Listen to this article
The judges had a wide-ranging debate about who among our 10 finalists most deserved the Intelligent Business Market Shaper award.
All the individuals on the short list were innovative: the judges therefore focused on who had made the greatest impact on their particular business or market.
More often than not, the finalists also displayed personal grit — whether in quitting well-paid jobs at law firms or challenging the status quo at other established businesses.
The ultimate winner, however, was Noah Waisberg, co-founder and chief executive of Kira Systems.
Mr Waisberg focused on one area early on, to make artificial intelligence the revolutionary force it is today — whether in reviewing millions of documents for a court case or highlighting costly inefficiencies in contracting.
Leyla Boulton, chair of judges
Co-founder and chief executive
When Noah Waisberg left his job as a transactional lawyer at the New York offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges to set up a technology company in 2010, it coincided with a rapid advancement of the accuracy and capability of artificial intelligence technologies.
“When I co-founded Kira Systems . . . contracts were almost always reviewed manually,” says Mr Waisberg. The first challenge was to get the technology to work, but the harder one was to convince lawyers to try, trust and pay for AI software for contract analysis.
Now almost all the top global law, audit and consulting firms use contract analysis software. Kira has numerous competitors but it has established itself as a market leader. In September Insight Venture Partners paid $50m for a minority stake in the business.
“I think I am part of why lawyers are among the leading users of artificial intelligence,” Mr Waisberg says.
Global chief operating officer, legal
Rose Battaglia was practising and defining the principles of effective legal operations when few had heard the term “legal ops”.
When she became global chief operating officer of Deutsche Bank’s legal department, Ms Battaglia changed the way external legal counsel instructions were handled by introducing an IT-based system, Click4Legal, to the global markets division in late 2007. This was one of the first attempts to standardise the way external lawyers are instructed in banking by creating an online tender through which selected law firms could bid for work. Despite colleagues’ objections that transactions were bespoke, the system enabled Deutsche to obtain greater insight into its operations and cut external legal spending. Before joining Deutsche in 2003, Ms Battaglia was global chief administrative officer for the legal and compliance department at Credit Suisse.
Chief of staff and senior director of legal operations
Connie Brenton is one of the founders of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, or Cloc, a network of experts in legal operations. Attendance at the group’s annual conference reached 2,000 people in 2018, up from about 500 in 2016.
Ms Brenton has helped define the role of a legal operations professional through her work at Cloc and in her job at NetApp, a US data storage company listed on the Fortune 500.
NetApp’s legal department was noted for its early adoption of data analytics, new technologies and the optimisation of workflows that have led to improved efficiency and cost savings.
Before joining NetApp in 2010, Ms Brenton worked as managing counsel at Oracle and deputy general counsel at Sun Microsystems.
Founder and executive chairman
Though he first trained as a doctor, Liam Brown’s career has spanned computer games, publishing and printing, outsourcing and the law.
One problem facing the legal industry in 2001 was inefficiency and expense in the way lawyers handled legal processes. The business Mr Brown founded that year, Integreon, was one of the first legal process outsourcing firms to use lower-cost locations, process improvements and technology to do this work more efficiently. The company was a leader in what has grown into a multibillion-dollar market.
When he sold Integreon to private equity investors in 2011, Mr Brown set up Elevate Services. The business draws on legal and technology expertise, data science and consulting tools to help legal departments and firms improve the way they work. Elevate now has revenues of nearly $50m and employs 700 people around the world.
Vice-president for global solutions
Over the past 10 years, has worked in global brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Shanghai and New York offices, after an initial year at its Belgian headquarters in 2007.
He worked in the finance team and set up a shared services centre in Xiamen, China, before being appointed vice-president of finance for the company in Asia-Pacific in 2015.
Most recently, Mr Festetics led the use of technology to make products more targeted to clients, manage the supply chain and automate operational support. He helped create BrewRight, the machine learning technology that works to predict corruption and fraud.
He is also working with breweries to introduce machine learning technologies and to help AB InBev use satellite and drone data to predict the cost and availability of crops such as barley.
Chief risk, compliance and security officer
Aaron Karczmer cut his teeth in law enforcement at the New York County district attorney’s office. There, he co-founded the Identity Theft Unit, taking on the role of investigating and prosecuting cyber criminals, data and identity theft as well as counterfeit credit card rings. He also ran long-term informant and undercover operations on the Firearms Trafficking Unit.
At PayPal, Mr Karczmer is one of the few compliance officers in a Fortune 500 company that reports directly to the chief executive. Appointed in 2016, he has a wide remit for ensuring the safety of PayPal’s employees, customers and assets. He aims to ensure the company has transparency in its processes and is proactive. His work helps PayPal combat money laundering, terrorism, human trafficking and financial crime on its platform.
Chief procurement and supply chain officer
Tom Linton helps run a workforce of 200,000 people at Flex, which designs, engineers and delivers logistical and manufacturing services for its customers.
Mr Linton, who worked for 20 years at IBM, is a specialist in supply chains and procurement and serves as vice-chairman on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Mobility.
He advocates using real-time digital monitoring tools to improve the speed and efficiency of supply chains. His work in creating Pulse centres for Flex has greatly increased the visibility and speed of goods through the supply chain. “Before the availability of these tools, it was like driving on the motorway and trying to monitor and increase your speed using yesterday’s speedometer information,” Mr Linton says. He has also written widely on the theory and practice of supply chain management.
Piet Hein Meeter
Global managing director
In 2014, Piet Hein Meeter took over the leadership of Deloitte Legal, a global law practice within the professional services firm. Its lawyers work closely with the firm’s tax, risk, finance and human resources departments to deliver services to business clients.
In four years, he expanded the business to more than 2,400 legal professionals in 83 countries and invested in new technology to support them. The legal business has also developed its own platform, MyInsight, to communicate with clients and share documents. The technology underpins much of the work its lawyers deliver and new applications, such as contract management tools, are built on top of the platform.
While Mr Meeter believes that clients expect lawyers to be technically proficient, he also recognises the need for more holistic consulting services, and was the driving force behind Deloitte’s Legal Management Consulting for in-house lawyers.
Global alliances leader (tax)
Christopher Price was one of the first City of London lawyers to move from a Magic Circle law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, to a Big Four audit firm in 1998. He later became EY’s youngest partner at the age of 30 after three years in the structured finance division, and led the firm’s capital markets practice.
Mr Price ran EY’s Europe, Middle East, India and Africa financial services tax business through the financial crisis, from 2008 to 2011. During the crisis, he reoriented the business to cater more to the needs of clients and posted strong growth.
In 2015, Mr Price was made global leader for people advisory services, leading more than 10,000 professionals and running a $1.5bn business. He was behind the 2018 acquisition of Riverview Law, the legal services business, and was appointed its new chief executive with a view to extending EY’s integrated legal service offerings.
Dan Reed is the founder and chief executive of UnitedLex, which he has steered into becoming a global business with a workforce of 2,700 that received a $500m investment from CVC Capital Partners in September.
A lawyer by training, Mr Reed started his career at EY. He worked as chief financial officer and general counsel at Adjoined Consulting and has a long record in guiding businesses through initial public offerings. In 2013, Mr Reed was named entrepreneur of the year in the technology and business services category for the US Midwest region by EY.
Mr Reed has expanded UnitedLex by an average 35 per cent year on year since founding it in 2006. Its clients include DXC Technology, which outsourced much of its legal function to UnitedLex. He also set up ULX Partners, which works with law firms to manage their back-office functions more effectively.
Research for profiles by RSG Consulting
Get alerts on Professional services when a new story is published