Sarah Graydon

In The Spotlight: Sarah Graydon

Sarah Graydon, a Wellington based Juno Lawyer, reflects on her recent engagement at EQC. "I have always thought that in-house lawyers do a lot more than provide legal advice, so this was a good chance to test that theory."

You’ve recently completed an engagement at EQC. Can you tell us about this role and what a standard day looked like for you?

I joined EQC to assist the Chief Strategy Officer – Tina Mitchell, who was building a new team including policy, government relations, communications, strategy, legal and board support. Some of my main pieces of work were the Briefing for the Incoming Minister (Earthquake-Commission-BIM-2020.pdf (eqc.govt.nz)), organising business planning and drafting a new Statement of Performance Expectations and Statement of Intent.

This role was “out of your comfort zone”. How did this role differ from previous engagements and what did it teach you about yourself?

I have had a great variety of Juno engagements – with quite different clients and including consulting and coaching work as well as providing legal support. But this role was the first time that I was not working primarily with the legal team. I have always thought that in-house lawyers do a lot more than provide legal advice, so this was a good chance to test that theory. 

I also hoped it would build on some of the broader skills that I am developing through some of my governance roles. The fact that I was working with Tina (a former colleague) was a big drawcard and gave me confidence that it would work well. I did find myself occasionally missing the familiarity of looking at things from a legal perspective, but overall I really enjoyed the change.

What was the biggest challenge in that role and how did you tackle that? 

The biggest challenge was getting to know and understand EQC quickly. If you are writing a draft briefing, you need to have a good handle on what is going on! But that was also really great as it meant right at the outset I was given a lot of information about what was happening across EQC and its strategic direction. There was a lot going on when I was there – proposed changes to the EQC Act, the launch of a new model for responding to claims and the implementation of recommendations from the public inquiry. It was made a lot easier by the fact that people were really helpful, approachable and happy to help me understand things.

I was also a little concerned that working at EQC might feed my existing concerns about living in a tsunami evacuation zone! As it turned out, finding out more about the work that the Resilience Team at EQC does around our understanding of natural hazards, was fascinating. It is certainly the first time that I have worked with a volcanologist.

What do you feel contributes to a great engagement?

I always appreciate being treated as one of the team – which I totally was at EQC.

Having interesting work is obviously good – and EQC is very much one of those places that had so much more going on than I would have ever realised before working there. 

Being given the flexibility as to how you work is also great - EQC was really well set up for remote working and supportive of working from home a day or two a week.