April 28, 2022
On leaving comfort zones and finding opportunities in times of change   Q: Tell Us About Your Professional Background, Giving An Overview Of Experience As Both External And In-House Counsel. I hold a master’s degree in Business Law, University of Paris II Panthéon – Assas (Paris – France), and a postgraduate degree in Corporate & Tax Law, University of Paris IX Dauphine (Paris – France). I was a member of the Paris and Luxembourg Bars. Prior to joining Nestlé MENA, I worked for nine years as a lawyer at leading law firms and as in-house legal counsel for multinational groups headquartered in Paris and Luxembourg. I have gained considerable experience in advising, both as an external and as an in-house counsel, on all areas of business law with a focus on the legal considerations of mergers, acquisitions, cross-border acquisitions, corporate restructurings and commercial transactions. I am currently the Head of Legal & Compliance of Nestlé for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) market (covering 19 countries). Based in Dubai, I advise on all areas of business law with a focus on commercial, contracts, corporate matters, antitrust, corporate governance and compliance. Q: You Have Built A Career Across Multiple Jurisdictions And Now, As Head Of Legal And Compliance Of Nestlé – Mena Market, You Manage A Practice Area Equally Traversing Borders. What Challenges And Opportunities Have These Experiences Provided You? In-house lawyers, like other functions, are not immune from the human tendency to “do what you know” rather than “do what the job demands.” When I decided to relocate abroad, I was leaving my comfort zone as I would...
March 9, 2022
  Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors are fast making their way into mainstream business and investment consciousness. Far from being the cherry-on-top of an otherwise good company, these criteria are increasingly becoming part and parcel of business practice. Pressure to adopt ESG standards has come from consumers and a growing responsible investment community, as well as the expansion of governmental and regulatory requirements. These standards create the framework for all stakeholders, including lawyers, to assess the sustainability and ethical practices of a company when reporting on such company or in making investment decisions. Indicative of this trend toward increased ESG focus, in late November 2021, the Hang Seng Indexes Company launched a new index in which socially responsible considerations sit up front and center – the HSI ESG Screened Index (HSI ESG). This index applies ESG principles to the standard Hang Seng Index (HSI), with constituents screened for compliance against the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Principles as well as for involvement in controversial product. Focus on ESG criteria has thus come a long way from being about feel-good investment choices; these factors are now regulated and widely tracked. More than this, however, focus on companies adhering to ESG principles may well make financial sense. In comparing the performance of the HSI ESG to the HSI from the base date of the former, 7 December 2018, to present we see that the HSI ESG actually outperforms the market standard – and by a relatively long way. As Mark D. Schroeder, Strategic Advisor to the Governance Solutions Group , put it, ESG frameworks help us assess the impact of...
March 6, 2022
Q: Tell Us A Little About Your Professional Background And How You Came To Be In Your Current Role? I started my career as a lawyer specializing in capital markets, banking and corporate. After 5 years in private practice, I moved in-house, starting in a local pharma company, followed by P&G and Heinz, before joining Unilever Indonesia 6 years ago as the senior legal person. My experience in Unilever includes partnering for the Home Care business in SEAA for about 3 years, before taking on a new responsibility in 2020 as the corporate secretary (Unilever Indonesia is a major publicly listed company in Indonesia). I’m currently the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Unilever Indonesia. Q: How Big Is Your Team And How Is It Structured? Unilever Indonesia is a USD 2.5 billion company. There are 5 senior lawyers that directly report to me and 1 junior lawyer, with agile working principles, supporting the senior lawyers. We also have 1 senior compliance person leading the business integrity agenda. Our legal team may be lean compared to other companies of the same size. The idea for this structure is for the in-house counsel to take more strategic roles, so as to create more value for our business partners. Q: What Are The Biggest Challenges Facing In-House Lawyers Today? The biggest challenge is to integrate more into the business, becoming a risk artisan while still working within the boundaries. This is a real challenge because, as lawyers, we are used to precedents which have trained us to be prepared for the worst-case scenario of certain issues. We also often separate ourselves...
