as UK general counsel (GC) and head of legal and compliance of the fourth-largest bank in the world, Beijing-headquartered and state-owned Bank of China (BoC). She says she was headhunted to run a legal and compliance team of 47 staff not only because of her lengthy résumé of handling transactional legal work in the Asia-Pacific region but also her experience of working with the Chinese. Continue reading “The Client Profile: Sonya Rogerson, Bank of China”

The in-house lawyer debate – Fit for purpose

The in-house lawyer debate – Fit for purpose

Mark McAteer, Legal Business: How has the role of the general counsel [GC] changed over the last five years and how will it be different in five years’ time?

Alessandro Galtieri, Colt Technology Services: It is now absolutely not enough to be just a specialist or a good manager of a team of lawyers. You need to be part of strategic conversation if you are sitting at the board level. Otherwise, you are not really adding value. Continue reading “The in-house lawyer debate – Fit for purpose”

Scrum time – Can agile project management deliver for GCs?

Scrum time – Can agile project management deliver for GCs?

Business is full of buzzwords, and among the buzziest of the last few years is ‘agile’.

The traditional project management approach is ‘waterfall’. But, in contrast to the dynamism of the term, the waterfall process can be rigid. After a long period of requirement gathering and planning, the project is developed in a linear way, journeying through multiple phases and silos. A final product is delivered after an often lengthy process, perhaps measured in months or years, but with little opportunity for adaptation once the project has begun. Continue reading “Scrum time – Can agile project management deliver for GCs?”

Chicken run – GCs notes from the middle of a crisis

Chicken run – GCs notes from the middle of a crisis

In an exclusive extract from her new book You Didn’t Mention The Piranhas, Sarah Nelson Smith writes candidly about how it feels to be in the middle of a PR crisis:

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In the second week of the crisis, the snow came. It had toyed with us for several days, threatening a festive dusting, but then changed tack and engulfed the country in a thick white blanket, mocking the efforts to get trucks loaded and onto the roads by rendering many of them impassable. I needed to get to Rugby, but living at the bottom of a hill on a country lane with a rear-wheel-drive car, I had no hope. Continue reading “Chicken run – GCs notes from the middle of a crisis”

The In-House Survey: Blurred lines – the GC as business leader

The In-House Survey: Blurred lines – the GC as business leader

Climate change and sustainability dominated news headlines in 2019. Extinction Rebellion protests, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg leading climate strikes around the world, while the President of the US has labelled it all a ‘hoax’. Investors are, in turn, increasingly putting pressure on the world’s largest companies to respond. It has become an enormous area of risk management for every business sector.

And responsibility for managing and assessing that risk has increasingly fallen upon the general counsel (GC). Andrea Harris, group chief counsel at the world’s largest marketing and public relations company, WPP, in recent years took on the head of group sustainability role, as has Heathrow Airport GC Carol Hui. Lawyers at Specsavers sit on that company’s sustainability group to help shape policy, while the GC at FTSE 100 energy giant Centrica, Justine Campbell, identifies the area as one of the biggest challenges she faces. Continue reading “The In-House Survey: Blurred lines – the GC as business leader”

The Scots GC debate: Force multipliers

The Scots GC debate: Force multipliers

Hamish McNicol, Legal Business: How do you build your identity and culture as a legal team? And how do you then communicate your teams’ qualities to the wider business?

Findlay Anderson, Baker Hughes Oilfield Equipment: The culture of the legal team comes from two different sources. One is the general counsel setting the rhythm for how they want their team to operate with the business. A lot of that comes down to the personality of the GC. The other factor is how the business sees its legal team: are they a hired function that sits in a corner and you call on them when you need them, or do you put them right in the middle of the decision-making of the company? Continue reading “The Scots GC debate: Force multipliers”