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Group general counsel

Martin Bowen has developed a multidisciplinary intellectual property team at Dyson that has harnessed the power of new technologies to operate as efficiently as the company’s vacuum cleaners. Consisting of lawyers, engineers and marketers, the team identifies products infringing on its IP across the globe and assembles the necessary information to launch a challenge within 48 hours. Dyson’s IP team has been commended in the FT Innovative Lawyer reports for its extraordinary engagement in the business, which has generated significant cost savings. Max Conze, Dyson chief executive, describes Mr Bowen as “critical partner and leader to all parts of the enterprise — from opening countries to opening factories, to defending our IP and to ensuring we serve Dyson owners flawlessly”.

Group general counsel
BAE Systems

With experience in the pharmaceuticals and telecommunication sectors, Philip Bramwell helps industries that are undergoing difficult change. When asked to describe the purpose of a corporation, Mr Bramwell says that it is “creating sustainable value measured by value to customers, returns to owners, opportunity to employers and benefit to wider society”. Thus one of his big challenges is to continue to build trust in large corporations. This is not an easy task but one that is essential for a general counsel who was hired to embed a culture of compliance and ethics into one of the world’s largest arms traders. Chief executive Ian King says: “Philip brings sound judgment and an unswerving commitment to the integrity and long-term sustainability of the business — these are the bedrock of his contribution.”

General counsel
Wikimedia Foundation

Winner of the first North American Innovative General Counsel award, Geoff Brigham has had a rich and varied career. It spans an education in music and law, and roles at the Department of Justice and as deputy general counsel at eBay. As general counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation behind online encyclopedia Wikipedia, he leads a team of lawyers, legal specialists and Wikipedia’s community of volunteers to draft policy and solve legal problems. Mr Brigham has pioneered the concept of crowdsourcing legal advice, which ensures policy is developed in a collaborative and transparent way. Importantly, it also builds essential support and links with the organisation’s community. He says: “Lawyers, like regulators, must start embracing the ‘sharing economy’,” because businesses depend on individuals’ resources.

Executive officer and general counsel
Itochu Corporation

When Mitsuru Claire Chino was appointed executive officer and general manager of Itochu Corporation’s legal division in 2013, she became the first female executive director in a Japanese trading company, as well as the youngest. Since joining the conglomerate, Ms Chino has launched programmes to foster gender diversity. With Japan’s poor record — women hold 3.1 per cent of board seats, according to a 2015 survey — initiatives such as her mentoring scheme were avenues for women in the company to find advice, and the programme has inspired more experienced female workers to think like leaders. “This is more of a wider comment about Japanese society, but I really do think that diversity (whether be it gender, age and so on) and more mobility in the workforce will result in more innovation,” says Ms Chino.

Group general counsel

The healthcare industry is undergoing a period of transformation, and Felix Ehrat and his legal team have led Novartis into new sectors and new ways of doing business. In 2013, his work on a joint venture enabled an exclusive global collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania to research, develop and commercialise a potentially revolutionary immunotherapy treatment for cancer. Last year the FT featured the role Novartis lawyers are playing in the company’s approach to digital medicines. Chief executive Joseph Jimenez says: “Legal is one of the drivers of economic growth of our company.” Mr Ehrat believes legal has a key role to play in supporting and shaping the change under way in healthcare. He believes “drivers for success will be an appetite for change, flexibility, courage and resilience”.

Group general counsel and company secretary
BT Group

Facing a year-on-year budget cut of 5 per cent at the telecommunications group, Dan Fitz reorganised his team to deliver legal, compliance and governance advice more effectively and efficiently. He has improved every aspect of how the legal team, which won BT the Europe Innovative Lawyers in-house award in 2015, now operates. Two years earlier, Mr Fitz led the creation of BT Law, an alternative business structure that services legal claims for BT and other clients and generates £5m in annual revenue. Gavin Patterson, BT’s chief executive, praises Mr Fitz’s global reach and perspective; he also admires the way his team of 450 lawyers “interacts intensively” with each other and the business. He adds: “Through Dan, BT benefits from an extensive network of external and internal legal talent.”

