GC Powerlist Nordics
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GC Powerlist > GC Powerlist: Nordics
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For 28 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: Nordics, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house teams working in the Nordics region....read more
We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across the Nordics region, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each jurisdictional list. GC Powerlist: Nordics features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from the law firms about how they feel individual corporate counsel have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: Nordics, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in the Nordics region or global), please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
GC Powerlist: NORDICS
(listed in alphabetical order; click on a team to view an expanded biography)
Chief legal officer
Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA
Martin Allan Christensen
Chief legal counsel & group legal, head of M&A section
A.P Møller - Mærsk A/S
TDC Sverige AB
General counsel (Investments)
Första AP-fonden, First Swedish National Pension Fund (AP1)
Senior legal counsel
Nordea Bank Finland
Head of legal and regulatory
Susanne Berens Olsson
Göteborg Energi AB
General counsel and head of market surveillance
Nord Pool Spot A/S
Gdf Suez E&P Norge A/S
Charlotte Bigum Lynaes
Chief legal counsel
Danish Agriculture & Food Council
Chief legal officer and general counsel
General counsel & group vice president
Grundfos Holding A/S
Frode Brogren Lid
JM Norge AS
Christine Bruhn Tuxen
Head of legal services Nordics- legal, risk & compliance
DT Group A/S
Anders Bryde Rasmussen
Head of legal
Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB)
Anna Bülow Zetterberg
Novamedia Sverige AB
Director of legal affairs
Elo Mutual Pension Insurance Company
Åsa Ericson Hedström
Vice president legal and compliance
Sony Mobile Communications AB
Lena Ernlund Malmberg
Head of intellectual property – legal
Senior manager, head of legal and compliance (EMEA)
Sony Mobile Communications AB
Caroline Fellenius Omndell
Group general counsel
Christian Fleischer Christiansen
Head of legal Denmark, China & Hong Kong - Marine & Diesel Division
Alfa Laval Aalborg A/S
General counsel (Norway & Denmark)
Nils Arne Grønlie
Head of legal
Bankernes EDB Central (BEC)
Chief legal counsel
Signe Hastrup Holst
Metroselskabet og Hovedstadens Letbane
General counsel (region Europe North and East)
Senior vice president and general counsel
Volvo Car Corporation
Henrik Hilseth Hartwig
Corporate legal counsel
Chief officer legal and corporate functions
Cermaq Group AS
General counsel, law & administration
Head of legal - consumer international, global legal services
Arla Foods amba
Head of legal (Nordic & Baltic)
General counsel and head of the legal department
Skånemejerier and Lactalis Group
Senior vice president and corporate & institutions - legal
Danske Bank A/S
Director and general counsel
Rasmus Kirkeby Salling
Finance & control legal affairs and senior intellectual property counsel
Senior vice president and general counsel
Volvo Group Trucks Operations
Sari Koivulehto Mäkitalo
Vice president (legal affairs)
Mette Kondrup Jensen
Vice president, corporate people & organisation and people relations & compliance
Novo Nordisk A/S
Chief legal officer regulatory approvals and environment
Head of legal and intellectual property rights
Oy Teboil Ab
Vice president director (tax and legal)
Marine Harvest ASA
Floatel International Ltd
Åse Lundh Gravenius
ICE Services AB
Senior vice president, chief legal officer, head of group function legal affairs and secretary to the board of directors
Senior legal counsel, manager (legal affairs)
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Chief legal counsel
Electromagnetic GeoServices ASA (EMGS)
Carnegie Investment Bank AB
Senior vice president (legal and compliance) and general counsel
Höegh LNG AS
Höegh Autoliners AS
Jurist/ legal adviser & compliance officer
Konica Minolta Business Solutions Denmark A/S
CEO and lawyer
Rune Olav Pedersen
Senior vice president (communications and marketing) and general counsel
General Counsel, head of compliance and company secretary
Director legal affairs
Senior vice president (corporate affairs and legal) and group general counsel
Resurs Bank AB
Group general counsel
Royal Unibrew A/S
Group general counsel
General counsel & head of corporate affairs
VKR Holding A/S
Project director- Area & Rights
Odense Letbane P/S│Odense Tramway
Senior legal counsel
Danske Commodities A/S
Jarle Roar Saebø
Country counsel (Norway and Denmark)
Hewlett-Packard Norge A/S
General counsel and director legal and sustainability
Head of legal & public affairs
Modern Times Group (MTG)
Director HR & legal
Danske Statsbaner (DSB)
Yngve Rygh Larsen
Assistant general counsel
Chief legal officer
Head of legal (infrastructure projects and paving)
Peter- Schøtt Knudsen
Vice president, general counsel and global head of legal & intellectual property rights
ECCO Holding A/S
VR Group Oy
Astrid Skjønborg Brunt
Tine Skytte Holm
Legal & business affairs manager
Sony Music Entertainment Denmark A/S
NCC Construction Sverige AB
Head of Legal, Sweden
Modern Times Group MTG AB
General legal counsel
One Nordic AB
Vice president - legal and group sourcing
Bjørn Terje Smistad
Head of legal
Peab Projektutveckling AB
Executive vice president and general counsel
Sandvik AB Holding
Vice President, Corporate Legal, Secretary to Board of Directors & Nokia Group Leadership Team
Deputy legal director
Senior legal counsel
Nordea Bank Finland
General counsel, head of legal affairs and member of the corporate management committee
Senior vice president, administration and legal affairs
Vice president & general counsel
CONTI Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG
Svend Ulrik Riis
Executive vice president and general counsel
Senior legal counsel
If P&C Insurance Company
Head of legal & external affairs
British American Tobacco
ASSA ABLOY AB
"Husqvarna AB "
Christian Wang Schumacher
SAS Norge A/S
Area counsel (Middle East & Asia)
"Senior vice president, corporate counsel & compliance officer "
During his time at the company Morten Aaserud has demonstrated true value to Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA, a global maritime industry group focusing on shipping and logistics for cars and rolling cargo. Since taking on his current role he has reorganised the legal department, restructured the group legal function, changed silo working methods within both the legal department and entities outside the holding company, and improved the availability of his lawyers. His achievements have not just been operational, he has also demonstrated excellent technical legal advice: ‘I have been involved in a lot of projects, but I think to win a big PPP (Public Private Partnership) contract with Aon and to be a part of the merger and restructuring of Aker Solutions are two good examples’. As well as his legal role, he has also been promoted to more commercial positions. He was a board member of Aon Grieg and executive director of Marine & Energy, during previous employment. Additionally, he was a board member of Norwegian Insurance Lawyers Association from 2006 until May 2015, and is company secretary for Wilhelmsen Group’s two stock listed companies namely Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA and Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA. These additional roles are testament to Aaserud’s business-minded approach to legal advice, demonstrating sound commerciality and wider business understanding. For this reason, when working with external counsel Aaserud looks for ‘a business oriented mind-set’, and looks for them to ‘improve their contribution to commercial, strategic and corporate questions’.
‘Being able to play a key part in the execution of the Maersk Group's M&A strategy has been, and still is, a fantastic journey’, voices Martin Allan Christensen, chief legal counsel at A.P Møller-Mærsk. Allan Christensen began his career working for a leading Danish law firm, followed by a role as a teaching assistant before moving in-house in 2013 at the world’s largest shipping company, A.P. Moller-Maersk. Here Allan Christensen has a great level of responsibility handling strategic investments and M&A activity. He started his role as an M&A legal counsel and has since been promoted for his efforts, first to senior legal counsel and now to chief legal counsel. Allan Christensen has successfully made a mark for himself in the in-house sector, with individuals praising him for ‘displaying a unique talent that is rare to come about. He possesses a high degree of business acumen while at the same time understanding the complex legal issues that need to be taken into account’. His ability to balance the implementation of transactions while ensuring acceptable terms and his understanding of complex legal issues make him stand apart from other M&A counsels. He enjoys ‘the opportunity to work worldwide on a variety of existing transactions’.
Lena Almefelt joined EQT, a private equity and venture capital firm, after 12 years as a partner at Vinge. Establishing the legal department at EQT, Almefelt also created a panel system with over 30 external law firms across the globe to support the company. Since Almefelt joined EQT, the private equity sector has seen a surge in regulation. She has been instrumental in obtaining licenses and ensuring the company adheres to compliance under the new regulations including three EU directives, in three different jurisdictions. Despite the regulations, Almefelt’s approach has ensured the legal department does not impinge on the entrepreneurial culture of the company.
At telecommunication provider, TDC Sverige AB, Niclas Almgren has ‘a special skill in applying legal matters into a business context and making legal issues more understandable for non-lawyers’. He has been instrumental in negotiating a new four year mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement with the Swedish telecom incumbent, TeliaSonera. He has negotiated several successful M&A cases as well as settlement agreements with TeliaSonera and Tele2 regarding a complex and complicated telecom regulatory issue. Almgren also assisted a Swedish public authority, Trafikverket, in a successful public procurement appeal process. Under his guidance, the legal department has become more involved in the business and its processes, as it is now involved in negotiations at an early stage. The team has influence over the processes of amending the terms and conditions in standard agreements for new technical services and innovations. Almgren also sits as a member of the executive management team of the company, where he is able to demonstrate his strategic and commercial thinking.
After a successful career as a corporate lawyer on Wall Street, at firms including Davis Polk and Goldman Sachs, Indian-American Meenakshi Ambardar (Meena) moved to Stockholm in 2004. Ambardar spent her first few years in Sweden at home with her young children acclimating to her third country. In 2007, Ambardar demonstrated adaptability and ingenuity in creating an English-language job as the first in-house lawyer at EQT, a well-known European private equity fund based in Stockholm. In 2013, Ambardar joined Första AP-fonden (AP1), one of Sweden's national pension funds, by then having become business-fluent in Swedish. As general counsel (investments), Ambardar covers M&A transactions, alternative investments (hedge, real estate, PE funds) and managed accounts. One of the more important transactions she has worked on was the EUR 6.6 billion acquisition of Fortum’s electricity distribution business in Sweden. The transaction, in which AP1 was part of an investor consortium, is one of the Nordic region’s largest M&A transactions in terms of monetary value. In addition to Nordic transactions, Ambardar also advises on a wide range of global projects, working closely with management and the business professionals of AP1. As part of the investment unit, Ambardar integrated legal review into the investment transaction process, procured an international legal panel and improved the standards and awareness of legal counsel work. The extra support that she provides gives additional comfort to AP1 in its investment opportunity review and decision process as well as execution capability on a first-class, international level. To advise sovereign wealth fund investors like AP1 effectively, Ambardar believes that counsel need a deep knowledge of public sector investor sensitivities, for example, the importance of environmental, social and governance considerations. Ambardar is able to use her international background to provide this advice for AP1, and, where necessary, bring in outside counsel that she has educated on AP1’s particular needs. Ambardar believes that for outside counsel, putting legal issues in the appropriate context and in a language the client understands is critical. She says ‘similar to other large global investors, counsel should keep in mind that AP1 needs guidance to understand why a particular legal issue is important and why it matters’. Ambardar continues by saying that ‘taking the time to know, understand and meet your client on-site is essential to providing pragmatic, thoughtful advice’.
Danske Erhvervsskoler is a member organisation offering political, economic, administrative and legal advice to the daily management and the board of directors of varying Danish vocational and technical schools. As the chief consultant at Danske Erhvervsskoler, Thomas Ankersen, has three employees reporting into him and together they counsel 64 Danish vocational and technical schools. Advice to member organisations is provided through collaboration with external stakeholders, including the Danish Ministry of Education, increasing the complexity of navigating the legal domain of Danske Erhvervsskoler. Ankersen recently assisted in the merger with another educational member organisation that resulted in establishing a legal counselling area in the new organisational structure, further evidencing the dynamic nature of Ankersen’s role as chief consultant. In 2013 he headed a new agreement which instigated radical changes to benefit the working hours of the teachers involved in his member schools. His efforts have made a significant impact in education quality by improving the work environment for the teachers. In addition to pioneering agreements in the educational sector, Ankersen and his team successfully balance and bridge negotiations and demands from schools, law firms, ministries, private enterprises and varying other stakeholders. ‘When you operate in this stakeholder environment, and when you understand that Danske Erhvervsskoler’s legal counselling must co-operate with the fields of politics, administration and economy, the obligations and importance of legal counselling become obvious’. Nominators pinpoint and credit, his dedication to the sector, specialised knowledge of education legislation and ‘flair for communication and cooperation with the various partners of the organisation’ as truly outstanding.
Oskar Arndt is a ‘creative’ lawyer that ‘maintains a high level of integrity and quality’ in his work for iZettle, an emerging payment services provider. After five years at Bird & Bird, Arndt joined iZettle in 2013 setting up a legal department of two located in Stockholm and Sao Paulo, as well as modifying how the company manages its legal and business affairs, including its due process guidance, contract and risk management. This has reduced iZettle’s costly over-reliance on outside counsel by bringing essential work in-house. To demonstrate the strength of the team, Arndt successfully managed a Series C financing process from start to close with very little use of external counsel. Like many other lawyers, Arndt feels external law firms should spend more time understanding the business of their clients in order ‘to deliver relevant and useful advice’.
Described as ‘practical’ and a ‘problem solver’, Mikko Aulas has worked at Nordea Bank since October 2000. During his employment at Nordea, Aulas assumed the role of legal counsel on shipping, oil and syndicate loans for the company’s Norwegian and Finnish subsidiaries. He has worked on large scale deals for the Nordic based bank, creating successful new structures for financing and has also been active in developing standard document templates to speed up response times in the legal department. To reflect his work, in June 2010, Aulas was promoted to senior legal counsel. Like so many other in-house teams, one of the biggest challenges he faces is the ‘recent regulation flood being experienced in banking at the moment’. Commenting on law firms, Aulas says ‘we would appreciate the law firm to analyse the issues and suggest a preferable solution. The bank will of course have to make the decisions, but that will be easier with the recommendations and interpretations’.
In an extremely fast moving market, Stefan Backman thrives on the challenges associated with providing legal services to one of Europe´s fastest growing Telecom operators, Tele2. He says ‘as an in-house lawyer in a small department within such an organisation, you really need to be able to move fast and make quick decisions, while at the same time mitigating legal risks’. Finding the right balance has meant Backman and his team are now natural business partners to the whole organisation, as he explains ‘you also need to be an enabler and a business partner’. Pioneering within the company, Backman has been involved in several M&A activities of great strategic importance to Tele2, including setting up major mobile network sharing joint ventures with competitors. Achieving cost efficiency without increasing external spend is one of Backman’s greatest achievements. ‘Tele2 Sweden now runs one of the most cost efficient in-house legal departments within the telecommunications sector in Europe’ he says. He achieved this ‘by implementing smooth internal processes and by working very close to the business’. As a result he has qualified for industry recognitions for cost streamlining, and despite constantly scaling down the manpower in the group, Backman’s excellent management qualities are recognised by his department in the company’s annual survey. On a personal level, Backman was awarded “Swedish In-house lawyer of the year” in 2014 by his peers and Affärsvärlden, a Swedish newspaper. He received the prize in part because he is very vocal in Swedish public debate regarding integrity related issues such as data retention regulations, having featured on national TV and newspapers. ‘This is perhaps not the classic role of a lawyer and I was therefore awarded the prize as a "role model" for other in-house lawyers’.
By setting up the legal department, Susanne Berens Olsson has moved Göteborg Energi AB away from handling legal matters through a decentralised method of using external law firms, at high cost, to internalising as many matters as possible. Together with her team, Berens Olsson established a structure for knowledge management and created a legal strategy for performing work that is proactive, adds business-value and is cost efficient both in-house and when working with external law firms. The department is now welcomed by the company as an early partner at the start of all business negotiations, projects and high value transactions. Western Sweden’s leading energy company, Göteborg Energi AB, has been through a significant transformation during the last couple of years and the legal department has played a key role in the process. The work has included the divestment of several companies and other assets, mergers between subsidiaries, reorganisation of labour and the companies within the group, outsourcing IT operations and forming a new strategy for company governance. In her career, Berens Olsson has been committed to ensuring the legal department is a strong contributor to the group, reaching its targets from both a legal and financial perspective. ‘The legal department’s role is to use law in order to achieve company’s goals and minimising the risks along the way’.
Camilla Berg has been general counsel at Nord Pool Spot A/S since 2009, being responsible for all legal matters, regulatory compliance and overseeing the market surveillance department, which focuses on the prohibition of insider trading, disclosure requirements and market manipulation, to ensure that market traders are operating within European Law. Berg was governance working group leader within the PCR (Price Coupling of Regions) project from May 2011 until August 2012, which ended with signing of the PCR agreements between the main European Power Exchanges. PCR is used to develop a single solution to calculate electricity prices across Europe and allocate cross-border capacity on a day-ahead basis. In addition, she has been ‘a member of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) Ad Hoc Expert Group on REMIT implementation measures since June 2012. The group consists of 12 experts from Europe who deliver expert advice on the specific questions requested by ACER on wholesale energy market integrity and transparency issues’. Her efforts in external roles mean that she is up to date with market changes, allowing her to deliver even more value to her department and company.