January 25, 2022
Tell us a little about your professional background and how you came to be in your current role? I often ask aspiring lawyers: “What do Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi have in common?” And my typical reply is: “They are world leaders who studied law and changed the world”. More than two decades ago I made the transition from the Bar to the Roll of Solicitors, and from private to in-house. Each chapter of my career was the start of a new learning curve as I navigated my ways in firms like property development, contracting and engineering consultancy. The Egis Group already does well in the Asia Pacific, turning over about €100 million each year with nearly 1000 people across a dozen countries and territories, and the company has a five-year target to increase its potential in the region. Unlike a General Counsel who joins a corporation laterally to fill a pre-existing position, I am the first Egis APAC General Counsel tasked with establishing a set of cultural and operational issues and developing solutions to deal with the unique challenges of managing legal functions in APAC. My other compliance-related responsibilities are as the regional Ethics and Risk Correspondent which draws on the strength of my qualifications as a Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified Enterprise Risk Advisor, Certified Business Continuity Manager and Certified ISO37001 Anti-bribery Lead Implementer. How big is your team and how is it structured? Currently I am the sole qualified person in the regional legal department of Egis Asia Pacific. I am grateful to the Group Legal team members and the management of Egis APAC who are unwavering...
November 3, 2021
Q: Tell us a little about your professional background and how you came to be in your current role? Sometime in 1997, I started as Court Attorney for the Philippine Court of Appeals where I assisted Justices in evaluating and drafting decisions on cases appealed before them. I then had a short stint as department manager at a Government-owned and controlled corporation until I decided to join the Manila Electric Company or Meralco in 1999. Meralco is the largest electric distribution company in the Philippines. I started as a staff lawyer performing litigation work until I was designated to head its Corporate Legal team. During my free time, I also teach in law schools where I impart my knowledge of commercial law. Q: How big is your team and how is it structured? Our Corporate Legal office is composed of 10 lawyers and seven paralegal and administrative staff. Two teams report to me – one handles corporate legal work for Meralco and the other team renders legal services to Meralco’s subsidiaries and affiliates. Q: What are the biggest challenges facing In-House lawyers today? One big challenge in-house lawyers inevitably face is how to balance a duty to promote the company’s business and at the same time ensure it is compliant with rules, which are often perceived as obstacles in meeting goals and targets. The bigger the organization, the more risks are shifted to the in-house counsel and at times, they must make commercial decisions. So, it is for a counsel to understand the business, its goals and targets, as well as strategies. It is also imperative to communicate the...
September 21, 2021
1) Tell us a little about your professional background and how you came to be in your current role? I have more than 20 years of work experience as an in-house counsel and corporate secretary specializing in financial services, Corporate & Securities Laws, Insurance, Banking & NBFC Regulations, IPR Laws, IT Laws, Dispute Resolution, Contract Management and Transaction Advisory. I am working with Financial Services – Aditya Birla Group since June 2008. Starting with Aditya Birla Money as Head- Legal, Compliance and Secretarial and thereafter as Head Legal & Company Secretary with Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance in Feb 2014. In March 2021, I joined as Head Corporate Legal, Company Secretary & Compliance Officer – Aditya Birla Capital Limited. Aditya Birla Capital Limited is the holding company for the financial services businesses of the Aditya Birla Group. Key highlights of my career so far include the hands-on operating experience of multiple lines of business, working on different issues, dealing with regulations, problem solving, implementing best practices and developing the best in-house corporate legal and secretarial teams. 2) How big is your team and how is it structured? Like most in-house teams, it is a midsized corporate compliance and legal team catering to all kinds of regulatory matters and providing transactional advisory support to business. 3) What are the biggest challenges facing in-house lawyers today? The role of in-house lawyers is always challenging. With a plethora of regulations and an ever-changing regulatory landscape, these challenges are only increasing. One must stay fully updated on what is happening at all times and keep abreast of emerging laws to provide sound professional...