Senior vice-president, legal affairs, and general counsel

A trained chemical engineer, Ivan Fong epitomises the modern general counsel. Before joining multinational conglomerate 3M in 2012, he held general counsel roles at the US Department of Homeland Security, Cardinal Health and GE Vendor Financial Services. He created a vibrant compliance programme, improved supply chain management and developed a robust approach to intellectual property for 3M. He sees the purpose of a corporation as harnessing people, ideas and capital to increase social value. His chief executive, Inge Thulin, says his company’s reputation “has flourished under Ivan and his legal team. When customers know they can trust you to operate with integrity in every industry and every part of the world, that is a tremendous competitive advantage.”

Group general counsel
Australian Securities Exchange

In a broad role at Australia’s primary securities exchange (ASX), Amanda Harkness has an influence that extends to the success of Australia’s financial markets and exchanges and regulators overseas. Ms Harkness has found faster pathways for regulatory approvals, reduced the cost of compliance and enabled the ASX to launch numerous products and services. Elmer Funke Kupper, ASX’s former chief executive, says that “without a doubt” she has given the business a competitive advantage, enabling it to compete with much larger exchanges elsewhere. He says: “Amanda played a key role in ensuring that the Australian regulatory framework and ASX’s implementation are ‘fit for purpose’.” Ms Harkness recently helped ASX to introduce distributed ledger technology, which has the potential to accelerate the post-trade process.

Vice-president and general counsel

Brent Irvin joined Tencent in 2010 to build a legal team for the fast-growing Chinese internet company. He describes his greatest challenge as “managing increasing regulatory scrutiny and litigation while still allowing the company to serve users in a fast and creative way”. In 2012, Mr Irvin established the Tencent Cyber Law Research Centre, a forum to share best practice, and his team continues to play a role educating the Chinese courts and regulators about the importance of protecting intellectual property. When asked if he had one big idea that would improve how his industry operates, he replies: “I think the use of technology needs to get better. While there are moves in this direction already, too often lawyers work through hard issues by simply working hard(er).”

Chief operating officer

Tom Kilroy, winner of the first Most Innovative General Counsel award, made the rare leap from in-house lawyer to acting chief executive officer in 2012, providing executive leadership in a critical takeover period. He joined Misys, a financial services software company, in 2009, and as general counsel and company secretary he has turned his legal team into a revenue-generating department. He helped Misys through a programme of transformation that has seen substantial growth in both sales and employee satisfaction. He now leads 900 of the company’s 4,700 staff in his role as chief operating officer, and has created a path for other general counsel wanting to move into business leadership roles. When asked what he thinks the proper business of a corporation should be, he replies: “To invent the future.”

Executive vice-president and general counsel

The Nasdaq stock exchange operates at the intersection of technology and regulation. Edward Knight heads a legal and regulatory team of 200, supporting the business in highly regulated markets. Unusually, it can be viewed as an extension of the regulator and its role is to create new rules and to enforce them. Mr Knight thinks the business has much in common with a Silicon Valley technology company, and has built a team of lawyers with diverse experience and computer programmers to work alongside one another. They are also inventors and revenue generators, and have patented a market surveillance technology to be used by regulators. Mr Knight sees the general counsel of the future as having “dual degrees in the law and computer science or computer engineering”.

Head of legal and regulatory affairs

Massimo Mantovani could be considered the king of legal function organisation. On joining Eni, an Italian oil and gas company, in 2007, his first priority was to centralise legal operations, followed by a restructuring that was radical at the time: organising the internal lawyers to reflect the company’s largest risks rather than its business lines. It has enabled the in-house legal division to become what the chief executive now describes as “an essential strategic and problem-solving partner to the business units”. Mr Mantovani plays a leading role fighting corruption and bribery in business globally. He helped the United Nations to establish an oil and gas sector working group and worked with the International Bar Association and others to develop an anti-corruption strategy for the legal profession.