Kjersti Bergsåker-Aspøy has been general counsel at GDF Suez E&P Norge A/S for four years. In that time she has focused on increasing the formal visibility of the legal department within the company. ‘I have initiated and carried out a process whereby legal has been implemented as a more visible and compulsory part of the business processes described in the management system of the company’. The main goal is to develop and strengthen the legal department’s knowledge of core business: ‘if we outsource entire cases related to our core business, a lot of knowledge development is lost. I believe that building knowledge in-house is key’. Bergsåker-Aspøy has put a lot of emphasis on developing the legal department as an educator within the company as well. ‘I believe that the educator role is important and should be part of the legal department in any company. The legal department should not only be seen as support, but fully integrated in all projects which involves legal aspects, and the lawyer should be involved from the start, side by side with the economist, the technical personnel and so forth’. Furthermore, she has introduced and conducted a legal training day, involving subjects of interest to the different departments (such as basic contract law for non-lawyers, the regulatory framework and the role of the operator of an oil field). ‘The training days have been very popular, and have increased the collaboration between legal and our other departments’.
The third largest trade association in Denmark is the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, which has an estimated annual export of products amounting to DKK 151 billion. The approximately 350 employees at the Council have various backgrounds ranging from agronomics to economics. Up until early 2015 the legal department was “tolerated” under the General Business Department. Charlotte Bigum Lynaes, now chief legal counsel, changed this layout by reporting legal matters directly to the CEO and representing the legal department on the group of directors. During her four years with the Council she has ‘turned the legal supporting function into a more dynamic, powerful and visible business entity, offering not only legal advice but a more overall guidance on how legal initiatives can impact the political agenda’. Bigum Lynaes is classed as an ‘extremely skilled lawyer’ as she handles ‘the difficult spinning field between member-political aspects and the Danish Parliament's political regulation of the interests of the Agriculture & Food Council members’. In her role she has been a key player in several successes. Among these was the rejection of 23 water basin plans issued by the state without attention to procedural rules. Her ability to find quick solutions to political agreements that have entered without regard to the legal impact is commendable. ‘I find great pleasure in coming up with solutions that tie these loose ends together’.
Since moving from law firm Vinge in 2010, Per Brandt has accommodated the business element of being a general counsel into his skillset and enjoys being a part of the decision-making team ‘outside and above the legal matters’. Brandt has integrated legal processes into the business and now sits as a member of the company’s executive team. This has shifted perceptions in the company from viewing legal work as an obstacle to a commercial strength. More recently, Brandt has successfully managed a major litigation that impacted the entire SPP Group, a provider of savings and retirement solutions. Brandt also oversaw a substantial merger between two major insurance companies and the increasing number ‘of directives and other regulations’ on financial services that have recently been introduced.
Having started his career at Bech-Bruun, the Danish firm, Andreas Brandt decided to move in-house in 2009, first to Dong Energy and thereafter to Grundfos where he is using his, ‘wide-range of skills within the legal sphere’ to deal with M&A and risk management. Brandt introduced a middle man to the ladder of the legal department in order to remove the bottle-neck effect and has helped risk management take a step up. One source opines that Brandt ‘is an extremely capable and commercial-oriented lawyer’, something that is recognised by Grundfos, which resulted in his rapid promotion upon joining. His capability to integrate commercial needs while adhering to legal regulations with the same level of importance is estimable. Brandt states that ‘being a GC, it is an efficiency thing, asking yourself can you provide that extra value to transform your business for the better?’ He is clearly on the right path to transforming the legal environment at Grundfos by constantly piecing together, what he calls the “triangle”; ‘the technical understanding of what the company does, the commercial understanding for the business aspects and third the legal understanding’. He claims that one of his biggest achievements has been to get to where he is now. ‘I don’t want to single out any as they are all achievements big and small and it has to lead to where I am now, and now I am happy to go to work everyday’.
JM Norge AS is experienced in supplying houses and apartments across the Nordics. JM Norge’s total turnover in the region is approximately SEK 13 billion and approximately 100,000 homes have been designed and built since 1998. Prior to Frode Brogren Lid’s recruitment in 2011, JM Norge did not have any in-house lawyers. ‘I have established routines related to JM’s business, in particular acquisition of land (contracts) and sales’. Brogren Lid is the only in-house lawyer in the company and has to deal with all legal matters concerning contracts and sales. He ‘enjoys working closely to the projects - from land acquisition via developments to sales’. He is a member of the management team for JM, and therefore takes part in strategic decisions concerning the business.
Håkan Broman was promoted to general counsel in January 2009 at NCC, a leading property development company in the Nordic Region with annual sales of SEK 57 billion. Heading a team of 50, Broman has been instrumental in transforming the legal department into a business supporting function, overcoming the internal challenge of changing mind-sets. Demonstrating the ability to be innovative, Broman achieved this partly by having a methodical recruiting approach and by finding the right business-related KPI to measure individual performance. The changes have had a positive knock-on effect; the department has been able to increase the business performance of the group and its share price. As Broman says ‘there is a clear correlation between our department and the increase in business’.
Regardless of her relatively new appointment, initially as legal, risk and compliance officer at DT Group, Christine Bruhn Tuxen has hit the ground running. She has made pivotal changes to the legal department embedding an electronic legal case management system on a Salesforce platform (Riskonnect), which allows for the management and cost control of all cases across the Nordics and a function which allows automatic reporting to the parent company. She founded the Nordic legal services in Finland and Sweden, ‘establishing a risk management culture across the Nordic Business units’ with the DT general counsel, ‘using modern technology to communicate complex matters in a creative way’. She also assisted the general counsel in the formation of the Dawn Raid app which allows information to be processed across a wider international group in a more time efficient manner. ‘The dawn raid app allows senior management and internal lawyers to concentrate on meeting and managing the authorities on the premises without delay’. Her efforts have been rewarded by her recent promotion to head of legal as of the 1st of August 2015. Prior to the DT Group, Bruhn Tuxen was employed with Scandinavian Airlines where her biggest achievement was to devise and implement a Nordic marketing compliance program while dealing with strategically important wet lease contacts for the Airline. Bruhn Tuxen’s ability to take on a new project and make many new improvements that assist in efficiency can be accredited to her personal goals. ‘I feel that I have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only set my own legal services team but to also influence and create how the legal team function’. One nominator believes that Bruhn Tuxen stands out due to her ‘clear form of communication and proactive strategic and legal decisions’. For her modernisation of legal departments through the use of technology, Bruhn Tuxen can be said to be bringing a new dimension to in-house legal efficiency.
Anders Bryde Rasmussen, head of legal at SEB, is described as ‘a bright lawyer and an excellent and ambitious head of his team’. He has a wealth of legal experience tied in with a strong theoretical foundation of banking and capital markets. Bryde Rasmussen has played an integral role in transforming the legal department into ‘an internal legal consultancy unit’, which ensures that the department retains a thorough understanding of the needs of external customers and internal “clients”. ‘Keeping track with a regulatory environment that moves faster than anything we have seen before, while not losing sight of the commercial goals and the needs of our customers’ is the biggest trial for Bryde Rasmussen in his role. But this is what he enjoys the most, ‘that no two days are alike! This also requires great overview and the ability to fast find solutions to problems you did not know existed 10 minutes earlier’. According to nominators, Bryde Rasmussen is ‘the perfect role model, not only for his team but also for other managers’.
Anna Bülow Zetterberg joined Novamedia Sverige AB in September 2012 having worked as an associate at law firms, Cederquist and Lindahl. Whilst at Lindalh, Bülow Zetterberg got a taste of in-house work when being seconded to Svenska Spel as legal counsel for one year. With specialties in media & marketing law, gaming law and IP, Bülow Zetterberg now enjoys handling the diverse legal matters that arise in a fast-changing gaming and entertainment industry. At Novamedia, Bülow Zetterberg set up the legal department from scratch. The policies and procedures she introduced have developed the department’s expertise whilst reducing the company’s reliance on outside counsel. Using a combination of her legal and commercial skills, Bülow Zetterberg enjoys working closely with experts specialised in non-legal fields. As she has the ability to go beyond the legal matter and follow it through the business, the legal department is now perceived as an integral element in the business and its operation. Bülow Zetterberg has also developed and implemented Novamedia’s Agreement policy. This lays out procedures and instructions for management to follow when the company enters into a business agreement, as well as identifying what to observe during its term and after its termination; ‘the process is so much more than just entering into an agreement and signing a document’.
In the 10 years Rolf Busch has been general counsel, he has seen the legal department grow from a small Norway-based team to a well-established international department in Statkraft’s offices around the world. He held the role as lead counsel for a EUR 4.5 billion transaction between Statkraft and E.ON, which was transformational for Statkraft: ‘I was heading a team of internal and external lawyers in a rather complicated transaction, which was asset based and covered five different jurisdictions’. The complexity of this transaction was a challenge,but also rewarding. Busch has built his legal team in line with Statkraft’s strong growth over the last 10 years, ensuring that the legal needs of his business peers can be catered for. Part of this has been to organise the lawyers by their key competences and experiences, utilising their skills for the company in the best possible way.
Harri Christensen heads a team of six at Elo, a major employment pension insurance company in Finland. Working on a wide variety of legal issues, one of Christensen’s biggest achievements has been participating in the legal process of the merger between Mutual Insurance Company Pension Fennia and LähiTapiola Mutual Pension Insurance Company that took 16 months and resulted in the creation of Elo. Christensen is committed to providing colleagues in the legal team ‘the capabilities and working structure to allow the department to function independently, with a high work ethic and expertise in the relevant legal areas required’. He also believes that law firms should be more proactive in finding solutions to unusual or out of the ordinary legal questions.
With an impressive career spanning multiple sectors Anne Diness, attorney general counsel at DEIF, brings a multidimensional and global understanding for strategy and legal requirements. Diness began her career at A.P. Møller-Mærsk, the biggest shipping company in the world, and thereafter moved to work in one of Denmark’s leading law firms, Gorrissen Federspiel. Having joined DEIF in 2014 to revisit her in-house career, she reshaped the legal on-goings of the organisation from solely depending on external legal counsel to a more in-house approach. Diness’ global knowledge suits her role as she manages 11 of the DEIF subsidiaries across the globe with the hope of incorporating more subsidiaries in the near future. One lawyer at a leading Danish firm praises Diness for her ‘global mind-set, gained from having worked and lived abroad, which is very well reflected in her dialogue with internal and external stakeholders’. They go on to tribute Diness’ experience in the shipping industry which has provided her with skills that are rare to find in a lawyer. A deep rooted knowing of ‘the ins and outs of the entire organisation’, allows Diness to extract her ‘legal expertise to be used as a tool in achieving [the company’s] overall strategy rather than as an obstacle to the commercial adventures desired by senior management’.
The Onvest Group, together with its subsidiaries, cover technical trade, building services contracting, investment, and property businesses. Hanna Ekdahl joined the Group in 2012 having previously worked at the Finnish retailing cooperative giant Suomen Osuuskauppojen Keskuskunta between 2010 and 2012 and as a senior associate at Castrén & Snellman, one of the region’s biggest law firms, for over eight years prior to that. Ekdahl’s role as general counsel, part of the Onvest's Management Team, has evolved to be more focused on business issues and strategic decision making. She now has a stronger role in challenging negotiations with third parties in the Group's most important projects. She has herself led a number of strategic projects as well, including the acquisition of all shares in Lemminkäinen Talotekniikka Oy for the purchase price of EUR 60 million in May 2014.
A ‘trusted’ advisor to senior management, Åsa Ericson Hedström joined Sony in 2000 as legal counsel, after four years as a reporting official at the Swedish Competition Authority. At Sony she served as interim head of the EMEA legal department and director general counsel for the Nordics before being promoted to her current role as vice president legal and compliance in February 2013. Ericson Hedström now heads a team of 28 and serves as the principal legal advisor and general counsel to the global sales and marketing management team. Based in six locations around the world, she has made the legal department truly global with close cooperation within the department and the business, participating in all processes at an early stage. With a focus on setting the global legal strategy and developing global legal operations, Ericson Hedström’s work empowers Sony Mobile to grow its business in a fast paced market while effectively managing the associated legal risks. Among her most significant work is contributing to the successful transition from Sony Ericsson to Sony Mobile, when Sony purchased the remaining shares from Ericsson in 2012.
Nilfisk, dealing in innovative commercial cleaning products, has sales entities in 45 countries, dealers in over 70 countries and manufacturing facilities in seven countries, so the need for in-house counsel is clear. Lena Ernlund Malamberg, the head of intellectual property legal, stands out in the in-house sector as ‘very successfully and has a key role in the global handling of IP’, for Nilfisk. Having completed her bar exam, she worked as an attorney-at-law at Gorrissen Federspiel law firm before being recruited by Nilfisk in June 2014 ‘as part of an overall strategy of professionalising and optimising the Nilfisk business on a global scale and across all levels’. Ernlund Malmberg works hard to guarantee that legal IP protection of Nelfisk products is initiated at the earliest steps of development, as well as handing and negotiating contracts and dispute resolutions for the company. Within a few months of joining the company Ernlund Malmberg’s proactive manner resulted in the initiation of comprehensive strategy updates that resulted in the formation of the Global Research & Development unit. ‘The making of the global R&D function also had a great influence on my job, extending my area of legal commercial responsibility to embrace all product lines of the Nilfisk group in terms of IP legal related matters’. Her abundance of experience dealing with strategy has amounted to significant changes within the legal department, such as the introduction of IP safeguarding gate models, portfolio clean-up of previous M&A transactions and the creation of a global IP board to integrate communication across all the levels and across many functions of the company. She tells us that ‘I enjoy and highly appreciate the opportunity to apply legal knowledge and legal assistance on a broader scale, taking the traditional legal counsel role to another level’, further highlighting her capabilities to utilise her legal skill set to assist the commercial aspects of the business and to together progress the IP activities of Nilfisk to new horizons.
With expertise in copyright law, contact negotiations and a strong collaborative work ethic, Louise Ernmark was promoted in June 2013 to head a nine-strong team that she was previously part of. She now sits as senior manager, head of legal and compliance in the EMEA regions for the telecommunications giant, Sony Mobile. As a motivator of people and through the collaborative atmosphere she has created, Ernmark and her colleagues have the ability to successfully manage diverse workloads with the commercial consideration and creativity required to deliver top quality legal input.
Caroline Fellenius-Omndell is recognised for her ability to successfully build and develop legal teams globally and is now driving change in Tele2’s legal and regulatory department across nine jurisdictions. Fellenius-Omndell joined Tele2, a major European telecommunications operator, in May 2014 with a strong background in international corporate law and particular expertise in EU and competition law, having spent three years as group general counsel at Sidel. She was also previously general counsel for Europe at Tetra Pak in Paris. At Sidel, Fellenius-Omndell built and reorganised the legal department involving several key recruitments and setting up of relevant work tools. In addition she launched a corporate governance program that covered 190 countries and included face-to-face training, e-learning, recruitment of a corporate governance officer and setting up a compliance leader network. Now in her first year at Tele2, she has already developed a special competency group on areas such as competition law, data protection and M&A to utilise internal expertise and avoid unnecessary use of outside counsel. Fellenius-Omndell has in fact initiated an outside counsel project, with guidelines for work, engagement letter templates and advanced procurement of to optimise use and save costs. She also set up common legal policies and procedures and an intranet page for the department, which features contract templates and contact details. Explaining her philosophy Fellenius-Omndell says, ‘I enjoy developing the legal and regulatory organisation not only because of the efficiencies, but also because I strongly believe this is a career motivator for the lawyers in my team’. She explains further by saying, ‘I also enjoy being part of the leadership team and the board as corporate secretary, as you get insights and an ability to influence in areas which are not only strictly legal’.
Christian Fleischer Christiansen started his career as an associate at one of Denmark’s leading law firms, moving in-house in 2010 by joining Aalborg Industries A/S as general counsel. In 2011 Aalborg Industries became part of the Alfa Laval group where he is currently the head of legal for Denmark and China. Alfa Laval is a company committed to heat transfer, separation and fluid handling technologies that can be applied across a vast range of sectors such as food and water supply, energy and pharmaceuticals. Initially specialised in IP law, Fleischer has over his time as an in-house lawyer gained a profound insight into all legal areas that have been in the interest of the company. In his role at Alfa Laval he has introduced an internal company program that teaches relevant staff about polices and he has implemented a knowledge database that allows for a more systematic handling of cases. In addition to bettering the process efficiency of the legal department his efforts in establishing several polices and standard agreements for the company and his management of external counsel used on behalf of Alfa Laval have been credited. References said that ‘Christian possesses a rare ability to provide clear and effective communication – both internally in terms of employees and to the executive management as well as in his communication with external legal counsel. He has an extremely positive mind-set and is a very well-respected lawyer’. Having successfully coordinated the company in a number of international ICC arbitrations in Singapore and Paris, Fleischer tell us that this is what he enjoys most, ‘the dynamics and the constantly changing challenges. Being part of a dynamic and talented international legal team in a world leading global industrial group’.
