The president (Legal) & GC (Europe) of Hinduja Group discusses his in-house career.
How long have you been an in-house solicitor for?
I have been an in-house counsel throughout my career, both in India and the UK. I was the GC and company secretary in five major multinationals, private sector and public sector companies in India before joining the Hinduja Group in London.
What made you want a role on the board?
A seat on the board is everyone’s dream. It demonstrates your capabilities and usefulness at a decision-making level, but it does not come cheap – it takes hard work and perseverance. Presently, I am on the board of a number of group companies in six countries.
What are the most useful qualities an in-house lawyer needs working with and on a board?
An in-house lawyer must understand the business of the company they work for. Legal knowledge alone won’t make you successful – you also need a good grasp of finance, marketing and the organisation’s structure to be able to contribute effectively to the board. Being able to articulate your point of view to the board is also important.
What is the most enjoyable part of your role?
The most enjoyable part of my role is facing challenges and overcoming them with solutions. In a large group like ours, with so many businesses across the world, the role is pretty fulfilling.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I have been mentoring many students and professionals in different parts of the world for quite some time. My advice to younger professionals is to apply your knowledge to solve practical issues. Knowledge is the means to an end, not the other way round. Keep yourself updated all the time. Good written and oral communication skills are key for individual growth. Networking in today’s world is also extremely valuable. Above all, try to become a better human being!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I am fortunate enough to work under some of the finest CEOs across different companies. Their thought processes have influenced me to a great extent in shaping my own ideas. I am an avid learner and I continue to learn from everyone in both my professional and social circles. Over the years, I have learnt much, but the most important thing I have learned is to remain humble and feel the pain of others.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the in-house sector at the moment?
At the moment, the biggest challenge for in-house counsel is to remain relevant and useful in their organisations. The only way they can do that is to create value all the time in whatever they do.
What are you working on at the moment?
As part of a very large business group, I am working on several issues at the same time. I can say that we are working on a US$ 1.4bn hotel project in the heart of London. We have acquired the Old War Office in Whitehall and converting into an iconic hotel. There are many challenges involved in this project, but being an integral part of the team is really satisfying.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
I would say association with several global / international professional bodies in various capacities. Also, being recognised internationally is fulfilling.
Are you noticing any trends / pitfalls etc in your line of work at the moment? How are you dealing with those?
In today’s globalised world, compliance has become a critical issue. Every day, new legislation is put into place which requires implementation and that is quite challenging, specially in a global organisation like ours.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started out as an in-house lawyer?
I wish I knew that as an in-house lawyer, I would have to work just as hard as lawyers in private practice! I thought my life would be easy!
Tell us an interesting, lesser-known fact about yourself.
I am interested in Indian and western classical music and, like any other Indian, I am a cricket fan. I love pulling pranks on my friends and family, sometimes to their annoyance.