Thank you very much for attending our first "GC / CLO Cutting Edge Insights" panel discussion!
We would like to thank our panelists, Ms Mariko Mimura, Mr Larry Bates and Mr Mark Schultz for sharing their extensive experience and insights. We all heard an inspiring and fantastic time, thanks to them.
Thank you to Ms Chisako Takaya and her team at Mori, Hamada & Matsumoto for their support and generosity in providing their beautiful office space.
We kicked off the evening with an opening by Mr Tetsuya Kashio, chairman of the JILA GC/CLO Study Group, and started the panel discussion with Rika Beppu, the moderator, posing the following questions to our three panelists: "Why are you in your current role? What are the expectations of your company's management and how are you responding to such expectations? Did your job specification include (1) a senior management position such as a board member of executive officer? and (2) a specific legal qualification (Japanese law or US law or otherwise)? How long do you see yourself in your current role and how does your succession plan look like?"
Our panelists took turns to respond to the questions posed, where the reasons for their appointments ranged from top-notch (and unmatched industry knowledge in a highly-regulated industry) to globalization of the company's business to a new level which meant that new structures and culture needed to be created in order to drive the global business forward. We heard how the business decision between complete failure of a company as opposed to reviving the business by creating a new corporate group out of a number of different companies can be taken by a forward-looking Japanese CEO and that a cutting-edge business model in Japan does not necessarily translate into success when venturing overseas in new and different business areas. Our panelists ranged from a Japanese lawyer whose prior career included being a partner in a Big 4 Japanese firm, an US lawyer with a long and illustrious career as a senior in-house legal counsel and subsequently GC of the corporate HQ in Japan, and an US lawyer who, after being a partner in an US firm, was GC at a number of publicly-listed US companies.
We learned how the key challenges are how to contribute to the business in a direct and clear-cut way such as attending business meetings with customers (without revealing one's true identity) and empowering colleagues to make certain commercial decisions without always checking in with the legal and compliance function. On the other hand, the rapid globalization of a company means that creating clear-cut reporting lines where the in-house legal counsel and management are aligned in terms of business goals and risk management, sometime means that more checking-in with the legal function is encouraged.
We were pleased to receive encouragement from the panelists in terms of what we can do to become GC/CLO like them. We were encouraged to trust in ourselves, focus and keep on developing our communication skills, and also whilst building up a specialist area, never be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone (a "General Counsel" means one has to be a generalist – know enough about a broad range of areas).
Ms Miki Sakakibara, chairman of the JILA Diversity Study Group, made the closing remarks and we ended the evening with lots of business card exchanges and further discussions.
Again, thank you very much for your participation. We sincerely look forward to seeing you again soon at our next event.
Women in Law Japan Executive Committee / JILA Diversity Study Group and JILA GC / CLO Study Group