Recognised as a ‘high performer’ within Bankgirot, Henrik Fromme is highly proficient in catering for the legal needs of the company which is the only clearing house for mass payments in Sweden. He personally has expertise in contract law, IT law, competition and corporate governance. As general counsel, Fromme works with the entire business, ‘exercising his leadership beyond his own team’, and is involved in projects from their planning stage until after completion. Fromme has changed mind-sets within the legal department to ensure it is more proactive and profit-orientated, rather than reactive and cost-orientated. Demonstrating pragmatism, he has focused efforts on ensuring the department understands the business and its processes better.
As general counsel for Norway, Matthias Geiger is responsible for eight legal professionals and one compliance professional in Norway. In addition to this role, he assumed the responsibilities of GC for Denmark in April 2015. As general counsel for Denmark, he has the further responsibility over a team of 29 legal and non-legal professionals. ‘Looking back to 2009 when I took over as GC for Norway, the legal department was not functioning well. Internal resources were insufficient both in quality and quantity, and there was no control over the retention of outside counsel’. This enabled him to restructure the whole system, any lawyers and contract managers which had previously been employed by other parts of the organisation were integrated into the legal function. ‘The mission of the department has been clarified for all employees. Members of the legal department now spend more time on risk mitigation and less time on administrative tasks’. Today, the Siemens Norway legal team is highly respected (both internally and externally) as a state of the art department. ‘To get there, I was so lucky to hire three talented lawyers from well-known Norwegian law firms who now form the core of my team’. The hardest challenge for Geiger was when Siemens Norway was charged with fraud by the Norwegian government. ‘Due to a media campaign, the public opinion was against Siemens. In 2011 Siemens was acquitted, and awarded damages in the form of reimbursement of legal expenses. This was a fantastic result for Siemens Norway and the legal department which selected the external counsel’. As Geiger spends more of his time with the Danish team as well, there will surely be more improvements on his agenda.
Nils Arne Grønlie is the first and only in-house counsel to be employed at Pharmaq AS, the world's leading pharmaceutical company specialising in aquaculture. Previously, all legal work was outsourced, so Grønlie’s first major input to the business was to alter the way the company approaches and handles risk. ‘When I speak about risk, I mean not only legal and regulatory compliance issues in all the jurisdictions in which we operate, but also business risk in relation to whom we elect to deal with and on what terms we are willing to engage with customers, suppliers and partners’. When asked what he enjoys about his role Grønlie says: ‘I think there are two main drivers for me; one is the people I work with and the other is the very meaningful mission this company has. Concerning the people, I really enjoy working to achieve common goals with all the talented and very bright people who are so passionate about their jobs every day and in all corners of the world. As for our mission, I can think of nothing better than working in a business that actually makes a difference towards sustainable aquaculture and helping feed the world’.
Alice Grünfeld is head of legal at BEC, one of three independent IT services providers in the Danish financial sector. She joined BEC in 2007 and established the legal department for the company, four years later she was still managing the department but was also made responsible for all supplier management. ‘Coming to nothing and building everything from ground zero’ is one of Grünfeld’s biggest achievements. She has a highly influential role in the organisation, dealing with the CEO and down throughout the entire organisation ‘in a way that all [their] activities are legally well founded. I am involved in numerous activities on an operational, tactical and strategic level. There are very few material activities that I am not involved in’. Because of this, Grünfeld is close to the sales team and participates in all negotiations with customers and suppliers. Her team currently handles supplier management in accordance to procedures and templates that she has developed and put in place on behalf of BEC. People that have interacted with Grünfeld on a professional level describe her as ‘easy to work with, and [someone who] considers the need for speed with reason’. Moving to an in-house role meant that Grünfeld had had to expand her field of work from her specialised IT-law to incorporate all the legal needs of BEC, ranging from corporate to employment. ‘I take commercial considerations and understand the sector I work in, including the more political aspects’. She finds her work fulfilling and says ‘I love my work and wake up happy every day. I am quite passionate about it’.
Robert Hård moved in-house after spending two years at Helsingborg District Court as a court clerk and then eight years at Vinge as an attorney at law. He joined MECA, part of the Mekonomen Group and leading player in the aftermarket for maintenance and repair of motor vehicles with a turnover of SEK 2 billion, in March 2003. Serving in the joint role of general counsel and human resources director, Hård participated in a number of successful acquisitions in addition to playing a significant role in the company’s progress in the growing market. His other notable work includes playing a significant role in the reorganisation of the company in 2013 and safeguarding company and car owner rights in the newly deregulated market. In 2014, Hård became chief legal counsel for the Mekonomen Group, responsible for all legal issues relating to its subsidiaries including MECA where he serves as a member of the Group Management.
Joining Metroselskabet, operator and constructor of the Copenhagen metro, only a year ago as the first associate, Signe Hastrup Holst has the mammoth responsibility of creating and aligning a legal department for the commercial workings of the company, which currently manages 55 million passengers a year and are expanding the current metro line. She is presently working on formulating the department in line with the vision and aspirations as she ‘still sees this as a unique opportunity’. She enjoys her role as it allows her to learn from new projects that are unique and have an evident impact on Copenhagen and Greater Copenhagen. Her current focus is on ensuring that the company gets its value for money from external law firms, attempting to move legal dealings in-house. Having worked as an associate at a law firm for eight years, dealing with individuals with a legal background, she has quickly and confidently adapted to dealing with individuals with a range of backgrounds from land surveyors to engineers. Her successful adjustment has not gone unobserved. Quoting an external lawyer who deals with Hastrup Holst at her new role: ‘Signe's approach to new challenges clearly shows that she is very competent and understands that several regards must be considered when working with law in practice’. Hastrup Holst is already making a noticeable impact on the in-house sector, despite only being in-house for a year with more to follow as she directs the Metroselskabet’s legal department to a play a more crucial role in the organisation.
Fluent in four languages and recognised as a top performer, Kristin Hedlund was appointed general counsel by Schenker North AB in 2005, after six years as legal counsel. During her experience she has taken part in and led the legal team through a variety of large transactions and lawsuits. One of Hedlund’s first tasks was actioning the sale of a large portion of the business in a series of complex transactions to companies around the world. Heading a team of nine, Hedlund acts for Schenker North & East AB, covering northern Europe from Ireland to Russia. She says ‘uniting and developing a department that covers 14 countries’ is one of her biggest achievements. Hedlund’s efforts within the department have been focused on understanding the business as well as her business peers ‘so that we can support them much more than an outside counsel can’. Hedlund elaborates further, ‘value added is our key phrase and maintaining a very high level of service has been vital since my first day on the job’.
During his time at Altia, a leading Nordic wine and spirits company, Thomas Heinonen has overseen the successful transformation of the legal function, adapting to the modern requirements of an in-house legal team. Heinonen’s role includes supporting business functions and implementing corporate governance requirements, as well as facilitating the company’s legal needs. Before joining Altia in August 2012, Heinonen worked at Oriola-KD Corporation from September 2006 serving as legal counsel and senior legal counsel, before being promoted to general counsel in January 2009. In addition to serving as secretary to the Board and managing stock exchange requirements, he worked on some of the company’s biggest deals during this time. This includes working on the entry of Oriola-KD into the Swedish pharmacy market that involved a EUR 161 million acquisition of Pharmacy Chain Sweden 2 AB (now operating as Kronans Droghandel) and a EUR 153 million purchase of the Moscow-based Russian pharmaceutical wholesale company OOO Moron and pharmaceutical retail company OOO Vitim.
Emelie Helling was appointed as general counsel of Orc, a global market leader in trading technology for listed derivatives, in 2012. By working closely with the entire business from sales, to engineers, to senior management and being involved in all its areas including risk management, Helling can boast a well-rounded skill-set and astute business acumen. Helling is a dynamic and results-driven general counsel, going the extra mile during her maternity leave by building a business continuity plan to ensure business requirements are always understood and standards in the quality of work are maintained. To supplement this, Helling had built a strong network of non-legal and finance contacts. Some of Helling’s biggest achievements are successfully managing Orc’s business challenges: during her time as general counsel, Orc Group has been listed and de-listed; it has purchased companies and been purchased itself. Demonstrating her efficiency, Helling successfully tackled the purchase of a competitor, incorporating relevant terms and conditions of the competitor's standard agreements into Orc, synchronising products and services and ensuring compliance programs were met within a tight time frame. Helling enjoys working close on deals, focusing not only on the legal aspects but on all varied interests of the company. ‘Finding the right balance, of limiting risks but making sure the deals happen, makes my job interesting and more than a purely legal role’. She believes law firms should be more proactive especially with ideas on upcoming compliance or new opportunities for expanding the company’s footprint.
Maria Hemberg began her legal career in 1988 as a trainee associate at law firm, Mannheimer Swartling. After a brief period as a law clerk at the District Court of Gothenburg, she re-joined the firm in 1990 as a senior associate serving for almost eleven years. During this period Hemberg was placed on a short-term assignment at Slaughter & May and also as legal counsel at SCA Hygene, a global producer and supplier of household hygiene goods, tissues, paper and timber. Following this taste of an in-house legal role, in September 2000 Hemberg joined Svenska Kullagerfabriken AB (SKF AB) as legal counsel. Here she focused on the mechanical engineering company’s mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures, in addition to contract law and corporate governance matters. She was involved in SKF’s global operations, working on matters in China, US, Korea and Brazil. She also served as a member of the automotive division’s management team. Hemberg joined her current company, Volvo Car Corporation, as general counselin February 2012 and now heads a team of 48. Drawing on her experiences, she has established a global legal team and built a robust intellectual property team that handles patents, trademarks and design matters within the company. She was also an integral part of handling the separation of Volvo Cars from Ford, a US car manufacturer. One of her biggest achievements at the company has been assuming the responsibility for corporate strategy and sustainability. Regarding this she says ‘influencing the strategic direction of Volvo Cars and its development, to ensure my units are seen as business enablers and not obstacles’ is the most enjoyable aspect of her role. Hemberg is also committed to developing good leaders and specialists in her team in order to maximise their input into the business.
Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP) is Norway's largest life insurance company, with capital under management exceeding NOK 500 billion. Henrik Hilseth-Hartwig successfully worked on implementing, monitoring and advising on new international legislation relevant for the KLP corporate group. ‘Since my employment in 2011, we have seen several large law initiatives (both domestic and international), that needed to be implemented and operationalised’. Compared to the role in an external law firm, Hilseth-Hartwig ‘would emphasise the value of learning the clients' business operations, which is hugely advantageous when providing legal advice to the company. I believe that all in-house counsel value external counsel that remove workload, rather than bringing about more work on the control and follow up on provided advice. Brilliant legal advice is not sufficient if given in the wrong context’. This thought is something that he has adapted into his everyday life as an in-house lawyer, trying to always understand the commercial impact of legal actions.
Synne Homble joined Cermaq in 2006 as the company’s first in-house lawyer. Prior to her hiring, all legal affairs were handled through external law firms, even though legal work had been rather extensive with significant international acquisitions and listing of the company on the Oslo Stock Exchange. She has built up the legal department to cover corporate governance, instructions and guidelines, handling of legal cases as well as a compliance program (code of conduct, tone at the top, training and control), and reducing the reliance on external advice. In 2007, Homble was appointed as chief legal officer and member of Cermaq’s corporate management team, the first and still the only female member of the management team. In 2009, her responsibility areas in the corporate management team were extended, giving her a broad responsibility to lead Cermaq’s corporate development as responsible for legal, HR, communication and sustainability/corporate responsibility. Speaking on the role she concedes that ‘this position has given me a unique platform for influencing the broader direction of the company and to strengthen the corporate functions as contributors to the company’s value creation. In the last few years Cermaq has been at centre of some of the largest transactions in Norway’. At the end of April 2013, Marine Harvest launched a public offer for all outstanding shares of Cermaq. ‘Before the launch of Marine Harvest’s offer, we had already been through an intensive process in Cermaq to conclude agreements with intention to acquire the listed company Copeinca ASA, with operations in Peru’. Cermaq’s Board recommended against the offer as it was not found to reflect the underlying values, Marine Harvest then initiated a campaign to influence Cermaq’s shareholders to vote down the Copeinca transaction. Marine Harvest’s offer was increased but still turned down by the Cermaq shareholders and the events calmed down when Cermaq sold its fish feed division, EWOS, for an enterprise value of NOK 6.5 billion to the private equity funds Altor and Bain Capital. In 2014, Cermaq was acquired by the Japanese company Mitsubishi Corporation. ‘I functioned as a project manager and coordinator of different work streams in addition to leading the legal work. In the commercial negotiation meetings, Cermaq was represented by the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Board, the CEO and myself’. The media attention was high, the work load was extreme, day and night, and the values and interests at stake were significant and contradicting. In addition to her role at Cermaq, Homble is the deputy chair of the Board of Directors of Statnett SF and a member of the Norwegian OECD contact point for responsible business, appointed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Annette Ikast is the general counsel for energinet.dk, a non-profit enterprise owned by the Danish Climate and Energy Ministry, where she heads a team of 24 including two heads of department. Energinet.dk currently faces contracts that have ‘become larger, more complex and international over time’ as well as venturing into regulatory tasks and private legal actions. Under her management the legal department has advanced into to a more streamlined and professional process unit dealing with contracts and decision making. Ikast, during her time as general counsel, has ensured that the legal department’s motto reads as ‘Legal is your friend, we will find a solution’ and in order to do so Ikast places strong importance on having a mixed team of legal and non-legal individuals with a broad skill set. As the negotiator of contracts, Ikast and her team were successful in the acquisition of 10 transmission companies, which each had different interests and ownerships leading to over 160 different agreements, a vast task that was well executed. Her leadership and effective management of complex multi-dimensional cases do not go unnoticed with one source quoting ‘we find her a very competent adviser in all matters’.
Heading a small legal division within the legal department of Arla Foods, namely global legal services - Consumer International (CIN), Peter Istrup is in charge of all dealings at a fully global level. Operating in a very lean structure of only two full time equivalents, they have the task of collaborating across the matrix of the company’s legal and corporate departments. Istrup’s approach to delivering legal services to the business stems from an angle in which stakeholder feedback enforces what the business requires other than the expected generic legal advice. This has resulted in the department extending its efforts towards tasks such as internal decision papers that allow for regional management outside of headquarters. An impressive knowledge of the entire global group allowed Istrup to understand that there was a lack in alignment during communication with the business and encouraged him to collaborate with the business functions, ensuring that all advice is presented in a ‘short, straight to the point and easy to understand’ manner. Istrup is known for his work throughout the organisation with one regional Head of Arla Foods praising Istrup for his efforts saying that Istrup is ‘sharp in the negotiations’ and has ‘a great commercial understanding beyond the expected high level of legal competence’. In addition to the above changes, Istrup initially developed a group policy that lead to a change in the legal structure, resulting in the reduction of group companies with almost 90 individual entities over four years. This has allowed a more policy driven approach within the organisation that still plays a prominent role today. Istrup thoroughly enjoys his role as an in-house lawyer and is also a board member of the Association of Danish In-house Counsels. ‘I enjoy being a service function. I enjoy that my clients are global. I enjoy working with external and internal stakeholders from different cultures and backgrounds. I enjoy the diversity in people and tasks’.
Before joining leading energy company Schneider Electric, Yvonne Ivarsson held a number of position at various institutions, including the Faculty of Law at Lund University, where she was a lecturer between 1996 and 2000. After this she joined law firm Mannheimer Swartling spending almost 11 years there as a senior associate, until January 2011. Ivarsson started her time at Schneider Electric as chief legal counsel, responsible for all legal support in the Nordic and Baltic region. Building the legal team from scratch, the first and main change she implemented was to redirect any requests for legal advice to the in-house legal department instead of to the external law firms. In bringing outside counsel use under control, most legal work is now performed in-house by Ivarsson’s team of two. The team supports the local businesses on all aspects of their operations, covering a wide variety of legal work on a daily basis. Building a legal team that is proavtively involved on most matters is one of Ivarsson’s biggest career highlights. ‘Today the legal department is a natural and important part in the decision and approval processes. We have supported the local business with a large amount of multi-million euro contracts for complex projects as well as high value, strategic global framework agreements’, she says. Having to support functions across seven jurisdictions and with limited resources, Ivarsson had the foresight to recognise the need for having supporting structures. She therefore guides her team in delivering training for the business, standardising processes by creating templates for legal documents, and defining procedures when seeking corporate approvals. She also established “Compliance Councils” in each of the jurisdictions with local management members, to ensure compliance matters are closely covered and to facilitate roll-outs of new internal corporate compliance policies.