Group general counsel and company secretary

The winner of the FT’s inaugural in-house award in 2007 and its special achievement award in 2014, Rosemary Martin personifies a general counsel at the top of her game. Her first general counsel role at Reuters saw her shift the status of the in-house legal team from that of cost centre to driver of growth. The team had an extensive remit, from advising on government and regulatory affairs to social responsibility. Ms Martin also spent time as chief executive for the Practical Law Company before Vodafone. When asked for one big idea on how to improve the way her industry works, she replies: “I would love to see the industry adopt more standardised contracts and start using smart contracting and distributed ledger technology to speed things up and reduce uncertainty.”

Group general counsel

Carmel Mulhern heads the legal team at Australia’s largest telecommunications and media company and is the winner of the 2016 Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers in-house legal award after many peer recommendations. She finds ways to better harness lawyers’ energy and creativity, and reinvent the way the legal team and the business operate. She has introduced ideas such as design thinking, which encourages creative approaches to problems, and sprints (short periods for rapidly developing and testing ideas) to find new ways of working in any business area. Telstra’s chief financial officer endorses Ms Mulhern’s ability to deliver competitive advantage to the business. Ms Mulhern says that her one big idea for making the industry better is: “To focus on customer experience. And we can do this just as easily as lawyers as commercial people.”

General counsel and chief franchise officer

Bringing experience from a range of senior business roles to the job, Timothy Murphy is an unusual general counsel. Before his current position, he was MasterCard’s chief product officer and president of its US business. He says that these experiences have changed his understanding of what it means to deliver value as a lawyer. During his time as general counsel, Mr Murphy has reorganised and embedded lawyers into the business, positioning them as co-investors in its future. He has drafted and driven new business strategies and continues to add to the company’s growth by developing products and strengthening its approach to intellectual property. Protecting patents for the company’s payments technology has delivered a clear competitive advantage.

Senior vice-president, chief legal officer and company secretary

In her previous role as chief legal officer of Nokia, Louise Pentland led her team through a period of dramatic change: she merged the legal and intellectual property departments, created platforms to enable collaborative working and encouraged lawyers to broaden their skills in other areas of law or business. The agile team she developed was better equipped to adapt to the quickly changing needs of the business. A supporter of diversity in the legal profession, she mentors young women and speaks on panels to encourage more women to pursue the role of general counsel. In 2015, Ms Pentland took on her current roles at online payments service PayPal. One of her first projects has been to launch a global pro-bono initiative to provide legal services to communities worldwide.

Senior vice-president and group general counsel

As the first appointed general counsel of Ansell, Bill Reilly has had to get his hands dirty. Luckily he works for a global maker of rubber gloves. One of the company’s longest-serving executives, he has built a lean team of 11 lawyers who serve a $1.6bn company operating in over 50 jurisdictions. He has helped to develop the company’s patent portfolio and his knack for negotiation has driven a successful mergers and acquisitions strategy. Mr Reilly’s technological foresight has meant the company’s legal team was quick to adopt the Serengeti legal tracking platform and automate its contract management processes. When asked what he does that his chief executive does not know about, he says: “Invest time in continuous learning (market knowledge, new processes, management skills), mentoring senior leaders.”

General counsel and senior vice-president
Intel Corporation

Since joining Intel in 2000, Steven Rodgers has risen through the ranks and in 2014 took on his current roles. Mr Rodgers leads Intel’s law and policy group and is a senior member of the executive team. In 2015 he introduced a programme to identify and nurture talent at law firms used by the company, giving greater opportunities to high-performing junior lawyers and helping to build long-term relationships with them. He has been heavily involved in Intel’s successful litigation strategy, with several prominent victories including a case at the International Trade Commission that helped to prevent a ban on the import of Intel microprocessors into the US. He oversees a team of about 500 lawyers across over a dozen countries and has advised on Intel’s billion-dollar investments in China.

