Candice Ota is a partner in White & Case Melbourne’s Project Development and Finance group. In this article, Candice takes a look back on her career to date and discusses the important role mentors have played in her career.
White & Case is the perfect firm for my international legal experience
I started at White & Case in January 2017 when the Firm first opened an office in Australia. I knew the Firm well from my time living and working in New York and particularly for its reputation as a global leader in project finance. Since I practice both New York law and Australian law, I thought working at White & Case would be perfect for my skillset.
Having a diverse group of mentors is really important
I've benefited from many different mentors who have helped me at different stages of my career. Mentors don't need to only be people within the legal industry, I would count some (non-lawyer) family members as my mentors. They are people who you can learn from, lean on and ultimately receive guidance and different perspectives from.
Sponsors play an important role in shaping your career
I think it's important not to just have mentors, but to look for sponsors—these are the people who are going to help advance your career. I was fortunate enough to take part in a sponsorship program for women at White & Case a few years ago. It was there that I learned about the importance of sponsorship and benefitted from sponsorship myself. I also met other women from our Firm around the world and the experience empowered me to work towards partnership.
Don't be afraid to have a voice and make mistakes
When I was younger I would sometimes not speak up or voice an opinion, fearing that I wasn't 100% correct. The people that inspire me most are those who ignore their fears and voice their views, even if they may not be popular.
Get out of your comfort zone
If I look back on my career, I realise that I learned and advanced most when I took on challenges that were outside of my comfort zone. For me this included delivering presentations, taking on difficult work assignments in areas that I had not done before and stepping in for more senior associates or partners when needed.