During her years as general counsel at TV4 Group, Ulrika Jensen has overseen the legal department’s journey from being a marginal element in the company to becoming a highly valued business partner that is part of its strategy, core business and digital transformation. With the legal department, Jensen has worked strategically towards integrating the legal department into the business and on par with other departments of TV4 instead of being a ‘last checking point’. Today, the legal team is included at an early stage of negotiations, in business discussions, as part of steering committees, communicating with management teams and other governing bodies. This has been a significant change for TV4 over the last two years, but it has enabled the department to be a true business partner that add value and proactively develop solutions. Proving to the core business that they will benefit from the legal department’s input at an early stage has been one of Jensen’s biggest challenges but she enjoys being the head of, and coaching, an extremely competent and committed team as well as working on digital transformation. ‘Part of our strategy is our constant and relentless work to get better every day at providing clear and solution-orientated advice that can be applied directly, to use a holistic approach and be the natural integrated business partner’.
Anna Jonsson joined the Swedish dairy farmer, Skånemejerier, in 2010 as an external legal consultant. After closing a large business transaction, she was hired as general counsel in January 2011. During summer of 2011 she also took on the HR director position in addition to being head of legal. This dual role Jonsson holds presents some unique challenges that she has taken in her stride. However following a major restructuring the roles were split again in 2015 and Jonsson’s new role is legal director for Skånemejerier, and its parent company, Lactalis. Covering the latter’s operations in Scandinavia, Germany, Poland and Baltic countries, Czech Republic and Slovakia, Hungary and the UK. As general counsel at Skånemejerier, Jonsson built the routines and structures of corporate and legal matters with the aim of taking preventive and proactive measures. She implemented a digital agreement management system and a knowledge management database with standard form agreements in addition to compliance and competition training. One of her biggest achievements at Skånemejerier came in June 2012 when the company was sold to French company, Lactalis. Jonsson led the transaction and due diligence work, by negotiating with the purchaser and arranging formal procedures to receive approval of the transaction by the 600 members of the economic association. As the transaction also included major restructuring activity, where most of the business was transferred between two legal entities, Jonsson led the integration process. She enjoys the operative element of her role saying she sees herself as ‘being part of the business, not "only" being a legal support function’.
Ole Jørgensen, as senior vice president and lawyer, was tasked with establishing a legal department that is better suited to Danske Bank’s cross-border nature. Jørgensen collated the legal activities of lawyers in four Nordic countries into one legal department, successfully overcoming the challenges of varying cultural work ethics, while generating a resilient sense of team work. In his current role for Danske Bank, Jørgensen has had the unique opportunity to influence policies governing the financial sector of Denmark. Seizing this opportunity, he has efficaciously, within a committee, invented a new loan category for financing the purchase of households, namely the Flex Loan. Moreover, he has taken his legal responsibility to new heights by attaining licencing to issue cover bonds in which the revenue goes towards the purchase of houses, introducing this tool to Danske Bank in 2005, making it the first bank to implement said licensing. His effort in legal finance has not gone unheard of, with one source noting that ‘during the recent years, Ole has been working on some of the most significant and high-profile insolvencies and restructuring processes in the Scandinavian markets’. His exertions on financial legal policy deserves recognition, with his creativity and hard work making him an indispensable component of Danske Bank.
Prior to joining Nordic Capital, a market leading private equity investor in the region, in April 2012 Jenny Keisu worked as a lawyer at Mannheimer Swartling in Stockholm, specialising in M&A and Equity Capital Markets. Keisu has changed perceptions of the legal team in Nordic Capital since joining the company. Recognised as a real talent in the industry after taking on the role, Keisu wasted no time in demonstrating her ability as a very knowledgeable advisor, ensuring her team of five lawyers gives valuable input into the company whilst considering risks appropriately. On the topic of risk, Keisu comments that ‘we have managed to strike a balance making sure that we are always adding value and facilitating processes and transactions, rather than the opposite’. Keisu demonstrates the depth of her knowledge during her teaching as a visiting senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Uppsala University, Sweden.
‘Rasmus Kirkeby Salling is one-of-a-kind. Extremely legally gifted, while at the same time displaying a unique ability to apply the law in a highly business-oriented context’, describes a member of an external law firm. In his current role as senior IP counsel and finance and control legal affairs for Schneider Electric, Kirkeby Salling has been a key player in managing and transforming the IP legal services into a proactive, key business partner and advisor to the company. With a 30-strong IP professional team, located worldwide, Schneider Electric provides leading legal care to their customers, partners and over 180,000 company colleagues. Kirkeby Salling’s efforts are recognised for the leadership displayed in the regions of EMEA and CIS for which he is responsible, with three colleagues reporting into him. Despite being a small team, Kirkeby Salling tells us the team has been successful in tailoring legal services to meet the needs of newly acquired companies. ‘This has given me the unique opportunity to work and lead in a truly international and fast paced environment where colleagues think globally and no days are alike – this I enjoy the most’. For his problem solving abilities in a dynamic global environment, his humble nature, his hard work and as a reference put it best, for his aptitude to identify ‘the real risks and how to prioritise them, Rasmus is truly an outstanding lawyer’.
Nina Kiviranta moved in-house in 1996 after four years of working in law firms. For her first corporate role, Kiviranta joined Metsä Board (previously M-real Corporation), a leading European folding boxboard and white fresh forest fibre linerboard producer, serving as legal counsel, general counsel and vice president over a period of 10 years. In addition to working on major mergers and acquisitions, Kiviranta assisted the company when the EU conducted their biggest price fixing investigation, at the time, into paper producers. She then spent seven years as head of corporate legal and chief compliance officer at one of the region’s most distinguished companies, Nokia Siemens Networks. Kiviranta played an important role in project planning for the Nokia and Siemens joint venture in 2007 in addition to assisting on its compliance matters. Now at Outotec, a technologies and services provider for the metal and mineral processing industries, Kiviranta serves as general counsel. Since joining, she has been at the heart of a number of high profile pieces of work. Recently she worked on an anti-trust case where the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has been investigating Outotec regarding its market position and practices in China flash smelting technology. In addition, Kiviranta is a member of Outotec’s executive board. She sees this as important, noting that ‘the GC can be involved in the executive level decision making and can be involved in business matters as well, which is very helpful to get involved in the cases in early phases’.
Martina Klaus joined The Volvo Group, Sweden’s multinational manufacturer, in 2005 as part of the Volvo Aero division. In 2010 she moved to Shanghai for a 12 month Asian truck project for the Group, which enabled Klaus to gain a global perspective of the company’s business operations. Until a restructure in January 2012, Klaus was general counsel for the purchasing division. The restructure led to her current position as general counsel for the newly formed Volvo Trucks division, responsible for the handling of legal issues that arise from manufacturing of Trucks’ cab and vehicles, engines and transmissions and logistics operations. With 50 plants and 81 distribution centres worldwide, Klaus, leads and coordinates work to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulation, mitigating risks in business operations. Building the legal team for Volvo Trucks, Klaus now heads a team of 12, based in Sweden, France, China and the US. She also works with the global network of Volvo’s legal counsels to give constant and consistent support across the Group. Klaus was integral in supporting the division during a strategic operational period, between 2012 and 2015, designed to optimise industrial and logistical footprint. As a result the company’s cost base was substantially reduced involving closing downs, divestments and other related actions. Klaus thrives within the global scope of her role. Giving an insight into her job, she says that she enjoys ‘having a joint venture working meeting in the morning with Asia, a European compliance embedding meeting over lunch and a divestment meeting with the Americas during the afternoon’. In addition Klaus also relishes the challenge posed to Volvo Trucks with the growing trend of increasing levels of trade barriers throughout the world. As she says, ‘the challenge is to make sure we optimise our industrial and sourcing footprint and are still being compliant and taking advantage of the business opportunities offered when navigating through the trade barriers’.
The Raisio Group is an international company with expertise in plant-based nutrition, which produces cereal products and animal feeds. Sari Koivulehto-Mäkitalo joined Raisio in 2006, and has since been transforming the way in which the legal department cooperates and integrates with the business. She has made the legal affairs team more business-orientated, whilst balancing the need for consistency when providing services to separate business units within the group: ‘usually a member from legal affairs is participating in the management team meetings of individual business units’. During her time at Raisio, the level of merger and acquisition activity has increased significantly and several robust legal practices have been established related to procedural accuracy and efficiency. ‘Acquiring companies abroad has forced us to establish legal guidelines on how to work with subsidiaries abroad and the deployment of group compliance policies’ says Koivulehto-Mäkitalo. She has been particularly proactive as the significance of intellectual property rights issues has increased for all businesses of Raisio, which has led to her producing a group-wide list of IPR policies.
Mette Kondrup Jensen is the vice president of Novo Nordisk, a company in the pharmaceutical sector, with 16 employees reporting into her. Her role extends to the legal department where she is responsible for labour and employment law in a company that has approximately 16,000 employees. Kondrup Jensen has led a team of central lawyers to increase the focus on global data and ‘handling employees’ personal data in relation to EU legislation’. She has also been personally responsible for the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme and “soft law” initiatives, ensuring that they are in adherence with the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights legislation. Kondrup Jensen says this has been her biggest challenge: ‘from a legal point of view the focus on being compliant with "soft law" within CSR is a huge challenge for in-house lawyers. Where you usually have a core legislation to back the arguments up, the "soft law" area much more depends on reputational damage or recognition’. Last year her team successfully implemented the Novo Nosdisk Global labour guidelines which covers employees globally, an impressive feat considering the geographies covered. Kondrup Jensen’s work is not going overlooked and she is praised by colleagues in external law firms who say ‘she possesses strong commercial intellect and takes a very business-oriented approach to legal challenges. She has a highly international mind-set and acts in a very proactive manner’.
Femern are planning one of the world’s largest infrastructure projects and the largest in Northern Europe, a fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt from Denmark to Germany. Having previously worked at COWI as a legal advisor, Titti Kopp joined Femern initially as the legal advisor for plan approval and environment. Now as chief legal officer, Kopp is in charge of regulatory approvals and environmental in the company’s legal centre, which acts as the internal advisory office. One of her main tasks has been to ensure that the Construction Act is complied with during implementation stages of the project. ‘I enjoy the fact that I have had the freedom to contribute new legal solutions to complex legal issues and turn them also in a cross-border perspective’. Her dedication to this vast project and effective handling of cross-cultural law makes her stand out as an in-house lawyer in the transportation industry. An external lawyer who works with Kopp tells us that ‘I myself and my staff are very impressed by her professional skills, her involvement and commitment to the cases she is working with and her high performance level’.
After six years of working for Roschier Attorneys, Eki Korpiola moved in-house. In June 2002, he joined Nokia Corporation, the global communications and IT giant based in Finland, spending six and a half years there. A legal counsel for four years, responsible for various matters ranging from software out-licensing to usage of Open Source Software at Nokia Mobile Phones, Korpiola also acted for Nokia as privacy representative to the European Information and Communications Technology Association (EICTA) and was a leadership team member in various business units. During this period Korpiola was also the vice chair of the Finnish IT Law Association. He was promoted to senior legal counsel (Devices Research and Development) and relocated to New York in October 2006, focusing on technology transactions and out-licensing of Nokia’s 3G modem technology. Upon his return to Finland and joining the sporting goods company Amer Sports in September 2009, Korpiola is head of legal and IPR for Suunto, one of Amer’s subsidiaries that manufactures and markets connected sports watches, dive computers, compasses and precision instruments. He has shifted the perception of legal being a ‘back-office function’ in a number of ways. This includes creating new Intellectual Property processes and structures, following a merge of the legal and IPR departments. This has facilitated expedient and timely protection of the company’s innovation and branding needs as well as increasing the department’s steer of the IPR portfolio development, particularly important considering the technology out-licensing business requirements and the change from traditional stand-alone sport watches to smart watches with mobile connectivity and phone applications. In addition he has created standard legal templates for the most important fields of business that are readily available for Suunto’s employees via a cutting edge internal intranet-based tool. As a result of Korpiola’s work, legal and IPR matters have become an integral part of management attention and legal matters are dealt with from the planning stage of each project. As testament to Korpiola’s initiatives, the department has been promoted to become part of Suunto´s global management team. Some of Korpiola’s other career highlights include the significant divestment of three Suunto non-core business functions. After said divestments, Korpiola was the lead counsel in Amer Sports' acquisition of Nikita and Sports-Tracker brands. Korpiola has led on a number of successful defences of patent assertions and litigations and oversaw the creation of a technology out-licensing business.In addition to demonstrating his expertise in intellectual property, licensing and privacy law Korpiola has shown his business and commercial nous too. He says ‘due to its resources, the legal team must be able to multitask in different areas of expertise in a very cost-efficient manner. This calls for prioritisation of matters, great team work within Suunto and Amer Sports
Eli Krogstad has been an in-house lawyer for almost nine years, prior to which she was an associate at DLA Piper. Her role at Peab, a leading construction and civil engineering company, sees her taking on negotiations and drafting agreements. Krogstad assists and advises the business in a swift and effective manner, she tries not take on time consuming matters, instead outsourcing to law firms in such cases. ‘Being part of a small legal team, prioritising is very important and often challenging’, and means that she has to be realistic in the work that she completes. Krogstad has had a pivotal role in several acquisitions that Peab has completed the last eight years, handling the share purchase agreement and due diligence process. ‘It is useful to use in-house counsel in these matters to secure the implementation of the new businesses in the group. In addition, in-house counsel have good knowledge of the business and culture of the acquiring company. This can be important during the examination of the target company’.
Mikko Laaksonen spent over five years at Merilampi Attorneys before moving in-house as legal counsel in January 2011 to Oy Teboil Ab, the second largest oil company in Finland. Within one year Laaksonen was promoted to general counsel and has overall responsibility for Teboil’s legal matters. As well as his legal duties, Laaksonen also serves as a member on the Board of Directors for the company. Since joining Teboil, Laaksonen has been instrumental in driving efficiency in the company by successfully organising and restructuring the legal department’s actions. As a result, business units have become aware of the legal department’s processes and basic requirements in Finnish law so the legal team can provide the information and advice they require. In addition, Laaksonen has created a corporate governance management structure to streamline information and communication between business units with the result that more extensive Management Board meetings and more ‘business-oriented’ Business Management Board meetings take place regularly.
Pedro Leite heads a team of 20 people at Marine Harvest ASA, a Norwegian seafood company. He was the first lawyer to be recruited in-house, where his role primarily involved tax law. During his time as vice president tax and legal he has managed to integrate two separate groups into one team, his first major task. ‘From a legal and tax perspective, this involved three headquarters, in which we had to merge two major companies. This required us to clean-up, optimise and integrate the two companies over several jurisdictions’. Leite acknowledges that maintaining professional relationships has proven challenging due to the handling of ongoing internal investigations. That, in conjunction with the challenges faced during a shift in the company’s activities from a pioneer to an industrialised role in the aquaculture sector, have proved difficult at times. When discussing industries he comments that the aquaculture industry is relatively new to increased regulator and legislator scrutiny in some jurisdictions. ‘Norway is now a specialist in this area of law, however in other jurisdictions, legislation and regulations are still being implemented and therefore can lead to jurisdictional issues’. More recently, Leite won a dispute against the tax authorities, which he said was ‘a personal win. It shows endurance and that we did not to give up’. Faced by many challenges Leite motivates his team through endurance and innovative solutions.
Marimekko Corporation is a Finnish textile company that produces clothing, bags, accessories and home décor based on their own unique prints. Tiina Lencioni is general counsel with two legal team members, who are well experienced in the field of intellectual property rights, reporting into her. Over the past four years Lencioni has molded the legal/IP department for Marimekko and has added efficiency functions such as education templates and case handling systems that allow the department to function as a well-oiled unit. Her biggest achievement has been creating the legal department in order to support the company’s needs as a globally renowned brand. Under her leadership the department has been successful in advising on share issues and in dealing with cases that involve publicity, requiring prompt solutions. Lencioni enjoys taking part in the decision-making process at Marimekko and believes that ‘it is very rewarding if my advice can also lead to a better solution from the business point of view’.
Miriam Lewinschal joined Infranord AB, the Swedish government enterprise and railway contractor in 2012 after seven successful years at Mannheimer Swartling. Moving to the public sector, Lewinschal has introduced new ways of working in a short space of time to improve the legal department’s efficiency. With expertise in contract and corporate law, her work has a significant impact on the company as she deals with some of the company’s most important customers and negotiates settlements when disputes arise.
Sophie Lewis started her legal career as an associate at Baker & McKenzie, after which she was appointed as legal counsel at Carlsberg in 2012 and was promoted to legal director in 2014. The Carlsberg Group is a Danish brewing company founded in 1847 and became the fifth largest brewery in the world after merging with a Norwegian conglomerate, Orkla ASA in early 2001. Sophie has been involved in an array of commercial legal matters and was also a member of the compliance team at Carlsberg. She subsequently became head of business ethics. During her time working in the ethics role, she introduced a new system that trained and developed employees, and has driven the compliance agenda to give it a more prominent place in the company, creating a more dynamic compliance culture throughout the whole Group. When recent structural changes moved business ethics to another department, Sophie returned to commercial legal matters and now focuses her attention on ‘leading a project to standardise and improve our contracting processes which I expect will generate significant efficiency savings and a more streamlined and professional way of working’. Sophie points out that the biggest challenge of working in-house is the constant need to remain ‘business agile and being able to adapt and respond to the changing needs and focus of the business in challenging conditions’. This agility is what Sophie enjoys the most as her role has evolved and changed significantly during her time with Carlsberg, it allows her to advise on different areas of the business while learning from the various functions and departments. Most of all she enjoys ‘being close to, and considered a trusted adviser of the business understanding their challenges and finding legal solutions to best fit their needs’.