Executive vice-president, general counsel and corporate secretary

Donald Rosenberg has revolutionised Qualcomm’s intellectual property strategy and delivered substantial returns to the company, which develops wireless technology and services. He took on the role at Qualcomm after a stint as general counsel at Apple and nine years with IBM. In addition to numerous internal process improvements, his chief innovation has been the creation of a cross-functional intellectual property litigation department with lawyers, engineers and business professionals. In doing this, he made the company more active in defending its IP than it had been. He says the best way to improve the industry would be to “respect and value IP for what it has been and will continue to be — the driver of innovation and progress.”

Executive vice-president and general counsel

Over the past five years, Thomas Russo has helped bring insurance group AIG back from the brink of bankruptcy. He organised and centralised much of AIG’s $2.5bn annual legal budget, allowing the company to collect data and exercise greater control. In 2015, AIG announced plans to launch a consulting business that will draw on the company’s legal purchasing data to help other business buy legal services at competitive prices. In Mr Russo’s view, the general counsel of the future must embrace technology. Referring to recent developments in artificial intelligence, he says: “If a computer can beat the most sophisticated expert in the most complicated game, it can answer or draft a complaint and can produce a quality first draft of a brief or merger agreement.”

General counsel, director of strategy and mergers and acquisitions

Jos Sclater, who leads the legal team at GKN, the global engineering company, is one of a new breed of general counsel. GKN’s chief executive, Nigel Stein, says Mr Sclater “contributes on a broad front far beyond the normal remit of a general counsel” and he was even interim head of human resources for a period. Other functional responsibilities include being head of corporate strategy, where his leadership of successful acquisitions has given the GKN board the confidence to take more risk. He enables the legal team to play a more influential role with the business. Mr Sclater says: “The general counsel of the future will have to possess a bigger toolkit with which to add value to the business, from general commercial acumen to financial and project management skills.”

Group general counsel and corporate secretary
CK Hutchison Holdings

Edith Shih joined diverse Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa in 1993 as its sole legal counsel. She now leads a team of around 300 lawyers and in 2015 helped guide Hutchison Whampoa through its $24bn merger with Cheung Kong Holdings to form CK Hutchison Holdings. Ms Shih is viewed by her colleagues as an enabler of the company’s expansion. Her team has handled a number of large acquisitions, including those of mobile phone networks Orange in Austria and O2 in Ireland. It also manages complex regulatory and compliance requirements across a business operating in more than 50 countries. Ms Shih says she would like to see “senior leaders in the in-house counsel industry” create a trade organisation to promote “the interest, growth and wellbeing of the industry”.

Executive vice-president, secretary and general counsel

David Snively is general counsel for a controversial company. Agrochemical producer and biotechnology developer Monsanto has been criticised by environmentalists for its work with genetically modified crops and has endured public demonstrations against its work. This puts Mr Snively in a delicate position, as bringing new products to market means Monsanto has to get clearance from multiple regulators for each one. This extensive regulatory work is matched by often high-profile litigation. The legal team won the FT’s Most Innovative In-house Legal Team award in the US in 2013. He says that his big idea to improve how his industry works is to “overthrow the ‘precautionary principle’ since it constrains advancement of innovation and society by diminishing the role of science”.

General counsel

In 2007, Tim Steinert left the corporate practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for a post at an internet ecommerce company that was less than 10 years old, based in Hangzhou, China. After nine years at the helm of Alibaba’s in-house team, Tim has built it into one of the world’s most sophisticated. It was commended as both operationally efficient and technically brilliant. In 2014 alone the team handled around 50 complex financing transactions, in addition to Alibaba’s $25bn stock offering, the world’s largest. Mr Steinert has harnessed Alibaba’s analytics and processing power to better scrutinise contracts. Mr Steinert says: “If you don’t have the data, you can’t have an objective and comprehensive basis to make . . . assessments and target the area you need to fix.”

