The Hot 100 effect: The in-house visionary

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Ahead of the publication of the Hot 100 2017 next week, The Lawyer has caught up with four leading lawyers in the Hot 100 2016 to find out how their lives changed since appearing in the list.

Maaike de Bie was officially appointed to the general counsel role at Royal Mail less than three months after appearing in the Hot 100 2016.

“It was a lovely surprise when I got the phone call, but I didn’t realise just how many people read The Lawyer both online and in the magazine,” she says. “Although I have worked in this country for over 20 years, being recognised in this way by the community is very meaningful.”

Since then, the outspoken general counsel has orchestrated some major changes in Royal Mail’s in-house team to reflect the wider changes at the company.

Maaike De Bie
Maaike de Bie

“What I did with the team was to go back to basics, coming up with a mission and strategic plans,” De Bie says. “I didn’t want this to be a vision that came from the top down but something that was done with the engagement of the entire function.”

She did a complete overhaul of the legal function, which up until that moment had been quite separated into their specialisms. “I looked at our legal portfolio and created four big groups,” she explains. “Rather than one deputy general counsel, I decided to have four assistant general counsel.”

These four big groups, which report into their respective assistant general counsel, are split into the commercial transactions team: wholesale, retail, procurement and international deals – the team that runs the day to day of the company; M&A and tech, focused on the main strategic transactions; workforce and employment, which at the moment is dealing with the company’s pensions review; and litigation and regulation, which handles most claims internally and works with regulators.

De Bie also performed an audit on the amount of work that the in-house team at Royal Mail was outsourcing. “I realised we should bring resources in-house,” she explains, but there were fewer resources at a junior level to focus on the work. She has since outlined a plan to increase the number of junior members in the in-house team, prompting future recruitment in the business’ base in Sheffield. “We are hiring 15 junior lawyers there,” she confirms.

De Bie has effectively leveraged her heightened profile in the community and her status at a FTSE 100 lawyer to act as a role model for female lawyers. “What is lovely is that it’s about engaging that community and celebrating success. I am in the position of being a role model in this community, and I feel strongly about supporting and promoting that.

Her advice for those in the list this year is simple. “Enjoy the attention and congratulations, but also use that opportunity to connect with others in the Hot 100. Take some time out of your busy day to day job, it’s worth it.”

Hot 100 2016: Maaike de Bie, Royal Mail

Acting general counsel Maaike de Bie joined the Royal Mail as deputy general counsel in 2014 to aid its transition from a public sector organisation to a FTSE 100 company.

Since then she has focused on making the legal function up to the task, transforming it from a contract implementation-focused team to one that behaves like a business partner. De Bie cites this transformation as her proudest achievement.

She’s also expanded its panel, again making it fit for purpose for a FTSE 100 organisation. For an organisation that tackles everything from the grievances of dog-bitten postmen to taking on the Competition and Markets Authority, getting this right is crucial.

De Bie has spent most of her career in-house, spending time at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, GE and Ernst & Young.

Read the entire Hot 100 2016 here and watch out for the Hot 100 2017, published on 30 January.

The post The Hot 100 effect: The in-house visionary appeared first on The Lawyer | Legal News and Jobs | Advancing the business of law.

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