Before moving in-house in 2012, Lindström accumulated almost five years of experience as an associate at law firms Setterwalls and Mannheimer Swartling. Thereby developing his skills in corporate law, international arbitration and commercial litigation before moving to Rederi AB TransAtlantic. Thony Lindström has recently accepted a job at Floatel International Ltd, a Swedish based shipping company that specialises in Offshore Accommodation Vessels. Being the first lawyer ever to be employed by Viking Supply Ships AB and its subsidiary Rederi TransAtlantic AB, Lindström set up the legal department and determined his own role. As the general counsel of a listed company he became part of the management team and contributed in changing their way of working. Legal scrutiny for instance, is now incorporated in the company’s Investor Relations. This has led to a significant reduction of costs incurred for external counsel. Working under extreme time pressure in financially distressed situations whilst providing quality legal advice is challenging, but Lindström enjoys driving decision-making at the very beginning of the process. When he started in 2012, the group was loss-making and not performing to its usual high standards. Lindström has played a key role in an extensive restructuring scheme, leading on many parts of the cost-side of the business, which contributed to a turnaround in company profits. This has included divesting subsidiaries which were determined as not belonging to the core of the business, reflagging and change of management for the entire fleet of vessels, reducing the legal entities from 55 to 20, renegotiating bareboat charters and other financing obligations. Together with improved sales and an improved market, the group showed positive results in 2014 with a SEK 200 million profit.
Established in 2010, ICE has developed quickly into a world-class service centre for the global management of musical rights. The company offers a professional and efficient service, which enables music societies and organisations to manage copyright, and allows the music industry to explore and use their extensive works and production database. When Åse Lundh Gravenius joined ICE in 2013, her first task was to set up a legal department whilst ensuring its rapid expansion remained compliant. ‘As general counsel at ICE, you are working in a young, fast-paced company with inspiring colleagues with a vast knowledge in music and the business in general. To be surrounded by such individuals all day long is truly the most inspirational environment I've ever had the pleasure to work in’. Lundh Gravenius fulfils all the usual roles associated with general counsel but in addition has to manage the extensive atypical legal conundrums due to ICE’s state of the art copyright management service and a browser-driven database containing more than 20 million musical works. This involves tackling an array of data protection and intellectual property issues that require innovative solutions. As customers hand over a large part of the music data they've collected over a number of years, ICE has to ensure it deals with data transparently and responsibly. At the same time ICE is often faced with the challenge of different interpretations on how a musical work is to be treated in the ICE databases. For Lundh Gravenius and her team, this requires finding ways of reaching a common understanding internally, to ensure efficiency in data input work.
Described as ‘highly competent’ with ‘excellent leadership skills’ Nina Macpherson has led Ericsson’s global legal affairs division as chief legal officer since January 2011. Macpherson joined Ericsson in 1996 as group general counsel, before becoming vice president, corporate governance and antitrust law in 1999, until 2007. During this time she worked on some of the company’s most significant work including guiding the company and its subsidiaries in transitioning to the Euro currency and the merger that created Sony Ericsson. Macpherson leads a 181-strong legal team and has initiated strategic job rotations in order to facilitate a broad experience base in the team.‘We are taking a number of initiatives to reduce external costs, including a better governance of law firms and insourcing of work. The cross border governance and cooperation has also rapidly increased’. Like other general counsel of multinational companies Macpherson has faced challenges along the way, including cyber security threats and dealing with crisis situations, such as major catastrophes like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2013. She highlights that it is also difficult ‘doing business and protecting the employees in times of war and terrorism and implementing proper anti-corruption training’. During her time at Ericsson, she has drawn particular note for her role in a large new issue of restructured shares, won a number of important patent disputes and dealt with highly complex mergers and acquisitions. Humble in her approach, she says, ‘the biggest achievements are not possible for me to talk about, but, of course being appointed to CLO was a tremendous honour’.
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) is the largest multidisciplinary research organisation in Northern Europe, providing high-end technology solutions and innovation services. Known as ‘business-orientated’ and a ‘leader’, Matias Markkanen played an important role in VTT’s transition from being a state-owned company into a limited liability entity, having a major role in the restructuring process. He has worked on several key mergers and acquisitions of international organisations for VTT, including a US Research Institute. Markkanen swiftly rose through the ranks at VTT after joining the company in 2007 as legal counsel. He currently sits as senior legal counsel - Manager of VTT Legal Affairs, but also holds the position of CEO of VTT International, managing all of VTT’s foreign legal units, challenging a notion in the industry that it is impossible to hold both general counsel and CEO positions in a company. With an array of legal expertise in different fields including intellectual property, corporate governance and licensing, Markkanen is recognised for his ability to assist on VTT’s innovative tech solutions from research to commercialization. One of his big achievements within the department has been improving efficiency through improved response time.
Anette Mellbye has worked at Electromagnetic GeoServices since 2007, where she heads a small legal team of three people. ‘We are a small company of 350 employees working worldwide so a lot of the legal work is performed by outside counsel. Last year we worked in 14 different jurisdictions, and it is impossible to get inside legal competence to cover so widely with the combination of international work and size of company and contracts’. One of Mellbye’s achievements has been to build a corporate social responsibility policy with a yearly report. Anti-corruption training and reporting has also been implemented as an improvement to the security of the company. Having standard procedures for the business to follow has allowed her the time to become involved in the work earlier, assisting in the risk and cost reduction in a number of processes in the company. One of her biggest achievements is winning the patent validity case launched by Schlumberger Holding against two base method patents in EMGS in the European Patent Office (EPO) and the UK patent courts. On what she enjoys most about her role, Mellbye first covers the part that she plays in ‘training on patent law and corporate legal matters’. She also enjoys ‘being part of the executive management and the decision making process. The variation of work and the interaction with many employees of a variety of nationalities makes my role more interesting’.
Helena Nelson joined Carnegie Investment Bank in April 2013 and now heads a team of three lawyers and one paralegal. Before this, she was chief compliance officer and the head of operational risk at Swedbank, which involved leading around 200 lawyers and non-lawyers. With a commitment to continuous personal development, Nelson explains her decision to move from Swedbank by saying ‘I wanted to once again work operatively with legal matters in order to not lose my legal skills’. One of Nelson’s biggest challenges and achievements came in a previous role where the company she worked for was acquired in a hostile take-over. ‘I managed to move to the general counsel role and to secure the future of the corporate legal team of some 15 individuals without any forced redundancies’. Currently Nelson works closely to the board and the CEO at Carnegie and is working to make the legal department ‘less reactive and more proactive’, fulfilling the role of a trusted business partner.
Camilla Nyhus-Møller has been at Höegh for almost 10 years. ‘When I started working in the Höegh Group in 2006, Höegh LNG was not established as a separate company. As of 2010, I became the only lawyer employed by Höegh LNG. Since then, I have established a legal and compliance department for the newly-created Höegh LNG Group’. Höegh LNG has raised USD 1.8 billion in equity, bond and debt transactions, including the establishment of, and listing on NYSE, of a Master Limited Partnership. ‘When I joined Höegh LNG from a major law firm in Norway, I had been working on shipping related transactions mostly related to contract law. In Höegh LNG, I have been given the opportunity to not only work on the contract side of the projects and financing, but also being the company's counsel on corporate and capital market transactions’. In addition, Nyhus-Møller is in the process of hiring a legal maritime trainee on a program initiated by the Norwegian Ship-owner Association. She says her biggest achievement in her career so far is the structuring and establishment of Höegh LNG Partners LP (MLP) and its initial public offering (IPO) in 2014, as this was a relatively unknown structure in the Norwegian market. The IPO required co-ordination of lawyers from eight jurisdictions facilitating the establishment of the structure and the transfer of the IPO fleet of three vessels from the sponsor Höegh LNG Holdings Ltd. to the MLP. The MLP IPO was the best priced shipping IPO and was recently awarded the Offshore Marine Money IPO award. The MLP currently has a market capitalisation of USD 550 million. During the same time, the company has grown to be one the world's biggest provider of FSRUs (Floating Storage Regasification Units), now with eight FSRU new buildings delivered and on order. The delivered vessels are on long term charters and have commenced operation in China, Indonesia, Lithuania and Egypt and are planning start-up in Colombia as of next year and later in Chile. This expansion will continue to bring new challenges for Nyhus-Møller and her team.
Steinar Nyrud has built up the legal department of Höegh from one lawyer in 2005 to a team of six today. ‘The business has expanded and we have had to expand with it. The legal department serves in a matrix system that has to cover a diverse set of business and legal challenges. The team covers ‘two shipping companies, a real estate company and an investment activity owned and controlled by the Høegh family’. Nyrud has drawn particular plaudits for winning a major tax dispute against the Norwegian authorities, which was well covered in the market. His other significant work includes having a defining role in the stock listing of one of Höegh’s companies and leading a transaction that brought A.P. Møller-Maersk into the group as a co-shareholder.
Konica Minolta, specialising in the provision of managed print and document management solutions has over the last decade branched out into the IT sector, putting it face to face with many new, complex legal matters. Kristian Øhrstrøm, jurist, legal adviser and compliance officer for the company has played a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition by developing contractual and Term & Agreement templates for the company. As a proactive member within the business he is able to identify and deal with legal shortcomings and potential risks of new products during the infant stage of implementation. As a skilled legal adviser, he has an ability to ensure clients are, in a friendly and cooperative legal climate, ensuring both the company and the customer are content with business dealings. Not only does Øhrstrøm display successful mediating between client and company, he has correspondingly made an impact on public authorities to ensure that their assessment of matters is best analysed while reaching a mutual understanding with the company. Through his work as a legal advisor at Konica Minolta his abilities to negotiate and handle complex situations has been made very clear: ‘I enjoy when things come together and a matter is settled in a way where all parties are satisfied and believe in the final result as being a fair result. These settlements are often results of negotiations where I have been able to facilitate a process where all parties have respected basic rules of being able to not only present their own opinion but also being willing to try to understand the other parties’ opinions’. His efforts do not go unnoticed, with a lawyer from a leading Danish law firm praising ‘Kristian Øhrstrøm to be rated among the best and most influential in-house lawyers in Denmark’. They proceed to point out his noteworthy communication abilities and conclude that ‘Kristian is among the longest-serving senior officers of the group’s Danish entity. Thus, the company’s Danish “corporate memory” is in large part vested with him’.
Neptune Properties was established as a real estate company with a main focus on the development and sales of flats and houses in 2007, with annual sales of approximately NOK 500 million over the past four years. In 2012, Tore Økseter moved from being a partner at CLP law firm, in which he worked alongside Neptune Properties, to join as Neptune’s first in-house general counsel. At the start of 2015, he was promoted to CEO and lawyer MNA. The CEO role brings a different demand on Økseter’s time, but allows him to apply his skills in a more commercial way. As Økseter is the only in-house lawyer, he deals with a wide variety of legal matters within the company. His main focus has been to proactively improve and implement routines, standardise documents and educate employees to avoid disputes, all adding to the efficiency of an already impressive commercial team. Økseter has a 12-strong non-legal team reporting into him. When asked what he enjoys most about his in-house role, he says ‘It is a very free role with a lot of responsibility, but less stress than in a law firm because I only serve one client. I am also working with broader matters now than I did in a law firm, including tax and VAT’.
Rune Olav Pedersen leads a 50-strong team, covering a wide range of legal work. When he first joined Petroleum Geo-Services, the legal department was fairly small, with lawyers in various legal and business departments scattered around the company instead of centralised in one unit. After a restructure, all lawyers report to Olav Pedersen who in turn reports to the CEO, in a full corporate function: ‘mirrored to the larger operation, with the head reporting to me, with one junior lawyer and a paralegal to support them’. A fundamental change that Olav Pedersen made was to strengthen and revitalise the Intellectual Property department, based in Houston, USA. His main task, whilst restructuring the organisation, has been to prove that the legal team adds value and that the company should not view them as a department which creates problems, but one that people want to use. ‘It was challenging initially, to change the perception of the legal team, but we are now seen as a contributor and we demonstrate value to the business through the work that we are able to facilitate’.
Under Carl Östring’s leadership, the legal department has developed the support it provides to AB Traction, a publicly traded investment company, and its subsidiaries. Acting for the company’s subsidiary boards, Östring works closely with the CEOs and utilises his expertise in corporate and contact law, corporate governance and commercial litigation by educating the key individuals in the company who act as drivers of change. ‘I need to identify people who will not only ask me questions, but who are willing to learn and help me improve the day to day business’. Demonstrating his ability to work on big deals concurrently, in spring of 2015 Östring was involved in the restructuring of BE Group AB, an on-going listing of Nilorngruppen AB and a bid for Partnertech where AB Traction is one of the major shareholders and potential sellers. Östring also has a working knowledge of five languages including English, French, Russian and Spanish as well as Swedish.
Since joining Nobina AB as general counsel, Martin Pagrotsky has played a central role in moving the company away from a costly dependency on law firms. The changes Pagrotsky has implemented have encouraged the company to utilise its legal resources, freeing up a considerable portion of the legal budget so the team can focus on work that pushes the boundaries in a market previously centralised in the Swedish State. Nobina is now the biggest bus operator in the Nordics, with a total revenue of SEK 42 billion. As part of the Group management structure, Pagrotsky has been pivotal in the approach that has taken the company from an annual loss of SEK 800 million to a profit of SEK 200 million, eliminating its debt after a successful IPO. Demonstrating his position as the ‘legal leader in the market’ Pagrotsky has successfully challenged several Public Transport Authority (PTA) contract awarding decisions, and has worked with the PTAs to successfully win legal cases introduced by competitors. ‘If necessary, we initiate litigation especially if it is a case of principles’, he explains. Pagrotsky adds that in different forums with the PTAs, he pushes for more market-oriented terms and conditions.
‘Highly skilled and knowledgeable’, Marcus Palm heads a team of three and routinely overcomes the technological issues within Välinge, a world leading research, development and intellectual property company in the flooring industry, which invented the world’s first non-glue click together floorings. With an ‘excellent understanding of litigation and agreements including international patent protection and enforcement matters’, Palm boasts the ability to apply his expertise in patent litigation, licensing and procurement within different departments of the company as it develops technology. He has built a responsive legal department that delivers quick and effective advice and successfully integrated it into the business. The department contributes to company profits through successful litigations, balancing the demands of the business with a legal risk assessment and by actively working to stop infringement in the industry.
With a ‘holistic approach’ and ‘extensive experience in regulatory matters relative to listed companies’, Sami Pauni sits not only as group general counsel but also senior vice president, corporate affairs and legal at Huhtamäki Oyj, a NASDAQ listed company with origins in the Nordics. He was also appointed as a member of the group executive team at the company in February 2015 at the age of 40. The promotion to the executive team is testament to his successes and commercial approach for the company so far. Pauni heads a team of 15 at Huhtamäki, the global manufacturer and provider of packaging for foods and consumer goods. Among his more challenging work, Pauni works on various compliance and corporate governance related areas in the emerging markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
General counsel, Ronny Persson heads a team of 15 at Resurs Bank. The company consists of Resurs Bank, a market leader in Swedish retail financing, and Solid Försäkringar, a company committed to providing innovative insurance solutions. Persson is able to combine legal expertise of corporate law, banking and risk management with leadership skills that have helped his colleagues in the legal team to combine a solid legal approach with commercial nous. He takes a lot of pride in, and understands the value of, helping his colleagues grow as professionals and people. ‘It’s not my leadership that defines the department, it is the sum of all the individuals’, he says.
With 15 years of experience under his belt, ranging from working at a leading Danish law firm to an excellent track record as a trusted legal advisor dealing with consumer goods, energy, medical diagnostics and biotechnology, Patrick Plucnar stands out for his quality advice and depth of experience. In his current role as general counsel at Royal Unibrew, the second largest brewery group in Denmark, Plucnar has been particularly pre-emptive in increasing cross-country collaboration between the company’s legal functions while placing a strong emphasis on saving costs for the company. During both his previous and current roles he is esteemed by management for his creative legal advice and dynamic incorporation of commercial attractiveness, coupled with his capability to successfully optimise and execute commercial strategies. Plucnar’s long term experience of dealing with external law firms across borders, cultures and various complex transactions makes him an asset for the company. His experiences have endorsed him for his ability to effectively define deal strategies, handle due diligence and negotiate transactions while collaborating with senior management and external law firms. To pinpoint one of his many achievements, within a few weeks of joining the company, Plucnar’s efforts in the acquisition of Hartwall, the second largest Finnish brewery was exemplary. As a valued general counsel Plucnar believes ‘continuously striving to increase efficiency, reduce costs in the in-house legal function, deliver first class legal advice with commercial attractiveness and solutions to the business’ and maintaining ‘a highly motivated and performance oriented legal team’, are the key ingredients to achieving an esteemed legal department.
