Pictured (L-R): Rob Akroyd, Jacqui Cormack, Grant Fraser and Kay Parker
Tell us about the legal team at Mitre 10 and anything that may vary from other in-house teams?
We like to think we are a bit unusual here at Mitre 10 because our legal team is part of a broader cross functional team including property, product compliance, sustainability and business services which gives us an immediate insight into the broader business of the Cooperative. What also should never be understated is that we are part of a Support Centre which is genuinely not the same as a corporate head office. Our stakeholders are the Cooperative Members who own and run our stores across New Zealand. We are accountable to them for supporting the business, delivering economies of scale, building capability, managing risk and safeguarding shareholder value.
The legal function itself is pretty compact with 3 lawyers and a part time legal executive. What we are sure does not differ from other in-house lawyers is that we all thrive on variety and need to be comfortable that days don’t necessarily proceed as originally planned. That dynamic makes every day interesting and of course the job is never done.
In-house legal are known to 'put out fires before they begin'. How does an in-house team mitigate and foresee risk before it arises?
One word: relationships. We are extremely mindful that in order to manage risk we need to know about any issues or problems as soon as possible and preferably before they catalyse. That can only happen if our business understanding is broad and people are comfortable approaching us with their concerns.
It is a big part of how we work that we are always actively building our relationships with colleagues across the organisation so that we learn from them and in turn we are capability training so people can solve their own issues before they come to pass.
Tell us a bit about your team values and how you try and bring those to life?
The Covid years had the silver lining of fast-tracking flexible work all over the world, including in workplaces which may have been slow adopters otherwise. The benefits of this are amazing but it is also critical to make sure that we are still coming together as a team and as a business to stay connected, build trust, share information and perform effectively.
Our jobs are quite demanding and enjoying the environment we are in is essential. Whether it’s trying to make sure we have days in the office in common, team dumpling lunches, calling instead of emailing, grabbing a coffee or sharing a laugh – it's all part of trying to make sure we are supporting each other and excited to come to work (whether from home or the office).
What other key initiatives do the next 12 months have in store?
Like a lot of the world, we are very excited (and a tiny bit nervous) to see what the world of AI may mean, both for ourselves and in general. As a broader business, we are already using AI and are mindful of the opportunities it presents as well as the guidance needed to make sure it is used appropriately. As part of that, we are exploring an AI pilot scheme where we hope to test and learn all the various efficiencies and possibilities of AI to enhance what we do – whether by delivering value faster, better or more broadly. The importance of a test and learn approach in a controlled environment is really important but the possibilities are wide open, and we want to be at the forefront of that performance revolution.
If we are being very literal about the question, our store network is also growing with a new Mitre 10 MEGA store opening recently in Silverdale where some exciting new digital experiences and design features are being tested. We are looking forward to working with our marketing and operations teams to understand what resonates with our customers and rolling out similar initiatives across our network.