Interview: Emma Moloney, General Counsel at Endemol Shine

What does it take to succeed as an in-house lawyer? Read Emma’s story.

​General Counsel at Endemol Shine, the global media company headquartered in Amsterdam, Emma Moloney was named in The Lawyer’s Hot 100 for 2016, “a lovely moment as I am a New Zealander and at least one other lawyer who trained at Allens was also on the list. It was funny to both be there”.

She started her career in Sydney with Allens and following a secondment to Foxtel, the Australian cable TV company, she subsequently gained further exposure to the media industry while working for multinational law firm, Ashurst, in London. By this point, she was ready to make the move in-house, which she duly did with National Geographic Channel.

Why did you decide to make the move in-house?

EM: I love the pace and energy of being in-house in a business, the variety of work, seeing how things turn out (the ultimate feedback) and working with people with lots of different perspectives and skills. It is great to be in TV and see shows where you have been part of the deal team up on billboards or hear people talking about them.

What are the biggest challenges of your job?

EM: As a General Counsel, it is ensuring the legal team partners with the business and deliver what it needs while managing risk. The role is very varied which I enjoy but the challenge is to know who to call on issues that you may not have faced before. Of course, managing people and legal teams is incredibly rewarding but like with any leadership role, it has its moments!

What’s the key to partnering effectively with other business leaders?

EM: Listening. Seriously. Not rushing out the door at the end of meetings as a lot of discussions happen afterwards (it took me a while to realise this). And being there for them.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

EM: I really love innovation and the challenge of staying relevant and up to date and getting the best out of people.

You now live and work in Amsterdam. What’s special about the city?

EM: It is very charming, you can cycle everywhere and it is smaller than London. I never thought I would say that I would enjoy that (perhaps that is age). The museums, ballet and opera are all fabulous and on a sunny day everyone is outside drinking coffee on the terraces of cafés – it is a lovely way to live. The Dutch live well, which is inspiring.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to move from say London?

EM: I wasn’t looking for a role outside the UK. But what made it easier to say yes to is that Amsterdam is a beautiful city, lots of people speak English (and are very kind about it) and it is a short flight back to London. My start here was made a lot easier because of brilliant relocation assistance and I rented an apartment soon after arriving – much nicer than staying in a hotel for an extended period.

Is there any local legal industry knowledge that you might need? Language barrier?

EM: Most of my team in Amsterdam are Dutch trained so I rely on them for Dutch law issues. I am learning Dutch but my team all have to speak English because that is the language that the company (which has a presence in 30 different countries) communicates in. I am finding learning Dutch hard but it is worthwhile – my aim is to be able to ask everyone how their weekend was and understand the answer.

How would you define your management style? What makes a great leader?

EM: It is hard to define your own leadership style (or indeed how others find it) but I try to lead by example, be fair (same information for everyone as an example), nudge people into the right spot for them where they can thrive and deal with difficult issues honestly and appropriately. I also try to be kind (you catch more flies with honey than vinegar!). Great leaders do the right thing, inspire people to follow them and allow the space and support for their team to thrive.

How do you see the role of the GC evolving over the next 10 years?

EM: I think that more and more people will realise that you have to be a generalist and it is not just knowledge but great skills that are required. So not so different from other colleagues on the Board or Exec team. I think compliance will come more to the fore given the cost when things go wrong.

Becoming a successful in-house lawyer – Emma’s top tips:

  • Realise that the transition from private practice to in-house is a significant one

  • You will need to change and perhaps require some support to make it successful

  • Remember to keep learning and stay up to date

  • Keep up with your network and check what others are doing in terms of:

    • Managing their teams

    • Dealing with new legal issues

    • Managing the business

“They can be a lifeline and a source of great ideas,” she says.

Key attributes needed

Energy, ambition and ‘get up and go’. Good training and an aptitude for change.

Posted almost 7 years ago

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