Previously, Flemming Pristed played a central role at KMD A/S, an IT service provider for the municipalities and government of Denmark. A few of his many achievements during a decade within the IT sector, are his role in the privatisation and sale to EQT in 2008 and his work on PMO for the sale of KMD A/S to Advent International in 2012. He moved from IT to the financial sector, joining Danske Bank in 2013, where he led the legal department from a fragmented and decentralised organisation to a team which is integrated throughout the business and across geographical markets. Pristed separated compliance from legal to allow the focus to be directed towards business strategy, customer transactions and regulatory implementation projects, making legal a true partner to the business. His introduction of the Legal Risk Policy, a five-strong external law firm panel and his creation of KPIs focused on internal stakeholder satisfaction has helped progress the legal department deeper into the business’ goals and strategies, while allowing for significant reductions in the costs of external advice. He is constantly looking for pioneering protocols to epitomise the legal department and is currently in the process of concluding the Legal Strategy 2015-2020, the first ever strategy for legal at Danske Bank. As well as his operational charge, Pristed’s fantastic managerial efforts must also be considered; leading 138 in-house legal counsel and nine non-legal staff dispersed over 13 different countries. He concedes that he enjoys most ‘when my management team and the legal counsels are working together in close cooperation to achieve one common goal’. On the highlight of his career he mentions participating in the sale of Nets Holding A/S, a payment infrastructure company, in 2014, only a year after joining the company. This is coupled with his work during the aftermath of the financial crisis when Danske Bank was faced with illicit accusations for market manipulation, which were dropped under his leadership of the legal department. ‘Coming from a non-banking M&A background I would say that my biggest challenge has been to familiarise myself with the particular legal aspects of the financial industry’, and he has done so in a swift and thorough manner. Going from an external counsel at Kromann Reumert, to making meaningful contributions in the IT sector and now at his current role at Dankse Bank, Pristed’s transparent work manner, ability to comprehend new sectors swiftly and inspirational leadership all warrant their own recognition.
Tuula Rainto has extensive knowledge and experience with an in-house career that spans over 20 years. After working for companies in a variety of sectors, as well as a six year stint as a legal consultant advising several corporate customers on legal matters, Rainto moved to her current role in 2012 as general counsel for Vaasan Group, one of Northern Europe’s leading bakery companies. Rainto is responsible for all legal affairs of Vaasan Group in addition to serving on its subsidiary’s Supervisory and Management Boards, providing high class legal advice to group management and stakeholders. Since joining Vaasan, Rainto has played an integral role in creating a contracting process, an intellectual property rights policy and training key personnel on compliance issues, planning the set-up of an e-learning tool to facilitate this. Demonstrating her expertise in M&A work, Rainto has recently gained recognition in the company for her contribution in the sale of Vaasan to Swedish company Lantmännen, adhering to tight time schedules and completing due diligence work.
Established in 1941, VKR Holding, parent to an international group of companies, specialise in the development, manufacturing and sales of windows, natural ventilation and solar systems. They are located in over 40 countries, employing over 15,000 individuals and it is in this vast organisation that Henrik Rasmussen operates as the general counsel and head of corporate affairs with a 12-strong team compiled of both legal and non-legal members. All legal matters are centralised to their department dealing with a range of legal issues from real estate to crisis management. In his role Rasmussen is responsible for monitoring and managing contracts and legal risk while providing corporate parenting within legal solutions, selecting internal and external lawyers and IP protection for products. Rasmussen and his team take part in the VELUX global facility which is dedicated to managing sales and lease of real estate on behalf of the VKR group. As a global entity with many sister companies, the legal department is entrusted with managing inter-company agreements. Rasmussen and his team are faced with a multi-faceted environment, daily having to overcome a number of diverse issues. This has been possible due to Rasmussen’s initial efforts in transferring the legal department from an isolated holding into an internal “law firm” that is recognised and appreciated by subsidiaries in Denmark and abroad. He introduced and implemented the internal billing procedure which allows the subsidiaries to function in a more structural manner while ensuring the demand for his department’s services remains strong. With more than 25 years with the VK group, Rasmussen has had many moments of achievement. To highlight a few, it would be his great effort in initiating the first Chinese subsidiary at a time when foreign companies were not commonly deployed to set a base in China. Rasmussen should also be credited for his robust approach to anti-trust and competition law compliance program during the aftermath of the EU Commission’s dawn raid. One nominator believes that due to Rasmussen’s extensive knowledge and abundance of experiences he ‘is an important and indispensable sparring partner to the other legal counsel in the VKR Group’.
The Odense Tramway is a construction company with the sole purpose of building the tramway in Odense, therefore the company did not initially invest in a legal department, until about a year and a half ago when Jesper Rasmussen was appointed project director for Area & Rights. With a background as a lawyer at Bech-Brunn, Rasmussen is responsible for securing the legal foundation for the company and currently heads a team of 10 members, four of which are legal and six of which are non-legal advisors. In his role as senior management Rasmussen is, in addition, tasked with managing and directing the project’s advisors and communicating with other project directors, encompassing between 60 and 90 advisors. Despite the recent adaptation of a legal department, under the leadership of Rasmussen, the company has been successful in drafting the Construction Act for Odense in the Danish Parliament and negotiating with the Expropriation Commission with very few changes to the project, a commendable achievement since the project entails building a railway through a city centre. One of Rasmussen’s most challenging tasks as been to manage the 250 properties that are affected by expropriation, with ‘owners ranging from top-professional companies with large legal departments to private owners who have no knowledge about expropriation as such. This requires strong communication skills, and at the same time in debt knowledge about the legal framework’. His strong communication skills dealing with an array of stakeholders and his ability to grow his knowledge of not only legal aspects but other sectors involved in the project is praiseworthy, sources compliment that ‘Jesper has in-depth legal insight and a special talent for strategy and communication. Jesper is assertive and a good manager of people as well as projects’. When asked what he enjoys most about his role at Odense, Rasmussen states that ‘being part of the senior management team allows me to be closer involved in the strategic and day-to-day decisions in the company. Another major plus for me is to be able to lead a high-performing team and setting direction for this work’.
Danske Commodities specialises in trading power, gas and certificates while delivering services to the energy market. When Wendi Ring, now senior legal counsel at Danske Commodities, first joined the company the legal department was small in number and held limited experience of dealing with legal in the energy market, thus relying heavily on external counsel. Ring has played a fundamental role in bringing the legal dealings in-house, she was heavily involved in training new legal counsel and in providing a platform within the legal department to share experiences and grow as a team. The team has now progressed to developing contacts for customised products and negotiating large complex contracts in-house, rather than solely dealing with standard contracts. In order to nurture the growth of knowledge, Ring has taken the initiative to draft guidelines that mandate procedures during contract negotiations, while taking on the responsibility of ensuring that the department are on top of all new and changing regulations that are common to the volatile energy market. She has also enlisted the department with the European Federation of Energy Traders that not only allows for colleague networking but allows the business to benefit from being aware of all new and relevant legislation. Ring’s leadership in developing the team knowledge and expanding the legal department to interact with the business in a constantly changing market is commendable.
Jarle Roar Sæbø is the country counsel and sole in-house counsel for Hewlett-Packard in Norway and Denmark. ‘Overseeing all legal aspects of the business, both contractual and regulatory’ is a challenging role for a sole lawyer. Roar Sæbø says that ‘as sole counsel, I am leveraging from outside counsel to the extent necessary for expertise in areas of law that I myself do not cover’. Roar Sæbø explains that ‘being a Norwegian lawyer, it adds a layer of complexity when I am also overseeing the legal aspects of the Danish business, as Danish laws are quite different within many important areas, such as labor relations, data privacy, intellectual property and public procurement’. Roar Sæbø works extremely hard in order to enable the sales force to self-support in many aspects, since this reduces the need for legal support in individual sales pursuits. ‘I have streamlined the business processes, for example, by ensuring that more of the revenue is generated on HP standard terms and conditions, reducing the need to negotiate new and transaction specific terms and conditions’. Training the sales staff in fundamental contract law has also enabled the sales resources to do a better job, which reduces the need for legal support. He was the local lead on the separation of Hewlett-Packard Company, as part of the global separation of the group. This project was being completed at the same time as he was taking responsibility as country counsel of Hewlett-Packard Enterprises Denmark. He says this was his toughest challenge of the past year: ‘we are proud that all project milestones for my region, without exception, were met with 100 % accuracy throughout the whole separation processes’. On the revenue generating side, Roar Sæbø believes that the most complex cases over the past year have been outsourcing negotiations, global frame agreement negotiations, and software dispute negotiations. He concedes that ‘the international aspects which are part of virtually all deals negotiated in HP, also make matters more demanding and interesting. Budgeting and cost reporting, especially for outside counsel, including cost reductions, have also been implemented’. In addition to his work at Hewlett-Packard, Roar Sæbø is a board member at the Norwegian Association for Computers and Law. He is also Editor in Chief of Lov&Data, a periodical publishing articles about law and technology, and he is chairman of the Norwegian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Board.
Since joining Apoteket in 2005, Anna Rogmark has demonstrated her diverse skill-set during a period where the deregulation of the Swedish pharmaceutical sector led to a downsizing of the company’s operations. Heading an eight-strong team with expertise in the pharmaceutical industry and its regulatory affairs, Rogmark played a significant role in cutting costs and supervising operational downsizing. Committed to ensuring the delivery of a range of support functions to the company, she believes law firms should reflect this by supporting the company acting on all aspects including cost reduction.
Otto Roheim is in charge of the legal operations of the NSB A/S, a group dedicated to managing passenger traffic on trains and buses and freight traffic on railways in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Roheim runs the department differently to other companies, instead of having a large legal department with a number of lawyers located together, the Group has chosen a model where the lawyers are employed by the division of the organisation that they are assisting. During his time as general counsel, Roheim has ensured that the legal team is involved in earlier stages of projects to make sure that the appropriate advice can be given at the best possible time. ‘Previously, NSB lawyers were only involved in the final stages of cases, for example in connection with finalising the entering into of contracts. Now, we are involved at an earlier stage, giving us the opportunity to influence the content of contracts with suppliers or joint venture partners. Having this influence allows the legal team to protect and develop the company in a much more proactive manner’. The change of business operations from a public enterprise to a commercial group has resulted in a different need for legal services. This has meant an increasingly important role for Roheim and his team. Roheim has driven the establishment of licences for NSB A/S, CargoNet A/S and NSB Gjøvikbanen A/S to run railway services within the EU/EØS zone. Furthermore, he has contributed to negotiations and legal quality assurance of the agreement between NSB A/S and the Norwegian State for the delivery of railway passenger transport for the period 2012 – 2017, amounting to over EUR 2 billion; a fundamentally important contract for the company.
The Modern Times Group (MTG) is an international entertainment company dealing in the production, sale and broadcasting of entertainment. Karen Rønde the head of legal and public affairs at MTG brings an ‘interdisciplinary approach that you don’t often come across’. This is owing to Rønde’s multifaceted background not only as a lawyer at Bech-Bruun, but as a journalist and politician, after which she became the first lawyer to join MTG in Demark. Rønde is widely praised for ‘establishing a powerful position for the legal in-house department and is highly respected both internally and by external counsel’. Her main goal for the establishment of the legal department on behalf of MTG was to ensure that the ‘legal department is a business partner and together with the commercial teams, create greater value for the business’. She has been successful in her approach in dealing with disputes that assist the business as a partner rather than solely as a backroom advisor, moreover, she has trained the department in a proactive manner that allows the business to be prepared for when new legislation or practices need to be implemented. Rønde has a vision that allows her to connect all her past experiences to her current role: ‘politics, legislation and disputes are connected and some will get public mention. Since I am deeply involved in all parts, we try to have a common thread in all what we do, and that is to be professional’. Her ability to connect her experiences makes her a fantastic in-house lawyer that has had demonstrable effects on those that interact with her, with one such colleague praising ‘Karen has strong legal competences, an ability to navigate in a highly political environment and is a very skilled communicator’.
Danske Statsbaner (DSB) is an independent public corporation which is run under the Danish Ministry of Transport that manages over 195 million passengers annually and employs an estimated 8,000 members of staff. Mette Rosholm, director of HR and legal, is responsible for all legal matters making sure they run smoothly while demonstrating robust leadership to the 23 employees that report into her. Her managerial skills as head of group legal led to her appointment as the head of group secretary. Time management and compartmentalisation of various projects come easily to Rosholm who, in addition to the already vast number of responsibilities, is also a key board member on a range of companies that operate within the DSB Group. Her background as a lawyer at a leading law firm in Denmark, where she concentrated on maritime law and company law, has assisted her capabilities to successfully convert the legal department into ‘an in-house law firm’. Moreover, her understanding of and respect for team work is admirable as she states that her biggest achievements have been ‘whenever [her] team has been recognised for adding value to any process’. The sentiments are mirrored back by her team with a nominator quoting ‘Mette strikes me as a natural leader who is highly appreciated by her team’. Regardless of the short time span of only 16 months as general counsel at DSB, Rosholm is making her mark and continues to impress those that interact with her across the sector with one such individual stating that ‘Mette consistently impresses me with her legal intellect and her ability to quickly grasp and navigate within the most complex areas of law’.
Yngve Rygh Larsen joined FMC Technologies in 1998 as a legal manager. Since then he has worked through various positions to reach assistant general counsel for Subsea Technologies. He has national and international experience in a vast range of legal areas, such as tax, insurance, commercial and HR. Rygh Larsen has redefined the legal role into a business advisory role, whilst integrating with various parts of the business, providing practical legal advice focused on integrity and core company values. He has established a high performing legal and contracts department under one umbrella with common processes and alignment. When dealing with external counsel, Rygh Larsen looks for firms based on a set of prerequisites, such as price, innovation and risk-reward sharing.
Jan Sandtrø manages a 13-strong team located in Norway, Sweden, Ukraine and India, covering the legal matters of Evry, one of the largest IT companies in the Nordics. Sandtrø headed the establishment of his current team, which have since received the highest satisfaction rating from all internal services within the group of companies. Leading this team, he has implemented contract templates for customers and suppliers and knowledge sharing systems for all areas of the business in order to mitigate legal risks. Moreover, Sandtrø’s routine handling of external counsel has resulted in diminished costs of external instruction. In the last two years, the group has been through a number of major challenges, as it was acquired by private equity fund manager, Apax. ‘Contracts for the majority of the major customers have been negotiated and entered into, and at the same time the legal group has performed with outstanding quality and to great satisfaction to the business areas of the group’. When discussing the challenges of his role Sandtrø concedes that ‘every day is a challenge in supporting the normal day-to-day business when we face major transactions, downsizing, and entering into major contracts with customers and suppliers’. However, these challenges allow Sandtrø to be close to the fast-changing business, a factor that he enjoys the most about his role.
An experienced lawyer, Suvi Sasi-Gouatarbès worked in a number of legal roles prior to joining Lemminkäinen, a Finnish construction and infrastructure company with approximately 1,500 employees. These experiences range from associate level at a law firm to roles at Attorney’s House ANPR. Working as a senior associate at Castrén & Snellman Attorneys, Sasi-Gouatarbès was part of the EU and competition law team, specialising in state aid legislation in addition to handling international and domestic projects. Sasi-Gouatarbès joined Lemminkäinen in August 2010, initially as legal counsel responsible for competition law and public procurement. Sasi-Gouatarbès has risen through the ranks and now serves as head of legal (Infrastructure Projects and Paving) heading a team of two and reporting to the CEO of Lemminkäinen Infra. With expertise in international law, corporate law and governance, Sasi-Gouatarbès enjoys working closely with the business, impacting on its decisions. It is because of this mentality that she has developed and deepened cooperation between the legal team and the business ‘to make the business people understand and realise that law and lawyers should not be considered as obstacles, they can be used as assets in business decisions’.
Peter Schøtt Knudsen has been working in-house for over 14 years, and is currently the vice president, general counsel and global head of legal and IPR for ECCO Holding in Denmark, a company specialising in shoe manufacturing. The team at ECCO is 15-strong, with 10 legal and five non-legal staff overseeing global legal affairs. Schøtt Knudsen jokingly recalls that ‘in the 80s maybe all the lawyers in Denmark could sit in a small office, but now you would need a football arena to fit us all in’. Over the years Schøtt Knudsen has had the chance to experience many policy changing events in the legal sector, taking the Oil-for-Food scandal as one example, where he played a crucial role with anti-piracy laws. He also created compliance programs to ensure that medication sales remained unharmed in the aftermath of the scandal. Since Schøtt Knudsen joined ECCO three years ago and ‘has transformed the department into a truly global unit’. He has achieved this by ensuring that legal pronouncements are unified with managerial decision making while also editing the global reporting line to have a more structural approach. The new shift in ECCO’s focus towards e-Commerce has brought in new ventures for Schøtt Knudsen and his team as they concentrate on consumer products, associate relations to consumers and personal data, all while they continue to tackle the constant challenges of compliance in a global setting. Given Schøtt Knudsen’s ‘unrivalled flair for business’, as quoted by a source from a leading external firm, both ECCO Holding and the legal team are in experienced hands. For his dedication and pivotal role of many years in the in-house sector Schøtt Knudsen more than merits appreciation and acknowledgements for his efforts: ‘I have been part of it from the beginning and it has been great to be a part of this journey’.
