What does being Group General Counsel for Todd Corporation involve and what does a standard day look like for you?
Todd Corporation has a diverse range of assets, geographies and industries. These include upstream energy to retail electricity, telecommunications, wholesale gas, solar energy, electricity generation, infrastructure, technology, property and private equity. Jurisdictions include NZ, Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. We have lawyers dotted around the globe, and there is no such thing as a standard day. As a 150 year old (plus) family-owned business, there are some wonderful generational aspects to the way we do business. One thing that has been consistent in the Todd story through the years, is recognising market trends and seeking to partner with the best offshore experience in a NZ context. I am lucky to have a great General Counsel in each of the main operating divisions. My job is to make sure that the barriers to them doing their job are minimised.
How does your Governance work influence your legal perspective and vice versa?
Being a director of external entities myself gives me a great insight into the challenges faced by the Todd Board. Papers and meetings can always be clearer, more strategic and more focused on the issues of the day. The challenge of avoiding a compliance/mundane approach to satisfying board and director obligations is constant. I can’t recall a working environment involving more change or more challenge. The role of the Board is evolving rapidly and directors and management need to partner in this evolution. On the flip side, the executive role gives me a lot more empathy when I am attending external board meetings. The Co Sec role is a challenging one and rarely does it attract the appreciation it deserves 😉
What challenges do you and your team face that keep you awake at night and how are you addressing these?
The only thing keeping me awake at night is the ageing cat which scratches at the door at increasingly random hours of the night. It doesn’t much like the new dog so the house-hold karma is currently uneasy.
Ultimately one shouldn’t worry about things you can’t control. Challenges can be predictable or they can come out of left field – either way if you have the process in place, understand what you need to do in a crisis (which is not so different to a non-crisis) then things will work out ok.
What are some of the trends that you're seeing and how do you see the in-house legal profession evolving?
Clearly regulatory change in most industries is a clear theme. As a member of the FMA Board, I am particularly aware of the strain on the industry of continuous regulatory change. Frankly the current trajectory isn’t sustainable for regulated and regulator alike. However there is important client conduct work to be completed and we all need to put the shoulder to the wheel in this respect. As far as private practice and in-house is concerned I think the more things change, the more they stay the same. Ultimately the ability to do your job as in-house counsel is based on your support network – your team and your wider external team. Communication, care and partnership are needed to get the job done – whichever seat you are in.