How did you land your first role in-house?
I actually trained in-house with a secondment for a seat in private practice. I was a paralegal in the in-house legal department at the Robert Walters Group and I applied for the Training Contract they had advertised, and I was fortunate enough to get it. Richard Harris, who is the current RW Chief Legal Officer and John Mayes who was RW’s then Legal Director took a punt on me, and it worked out. They and the wider RW legal dept had all come from private practice and had a really good understanding of what a Trainee needed to be successful, so they set out a really well-structured Training Contract and worked with Andrew Wilkinson at Squire Patton Boggs to offer me a seat in Squires’ corporate department as part of the Training Contract. I owe a lot of my success to those three individuals.
How did you get to Head of Legal, EMEA at FICO – was it a leap or climb?
A bit of both. I joined from the absolute rocket ship that is Databricks, but I’ve been a Head of Legal before at Qumu Corporation.
What is the most interesting piece of information you have realised you didn’t know you didn’t know about FICO?
That our first EMEA office wasn’t London, Berlin, Paris or Madrid but Monaco in 1982. I’m sure they had their reasons, but I would have thought London first, surely?
As Head of Legal, EMEA, is there anything wish you didn’t have so much knowledge about?
Sounds strange, but experience of negotiating SaaS deals opposite large enterprises. I’ve spent a large chunk of my time negotiating opposite the same banks, telcos, insurance companies and tech companies and you can’t unknow what you know, so knowing how one customer acted when negotiating for one SaaS product and then seeing them act completely differently when they try and buy another is immensely frustrating. It baffles me how the enterprise is so quick to forget what it’s done with other vendors who offer the same base underlying product/service.
What piece of advice has stuck with you since your TC days?
Attention to detail. John Mayes hammered this into me very early on and it’s set me in good stead ever since. I’ve worked with great lawyers/managers who have reinforced that over the years, Frank Egan at DocuSign and Benedict Ely at Databricks both had such a keen eye for detail, and it really pushed me to find the balance between quick response times and making sure we didn’t miss the small stuff.
What advice would you give to someone looking to make the jump now?
Speak to your mentors and get their perspective. I’ve always relied on good sounding boards over the years, and it’s helped me to see the wood from the trees. I’d also say back yourself and push yourself. There’s no point letting anyone else hold you back or being worried about what others might think etc, if you think you are good enough to achieve X then do everything you can to make it happen.
What do you miss about private practice?
My corporate seat at Squire Patton Boggs only lasted about six months, so I didn’t really have the time to ‘miss’ anything, but I do remember enjoying having other Trainees around me and all being in the same boat. It gave me a support network at my level which was really helpful at the time.
Do you have a work-life balance?
I like to think so. I don’t mind working long hours and am very used to it as I’ve worked for a few high growth US tech companies where the work rate/workload is relentless, but I always find time to do the things I want to do in life, so I can’t complain.
And finally, what is your favourite ice cream?
Halo Top chocolate. Who knew low calorie ice cream could be so good?!