Teemu Sipilä was appointed as general counsel in 2010 for VR Group Oy, an environmentally conscious travel and logistics operator wholly owned by the Finnish state. Since joining the Group, Sipilä has established a ‘well-functioning legal department’ that contributes to the company’s success. After renewing the entire operational and organisational model for the legal department, which included hiring four out of the five lawyers, Sipilä now heads a team of seven. Like many other general counsel, Sipilä would like to see law firms improve on cost efficiency and understanding of their client’s business.
Astrid Skjønborg Brunt has over 25 years’ experience in the electricity industry, 15 years of which have been in leading a law department at Statnett. Since starting at Statnett, she has increased the number of in-house lawyers from three to 14, whereby she has given a specialisation for each lawyer or group of lawyers. She focuses on empowering her team and giving them key account roles and business units along with further education, in particular negotiations, in the electricity industry. She has developed and implemented a sourcing strategy for external lawyers and corporate governance and corporate social responsibility awareness and principles. Skjønborg Brunt focuses on the efficient use of legal advice by 90% prevention and only 10% litigation and conflict work, making a big difference in terms of time investment by the legal team. ‘To notice that the legal advice is trusted, even when it is untraditional and challenging is a personal achievement. Then it is followed by success, thereby avoiding significant loss of money, time and status’.
Working for over seven years as legal and business affairs manager for Sony Music Entertainment Denmark, makes Tine Skytte Holm the longest serving senior officer for the Group’s Danish entity. An external lawyer remarks that because of her time with the company that ‘the group’s corporate memory is for a significant part vested with her’. She demonstrates a range of skill sets that allow her to navigate the complex environment often associated with media production, while taking into consideration the internationality of the company. Skytte Holm is trusted to administer large contract portfolios with artists while guarding IP rights and liaising with external counsel on behalf of Sony Music Entertainment. She works closely with the creative artists to ensure all legal issues are concluded on time while ensuring that the company’s business models comply with the law. As the only lawyer in the Danish holding, Skytte Holm has had to rely solely on her own judgement based on her business and legal experiences and she has done so in a successful and admirable manner. Her success is owed to her understanding of the business, she says ‘working as an in-house lawyer in a record company, where creativity comes first and foremost, you must have political flair and a good sense of empathy. In my position you need to be pragmatic and legally creative’. Skytte Holm’s assortment of tasks does not end there as she is also the liaison between the company’s European and global legal teams. Having to work under complex situations that are often covered with media attention, in a sector that has gone through significant transformations, encouraged by the technology revolution, is where Skytte Holm flourishes.
A legal counsel for over seven years at NCC Housing AB and then head of department for four years, Danne Stattin had already built significant experience in contract negotiation and construction management before being appointed as general counsel for NCC Construction AB. Now heading an 11-strong team at NCC Construction, one of the region’s largest construction companies, Stattin has implemented innovations by shifting the focus in his team from contract to business law. Requiring a legal department that wants to ‘take part in a journey from construction lawyer to business lawyer’, in order to deliver company expectations, Stattin has built a team that pushes development, wants to collaborate and has the ability to influence and reach out within the company with strategic understanding.
Recognised for her expertise in strategy and delivering first class work, Christine Strindberg is a ‘deal closer’ and plays a key role in the outcome of important negotiations for Modern Times Group (MTG), making the legal aspects understandable for non-lawyer colleagues. Strindberg is a proactive and innovative head of legal at MTG; she not only built the legal department from the ground up, but is committed to continuously improving its skills and relationship with the company. During her time at MTG, she has introduced regular training and development for team members through workshops, and encouraged them to attend relevant legal events and seminars. She also delivers internal legal education and seminars to the business and has introduced a standardised internal preparation exercise before each big negotiation or meeting to ensure the best possible outcome for the business. An excellent team manager, Strindberg ensures the team are able to meet business demands by holding regular meetings within the rest of the company. The constant communication guarantees workloads are manageable and achieve an optimum allocation of resources. This has integrated the team deeper into the business, ‘ensuring that the legal function can serve as an actual business and legal affairs partner, not just a reactive control function’.
After seven and a half successful years as senior associate at law firm, Advokatfirman Lindahl, Helena Strömbeck joined One Nordic AB in September 2010 as general legal counsel. One Nordic is the leading supplier of technical services, maintenance services and contracting services in the Nordic region, helping energy producers, suppliers and users optimise their facilities. Strömbeck enjoys the close business relationship that the role offers: ‘my five years in the role has been both challenging and very rewarding. I did not imagine it would be this exciting when I left Lindahl’. Now heading a team of four, Strömbeck established One Nordic’s legal function and processes, enabling the business to value its legal input. With expertise in corporate, contract and competition law as well as dispute resolution, she works to minimise disputes as well as contractual and business risks, in part by educating colleagues in business and construction law.
Sarah Tähkälä previously worked as a partner at top Nordic law firm Hannes Snellman, where she was head of employment and also specialised in mergers and acquisitions. In January 2010, she was appointed vice president of Legal for the Paulig Group, a family-owned international enterprise in the food industry that has almost 2,000 employees in 13 countries. Tähkälä has been tasked with the coordination of all legal matters, managing a team of six employees and controlling any work that is outsourced to external law firms. In addition, she created and implemented group policies and practices in different areas such as intellectual property and approval procedures. As a management team member for the group she has led a number of strategic projects and she provides input into the most important business decisions. Tähkälä has had a pivotal role in the structural changes supporting the Group strategy, especially with regard to the divestment of two divisions and obtaining full control over the Group’s current companies.
Bjørn Terje Smistad has worked at Statskog, a state-owned enterprise responsible for the management of state-owned forest and mountain real estate, for the past 10 years. Terje Smistad is an expert barrister, and believes that it is fundamental for internal lawyers to have the knowledge and understanding of how the court will assess the merits of a case. ‘During my 10 years in Statskog I have recruited one barrister and had five associates of which three today are barristers and two are nearly qualified barristers’. He assists Statskog’s divisions and management with legal advice and litigates various cases. ‘Our ambition is to work integrated with Statskog’s business areas. We take cases to court and prepare to go all the way to Supreme Court’. He also focuses on strengthening relations to other specialists within their field such as other legal departments (within other land and forest owners in Norway and Sweden), organisations, law firms and universities. He has actively participated in changing the level of compensation for landowners in cases of expropriation of waterfalls for development of hydropower and determined what level of compensation should apply. ‘Our participation in this process has been litigating the first case in Norway where the district court accepted this method to calculate compensation’. Terje Smistad successfully assisted other landowners, in which two took their case to Supreme Court, in 2008 and 2011. ‘We also have litigated other cases concerning landowner issues in conjunction with development of both hydropower and wind power. Compensation is due to this new method increased with up to a 100 times preceding level’. Terje Smistad also negotiated compensation for expropriation of forest for Norwegian nature reserves. The state was the counterparty in these cases, adding an extra layer of complexity. Over 300,000 acres have been affected, and compensation reached approximately NOK 300 million. ‘This winter I assisted the board of directors writing a report to the owner of Statskog SF, the agriculture Minister, concerning privatisation of ownership to the national forests. As project leader I had a challenging job, coordinating 11 subprojects and putting the deliveries together in a consistent report’. His personal career highlight is being admitted as a barrister to the Supreme Court and to participate in discussions with parties in several cases, for the Supreme Court and later the case before The European Court of Human Rights, in June 2012, between Lindheim and others v Norway concerning The Ground Lease Act. ‘I find it interesting and motivating to work with current issues, and to have almost the whole country as a workspace’.
Åke Theblin spent almost 13 years at Kungsleden, a listed property company, before moving to Peab Projektutveckling AB as head of legal in February 2014. An experienced and knowledgeable property lawyer, Theblin has worked on several transactions with a property value of over EUR 100 million. One of his biggest achievements has been working on transactions that established Hemsö, Sweden’s leading private owner of properties for community services. As part of the management team when at Kungsleden and now at Peab Projektutveckling AB, another leading construction and civil engineering company with 13,000 employees and a net sale exceeding SEK 43 billion, Theblin is recognised in the industry for enabling the legal team to be a real contributor to the business.
Having practised for almost 20 years, Åsa Thunman is a lawyer experienced in a diverse range of sectors. She spent three years at Lagerlöf & Leman law firm (1996–1999), before moving in-house to Elekta AB, a company that provides technology and solutions to treating cancer and brain disorders. Thunman spent 10 years at Elektra AB holding several leading positions, including general counsel. She contributed to building an efficient, business minded legal function during a period when Elektra experienced substantial growth and strategically acquired software companies. After that she started work at Securitas Group, a company that develops security services technology, in 2009, serving as general counsel from 2011 until 2014. In addition to her position at Securitas, Thunman was a member of the board of directors of the Scania Group, a heavy goods vehicle manufacturer, serving as chairman of the independent committee when Volkswagen made a successful EUR 6.7 billion public bid for the company in 2014. Thunman joined Sandvik AB Holding, a global high-technology engineering group for industrial products, in 2014. Thunman is working on building structure and stability at Sandvik in addition to developing a more business supportive 140 colleague-strong legal function that can achieve compliance and governance stability in close cooperation with the business. Explaining her philosophy Thunman says, ‘coming up with solutions and creating structures that at the same time support and protect the business at the correct level of risk’ is one of the most enjoyable aspects of her role.
Riikka Tieaho joined Nokia, the multinational communications and information technology company, in 1999. She held a number of legal counsel and legal director positions in the company, including a role as a sales and marketing lawyer in both Europe and Africa for Nokia’s Devices & Services business. In addition Tieaho acted as the Board secretary before being promoted to her current role of vice president, corporate legal, in April 2012. An international lawyer, in 2013 Tieaho obtained experience in a top New York City law firm when she worked at Clearly Gottlieb for six months after successfully completing her LLM at New York University. Tieaho now leads a team of 27, who are responsible for a full range of Nokia’s legal requirements as a New York and Helsinki stock exchange listed company. Her responsibilities cover corporate and securities law, corporate governance, finance law, equity plans, legal entity management, trademarks and records management. One of her most notable achievements has been to create a flexible and proactive mentality in the legal team, allowing them to adapt to the demands of the changing company profile and culture. Nokia has undergone significant changes during Tieaho’s time as vice president. As a specialist in corporate legal work and in her role as the corporate secretary, she played an integral role in facilitating its biggest recent deals, including the USD 7.2 billion sale of its Devices & Services business to Microsoft in 2013 and USD 1.9 billion buyout of Siemens in the same year. In April 2015 she worked on the USD 8.8 billion capital market transaction with Alcatel-Lucent and is currently working with her team to implement the deal.
Rolf Tjugum has worked at GIEK for his entire career. Since he started seven years ago, he has been promoted to deputy director and now deputy legal director. Although he does not have employees report directly to him, he is a mentor for the legal team and he supports them when difficulties arise. Tjugum works on cases ranging from USD 1 million to USD 1 billion, with oil and gas fulfilling 80-90% of his portfolio. The importance of his cases means that he gets ‘to work together with the top lawyers and advisors within their field’. During his career, GIEK has developed from a traditional export credit agency, guaranteeing sovereign risk and a few project finance deals with very limited bank participation to becoming, in terms of exposure, one of the largest banks with respect to financing of offshore vessels. ‘Financing of a ship is far more complicated than lending to the ministry of finance and it therefore became apparent that our guarantee products and approach to the loan documentation needed to change. We decided to participate in the documentation process ourselves with the aim of taking a similar role as any other participating bank in a syndicate’. His decision to become more involved in the loan documentation and the new buyer credit guarantee were big steps and he believes that this has made it easier to have a good dialogue with the other involved parties, ultimately producing better results all around.
Signe Toft recently joined SYBO Games in June 2015 as their general counsel. Sybo is a company which produces mobile games and is still at a young stage of development but deals with high revenue and a fast paced growth rate. Sybo are fortunate to have gained a talented lawyer in Toft who, based on her previous role, demonstrates a strong skill set in setting up a legal department while integrating them through the entire value chain of the company. Within her early weeks of joining Sybo, Toft successfully grasped the attention of senior management and founders to liaise with them her vision of the legal department and the value it will bring for the company. Before going in-house she worked at one of Denmark’s largest law firms for almost 10 years, with many years of diverse experiences. Her previous role was with North Media, a company established in 1965 and the only listed media group in Denmark. The North Media legal department was previously isolated and located off the physical premises of the business. The inclusion of Toft as head of legal for the company came with many changes that sparked an increase of legal-business interactions. She moved the legal department to the business premises and created a persona of the legal department that was, and still is, welcomed by the business on all matters concerned. The legal department, under the commendable leadership of Toft, overcame its days of ‘firefighting and solving conflicts’ to portray admirable process optimisation in contract management and expanded its activities to ‘pursuing business opportunities’. A reference states that ‘it is only due to Signe Toft’s special abilities and drive that the legal department of North Media today stands out as an example for all to follow’. Having made a pivotal and long lasting transformation at North Media we can expect nothing less from Toft’s efforts to follow in her role at SYBO Games. ‘She has proved that she can navigate between strong personalities at the top level and get through her ideas and recommendations. She absolutely deserves this recognition’.
Tuomas Toivonen joined Nordea Bank Finland in 2008 after working as an attorney at Finnish law firm Borenius & Kemppinen. He has wide experience and is able to drive processes and manage transactions in a professional and enthusiastic manner. His expert work at the bank has earned him recognition from peers in the industry, with a leading partner of an international law firm stating that ‘Tuomas has had a significant role in creating innovative legal structures in the Finnish High Yield Bond market’. His professional highlights include the legal structuring of the first Finnish secured bond and the first Finnish bank-bond transaction. He also had a leading role in initiating the upcoming Finnish bond agency legislation and negotiating and co-drafting the new Finnish Covered Bond legislation. ‘In the current ever-changing banking environment it has been very challenging from a lawyer´s point of view to structure new instruments for the client´s needs, to fit within the time window on the market and on the other hand to fit the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV) for the Banks in a profitable manner’.
Anu Tuomola joined Citycon, a leading Nordic and Baltic region shopping centre owner and manager, in 2011. Tuomola joined Citycon after gaining private practice experience for six years as a partner at Castrén & Snellman Attorneys. During this time she spent seven months seconded to Allen & Overy between 2006 and 2007 and also spent over two years at Nordea Bank and Merilampi Marttila Laitasalo Attorneys, as legal counsel and senior associate respectively. Specialising in mergers and acquisitions, real estate and corporate law among others, Tuomola heads a team of three and is responsible for establishing a business partner-like relationship with the company. ‘We enable, not prevent; we are proactive, not reactive; we provide solutions, not problems’. Tuomola has also delivered an enhanced availability of legal services and support for the company’s operations in eight European countries, despite only having personnel in one country. In addition she has significantly enhanced the department’s response times, ‘we guarantee same day response’ she says. Among her achievements, Tuomola has overseen the transformation of the company’s legal affairs from a pure compliance and governance unit into business partner unit that is appreciated throughout the company. She has also overseen the introduction and implementation of an effective internal code of conduct and whistleblowing procedure, including achieving full commitment of entire personnel and training all employees. Citycon operates in a market that, like many others, is becoming heavily regulated. Tuomola has been able to deliver legal support to manage the increase in work volume and legal complexity under tight cost pressure. As a member of the company’s corporate management committee, she is also able to participate and influence in strategic decisions that affect the whole company.
Mari Tyster has worked at Municipality Finance for the past six years, now heading a seven-strong team made up of legal counsel, paralegals and human resource assistants. Since the financial crisis, the company has experienced significant growth which has meant new challenges for the legal department, especially due to huge reform of financial banking regulations. ‘For this reason all legal counsel in our company, including myself, have a much more defined and expert role than in the past. Each legal counsel has a specific internal department as their internal client and is responsible for their business-related legal matters’. Tyster has thrived having the opportunity to work with continuously evolving financial regulations and manages daily legal matters, spanning multiple sectors from corporate legal issues to challenging IT law related projects, for a company which operates on financial capital markets. She has developed internal processes continuously, especially related to transaction documentation processes to make the progression more efficient. ‘The current small organisation combined with significant business volumes and balance sheet makes it possible to be part of interesting development while seeing the results in practice’. Her influence has not stopped within the realm of her company though, and she has been taking steps to drive change in the wider financial sector. ‘On my employer's behalf, I have been active in different financial regulation lobbying efforts at national and EU level but also coordinated internal implementation projects of new financial regulation coming into force’.