Group general counsel
Legal & General

While the general counsel may traditionally be viewed as the goalkeeper on a football team, Geoffrey Timms has been described by his colleagues as a free-scoring midfield player — an all-round achiever, rather than a reactive pair of hands. He leads a lean team to support a financial services company with annual revenues of over £17bn. He has helped the business hold the biggest market share in its sector through organic growth and a series of mergers and acquisitions. Mr Timms is described as a great motivator and someone who shares the collective ambition of the Legal & General group. He says the job of the general counsel is to: “Make judgment calls. For example, going to the wire on difficult external negotiations and taking full responsibility for the outcome. General counsel are expendable, chief executives are not.”

Chief legal officer and company secretary

In his time at bpost, Dirk Tirez has seen Belgium’s postal company go through substantial change from a state-owned bureaucracy to a private company and, in 2013, to a public company. Along the way, he has overhauled compliance and changed the perception of the legal team from an old-school support service to value-adding strategists, in line with other general counsel across industry. Several in-house lawyers now hold management positions. Mr Tirez says he thinks the counsel of the future will help to create value and influence. He believes that they will also resolve the tension that is inherent in a role that encompasses being a strategic leader, a trusted adviser and a problem solver. Furthermore, he feels that they will become an integral part of boardroom culture.

Senior vice-president and general counsel

Since he joined GSK in 2008, Dan Troy has been working to move the legal profession away from its reliance on the hourly rate — acknowledged by some law firms’ managing partners as the main obstacle to innovation in the sector. His department collects extensive data on company’s spending on lawyers and has invested in fee analytics. Mr Troy has pioneered approaches to incentivise law firms for delivering better value and efficiency. It now employs a reverse auction process for large matters, selecting firms based on factors besides price, such as diversity. He says that the general counsel of the future will be: “Global, mobile, digitally and IT savvy, flexible, forward leaning, comfortable with uncertainty but able to provide stability to legal departments, executive teams and boards.”

Senior vice-president and general counsel

Describing his role as “adviser and advocate”, Kent Walker believes that “one key to being a good general counsel is making sure that you’re deeply in sync with the business. Even the behind-the-scenes work should be in the service of the company’s mission.”

He says that mission, in Google’s case, is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible. To do so sometimes requires fighting high-profile battles in court against competitors and governments. Google’s success means Mr Walker is prominent in resolving complex issues in an industry that often moves into areas the law has not yet contemplated. However, the value he delivers to the business is not just in solving problems but anticipating them.

Group general counsel and company secretary

When asked to describe the role of the general counsel in three words, Clare Wardle of multinational retailer Kingfisher gives it a new title: “chief sorting officer”. With a background at the Royal Mail and the Post Office, this may refer to ensuring missives reach their correct recipient, but is more likely to mean the role she plays in corporate problem solving beyond her legal and compliance responsibilities. She is widely recognised as a trailblazer for women in the boardroom and a leader in both the business and legal worlds. Women occupy more than half of Kingfisher’s leadership roles and this is in part credited to the Kingfisher Women’s Network, established by Ms Wardle. When asked what things she does that her chief executive does not know about, she replies: “Join the dots for people.”

Director of governance and law
Kent County Council

The first in-house lawyer to set up a revenue-generating model for his department, Geoff Wild pioneered the idea that a legal team could move away from being a pure cost centre. This shared-service model has been adopted by several other general counsel working in the private sector. Mr Wild’s work at Kent County Council has been featured in the FT Innovative Lawyers report on several occasions, and Mr Wild himself won the Most Innovative General Counsel award in 2014. Over a decade, Mr Wild and his team have brought in profits of over £15m to Kent County Council to help fund community services. The three words Mr Wild uses to describe his role: “Peace. Of. Mind.” David Cockburn, head of paid services at the council, says that Mr Wild “returns reputational and financial benefit [and] gives us real competitive value”.

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