Conti Group, one of the world’s leading owners of container vessels, bulk carriers and tankers, has served the logistics industry for over 45 years, building long lasting relations with business partners across the globe. Dr. Nikolaus Ukert is in charge of the company’s legal profile through his role as the vice president and general counsel, where he heads a team of three legal and three non-legal personnel. He joined the Conti Group when ‘the legal department was a one man show and legal was mainly outsourced’. Upon joining the Conti Group Ukert sourced the legal work back in-house, except in major cases of litigation and arbitration. With his strong capabilities of negotiation and troubleshooting, the Conti Group has so far been successful in dealing with important cases of international reference in-house. Ukert has turned the tables of the legal department at Conti, while serving the business in a more time and monetary efficient manner. As an esteemed general counsel Ukert advises external law firms ‘to remember to think economically, to be creative and to solve problems’.
Shifting the legal department from ‘reactive to pro-active in the years following a financial crisis in the banking industry in Denmark, has been a great challenge’, explains Svend Ulrik Riis, general counsel at Handelsbanken. He met this challenge head on and attained, in return for his efforts in leadership, a legal department that is easily able to navigate the constantly changing waters of legislation while incorporating the importance of the business’ understanding of the legal actions. Ulrik Riis’s robust leadership skills are prominent as he works with a five-strong team, developing them into a core unit that is appreciated and respected for their business minded legal solutions. Over his years of experience he successfully pilots the ‘many different angles on the legal aspects you encounter in a bank’. One external lawyer is quoted saying Ulrik Riis is a ‘pleasant individual’ who is ‘easy to work with’ and he is further praised as a ‘talented legal practitioner, [who] at the same time displays a matchless capability to apply the law in a highly business-oriented context’.
Snorre Valdimarsson created the legal department at Scatec Solar from scratch, however he was the only in-house lawyer for the first few years. Since then ‘the idea has been to create a dynamic group that are experts within the legal fields in which the Scatec Solar group has ventures’. The Scatec Solar group develop, structure debt finance, fund, construct and own and operate plants generating solar power. ‘We are an independent power producer that also creates value by developing and constructing the power plants’. An example of the international role that the legal team plays can be seen in a project in South Africa; Valdimarsson had a pivotal role in structuring and developing all agreements related to construction, operating, developing and selling of power for the largest solar power plant in South Africa, with a total capital expenditure of EUR 180 million. Additionally, he structured the deal for one of the largest solar power plants in the US with tax equity funding, with Prudential and Google as lender and tax investor. When working with external counsel, Valdimarsson looks for a firm that can provide practical solutions rather than simply presenting him with problems. He appreciates the direct approach and confidence of firms, instead of being given numerous possibilities or scenarios.
Maija Vartiainen joined IF P&C Insurance Company in August 2010 after gaining over 11 and half years of experience as attorney at law at Dittmar & Indredius. Drawing on her experiences, Vartiainen frequently leads cross-functional teams around various projects and brings a service-minded approach by encouraging her team to proactively understand the company business and drop unnecessary legalese. Due to the data intensive business model of insurance companies, upcoming European data protection legislation is set to have a huge effect on the entire industry. Recognised for her expertise, over the past two years Vartiainen has been heavily involved with the legislative work through the Federation of Financial Services in Finland, and participated in the legal coordination of upcoming implementation within the company at the Nordic level. She says ‘selling our ideas, getting the leaders’ input and acceptance, as well as huge awareness and training effort directed for all employees, have been a great challenge but also extremely rewarding’.
Novozymes, a company that is pioneering on industrial biotechnology, with a strong focus on enzyme production, has legal departments located across the globe. Mikkel Viltoft is the general counsel with 12 lawyers and two paralegals reporting into him and has been with the company since 2004. The Denmark based company is fast growing and operates in a complex legal regiment that leaves little room for error and it is in this environment that Viltoft thrives. Under his leadership the legal department won the 2015 corporate attorney category under the Association of Danish Company Lawyers and Kromann Reumert. The prize money was donated to the charity Lawyers Without Borders. Viltoft has introduced many changes to the legal layout at Novozymes that has allowed legal to interact with business units ultimately resulting in higher customer satisfaction. According to one recommendation ‘Mikkel Viltoft has a brilliant way of handling legal matters expediently and with a view to the commercial reality in which he operates’. Over Viltoft’s time as general counsel, the company has implemented targeted legal support to each business unit using the global legal department and they have managed to reduce the global annual legal costs as a percentage of the global sales to below the benchmark for the chemical industry. Viltoft’s in-house legal activities are complimented by one source stating that ‘Mikkel Viltoft is very rightly a highly valued asset at Novozymes, an integral part of operations’.
‘What I enjoy most about my role at BAT is that because of the environment in which the company operates, and the way it is structured, it allows the lawyers to be part of the business and be part of developing the strategic agenda of the company. I thoroughly enjoy being able to combine my legal skills with the commercial agenda’, articulates Christina Wagner. As head of legal and external affairs at British American Tobacco in Denmark, Wagner currently leads a team of six proactive employees that are well integrated into the business. She takes a unique approach to ensure that legal and business are managing this integration. Bringing innovation to leadership, Wagner has introduced the concept of a ‘mobile team’ where some days of the week the legal members sit together and other days they locate to varying departments throughout the business. ‘This helps the integration of the team and its members into the business, because more than anything they know who each other are and how they work’. As head of legal she is responsible for ensuring that the legal risk is understood across multiple jurisdictions and within regional and local laws. Wagner’s biggest achievement has been to become a trusted partner, her ability to speak law in a business language allows her to provide BAT with solid, balanced advice. As an innovative and business savvy lawyer capable of thinking outside the box, Wagner warrants acknowledgement. One commentator states that ‘Christina is the definition of a fighter. She is extremely committed, highly skilled and stops only when the goal is reached. She never gives up’.
Since being appointed as the first in-house counsel of the ASSA ABLOY Group, a market leading electromechanical security provider in 2004, Jacob Wahlberg now heads a team of eight lawyers as general counsel. Together with his colleagues he has built the legal function of the group, working closely with the business on transactions in a variety of ways. With expertise in intellectual property, joint ventures and mergers, he handles some of the company’s most important work. Some notable work includes a public bid on Cardo AB in 2010/2011 and the subsequent trade sale of non-core assets, completing the work in an eight month period from the announcement of the bid to the closing of the last trade sale. In 2014, Wahlberg played a significant role in the ASSA ABLOY Group’s securing of 20 acquisitions.
With over 30 years of experience, Olle Wallén is a seasoned general counsel with an impressive range of expertise in all major areas of business law including company law, M&A, contracts and litigation management. He is fluent in Swedish, English, German and has a working knowledge of French; each of which has proved useful over the course of his career. Prior to moving in-house, Wallén worked as a junior prosecutor for the Stockholm Prosecutor’s Office in the late 1970s and as a junior judge at Stockholm District Court, handling various criminal and civil matters in the process. He also served Styrbjörn Gärdes Attorneys as an attorney admitted to the Swedish Bar between 1980 and 1985. After gaining in-house experience at Nordstjernan AB as corporate counsel, then at NCC International AB as general counsel, Wallén joined Electrolux Home Products Inc. in July 1993. He stayed at Electrolux for the next 12 and a half years, working as corporate counsel (six years), senior vice president and general counsel for North America (two years) and senior vice president legal affairs in Europe (four years). In the process he handled major M&A transactions during the restructuring of Electrolux from a conglomerate to a white goods specialist. Wallén joined the world’s largest producer of outdoor power products, Husqvarna, in January 2006. Setting up the legal function from scratch, after Husqvarna was spun off from a larger entity, he now heads a 29-strong team. With a ‘resourceful’ and ‘inventive’ approach, Wallén established the strategy for the function ensuring consistency whilst allowing for flexible changes when needed. Wallén also established global coverage of the legal function for Husqvarna AB and its subsidiaries which span over 40 countries, whilst handling several major lawsuits in the US and Europe. His strategy has enabled the legal function to support the company on matters facing the day-to-day business, as well as some unexpected challenges. Reflecting his speciality in building, restructuring and managing legal departments, Wallén says ‘all services provided by the legal affairs team need to focus on prioritisation from the business point of view, follow company strategies and policies, and never cease to look for a more efficient way to contribute to the company's bottom line’. With such a breadth of experience and expertise, it not surprising that he sat as chairman of the Group's Sustainability Council and was secretary to the board of directors. Wallén retired in August 2015, but still acts in an advisory capacity.
From being the sole in-house counsel to battling with potential bankruptcy, Christian Wang Schumacher has faced a range of challenges since he joined SAS Norge A/S in 2010. Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) was founded in 1946, originally divided into SAS Denmark, SAS Norge and SAS Sweden all owned in 50-50 partnership between private investors and their respective governments. As general counsel and the only lawyer for the company, Wang Schumacher is responsible for all legal aspects, including worldwide data security, privacy and anti-bribery. Since he arrived, all routine work that would have been handed over to external counsel is now done in-house. At the point of nearly being bankrupt in 2012, SAS was in need of major restructuring. ‘There are two major circumstances that has had a great significance and impact on my work as SAS Norge's sole counsel. The restructuring of SAS involved divesting the SAS Group airline company Widerøe's Flyveselskap A/S, sell or exit from all non-core airline business in SAS and liquidating companies in the SAS Group, managing and solving substantial M&A challenges’. As well as his sometimes intense role at SAS, Wang Schumacher also has a large amount of external responsibilities and activities. He has established a networking forum for sole counsel in Norway, using external law firms to facilitate. The forum consists of approximately 12 sole counsel, who meet quarterly to discuss the difficulties of being the only lawyer within their respective companies. Wang Schumacher’s dedication and hard work have allowed this group to create a best practice sharing forum, helping them all to learn from each other and ultimately improve their offerings to their companies. Wang Schumacher also holds a trustee position for the Disciplinary Committee of the Norwegian Bar Association. On this committee he takes on complaints about individual lawyers, their ethical behaviour and monitoring of their fees, having a genuine impact on the wider legal industry.
Wärtsilä is a global manufacturer and service provider of power sources in the marine and energy markets. Tim Williams was promoted to area counsel for the Middle East and Asia in August 2015, after eight years as corporate counsel for the company. As corporate counsel he managed a multilingual team of four in Houston and Rio de Janeiro, from his base in Helsinki. Despite the logistics of this arrangement, Williams has embedded a ‘truly collegial atmosphere’ in the department. He says ‘if a colleague in the legal function calls with an urgent request for support – anything from a point of law to a brainstorming session on a project structure – then our duty is to assist and support so that our business colleagues get the best possible advice combined with solid, actionable advice and pragmatic solutions’. Williams and his team were required to help structure, negotiate and close deals all over the world. One of his biggest achievements was closing the project financing for Wärtsilä’s biggest project ever, a near EUR 200 million order from Brazil. Williams’ personal philosophy is that counsel should not be content with being ‘close to the business’, but should ensure they are actually part of the business. He continues by saying ‘the individual lawyers in the legal function are always integral members of the cross-functional teams responsible for securing the business on a project by project basis’.
As senior vice president, corporate counsel and compliance officer at the world’s leading insurance broker and risk advisor company, Marsh, Anne Worm-Peterson is praised for her ‘unique ability for making the complex less complex’ and her ‘sharp legal assessment combined with a practical and business-oriented approach’. Worm-Peterson has been pivotal in changing the role of the legal department ‘from a controller to a facilitator and consultant’, while closing the cultural and legal gap between the USA’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) environment and the Scandinavian leadership ethic. In addition to her capabilities to overcome cross-culture differences, Worm-Peterson places heavy weighting on empowering her colleagues to make decisions on business risks with legal implications, rather than to rely solely on procedures. Worm-Peterson is a robust in-house lawyer with a deep commercial understanding of the company and commendable leadership characterises under which she allows her team members to take on responsibilities and grow individually for the better of the entire team.
We are pleased to congratulate the General Counsels who have been admitted to The Legal 500’s GC Powerlist: Nordics. General Counsels are to an increasing extent faced with new and additional demands. It is a role requiring constant development and adaptability.
At Bech-Bruun, we are happy to help facilitate the framework for the very first GC Powerlist: Nordics and we wish to congratulate both the nominated general counsels and of course in particular the counsels who made it on the list.
It requires a varied and diverse set of skills to act as General Counsel. First and foremost you must have a broad legal skill base and the ability to clearly communicate legal insight in order for the company’s management and business units to be able to understand and utilise it. But the role as General Counsel is changing. This became very clear in an analysis conducted by Bech-Bruun in the fall of 2015.
The provision of legal advice is still the primary function of the general counsel, but the role also demands insight into a number of new areas. General Counsels are to an increasing degree involved in the companies’ strategic discussions and in new business initiatives where they function as the legal sparring partner to the management and help identify potential problems.
At Bech-Bruun, we have strong and good working relationships with many of the best General Counsels in Denmark. Working relationships which we value highly and find very important as General Counsels have contributed to professionalising companies’ approach to both law and compliance. This has resulted in a more proactive approach to the handling of legal issues, meaning that potential challenges to a higher degree are handled earlier and before becoming actual problems. There is no doubt that General Counsels are a crucial asset to companies.
However, we also know that many General Counsels want to become better at showing how they create value for the company or the organisation. And that many counsels enquire supplementary skills in line with the changes occurring to the role of General Counsel. Consequently, we have developed a training programme tailored for General Counsels, which has been created on the basis of our analysis of the specific demands of the future. This programme has been developed in order to help General Counsels prepare for the new challenges and to lay the foundation for success for the counsels, their employees and the company as a whole.
We are looking forward to continuing our good working relationships with the many General Counsels we work with on a daily basis and of course also to meet the ones we have not had the pleasure of working with.
And once again; a big congratulations for everyone on this year’s GC Powerlist: Nordics.
Simon Evers Kalsmose-Hjelmborg
When the The Legal 500 called and asked whether we would like to be involved in the publication of Finland’s first GC Powerlist, it wasn’t hard to answer yes. Throughout my long career, I have served as the right hand to many general counsel, and I have a great respect for the work they do. It feels wonderful that now, through GC Powerlist, we will be able to shed light on the great contribution general counsel make to the success of the companies they serve.
The world is changing rapidly. The companies that were on top at the start of my career looked very different to the ones on top today. New companies are being started every day, and they are growing and going global at an increasingly rapid pace. The tough challenges—and hot opportunities—in companies today include compliance, governance, privacy and data security.
It has been a long time since general counsel could be satisfied with just looking after their own back yard. Being a general counsel today calls for an wide understanding of the business of one’s own company as well as of the megatrends that will unavoidably alter the landscape companies operate in—whether they like it or not. Curiosity and enthusiasm for new things are more important traits for lawyers than ever, regardless of whether you are an attorney or an in-house counsel.
My experience is that the best ideas are created by innovating together, by joining forces to create a vision. Co-innovation has brought an entirely new twist to my own work. It is a great feeling to see the spark of enthusiasm in you client’s eye and to have helped feed their curiosity towards the future.
The opportunities of digitalisation—a megatrend that is affecting businesses across the board—is an area for development that is shared by both law firms and in-house teams. According to Radiant Law’s recent study, more than three-quarters (78%) of general counsel lack separate budgets for process and technology services, despite exactly the same percentage identifying a ‘compelling need’ for them. Nonetheless, two-thirds of GCs had invested in process or technology with an external supplier in the last two years.
The same trend can be seen in law firms. We are digitising our operations and have turned a keen ear to the thoughts general counsel have about how we can find entirely new ways of doing things in the future.
Finally, let me congratulate all of you who made it onto the GC Powerlist. You are rock-solid trailblazers in your field!
Castrén & Snellman
There is an emerging shift towards international trends concerning the role of the General Counsel and law firms. The new General Counsel is expected to combine legal aspects with commercial viable solutions. In turn, the demand and necessity for innovation, commercial thinking and knowledge sharing between the law firms and General Counsels is growing. In addition, procurement of legal services is becoming increasingly more diverse and complex. We anticipate these challenges will accelerate in the coming years, putting pressure on law firms to apply fresh thinking to old habits.
Daily, Selmer's lawyers engage with extremely capable and knowledgeable General Counsels and corporate legal departments. We experience, first-hand, the great number of Norwegian General Counsels who possess an exceptionally high level of expertise on an international scale. It is in this matter a great pleasure to now have the opportunity to acknowledge their achievements and expertise, in partnership with the renowned brand Legal 500.
Throughout Selmer's short history we have striven to work in innovative ways, constantly among the first to adopt new ideas. We are committed to finding solutions to new market trends in order to meet the requirements and needs of our current and future clients, many of which we hope to celebrate at the GC Powerlist event.
We are truly proud to be selected as The Legal 500's GC Powerlist partner in Norway and look forward to welcoming you to the event.
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GC Powerlist is a trading name of The Legal 500 Series and Legalease Ltd, and operates in multiple legal jurisdictions world wide.