Member in the Spotlight allows us to get up-close and personal with some of our ACC Australia members. This week we are shining the spotlight on Krista Stewart, General Counsel Corporate at Orica Limited, and winner of the 'Deal Maker of the Year' at the 2020 ACC Australia Corporate Lawyer Awards.
Tell us about your current role.
I am Orica’s General Counsel Corporate. The portfolio of my team is broad – encompassing safety, health, environment, strategic marketing, technology, M&A and corporate governance.
I spend most of my time working with the Development Team on various M&A opportunities so, from a daily perspective, it is a transaction-centric role.
What do you believe is the most important skill an in-house lawyer needs?
I believe it is the ability to bring people with you on the journey – not only does it help safeguard against team members feeling ‘blind-sided’, but it also creates a feeling of shared ownership of an outcome (making it more likely to stick!).
What led you to pursue an in-house legal role?
I was fortunate enough to enjoy almost 9 years in the Allens’ network living and practising in Australia, Thailand and Singapore.
While this presented first class opportunities to work on a variety of complicated and challenging cross-border transactions, ultimately, I realised that understanding the broader commercial, strategic drivers of a deal beyond the legal lens only was a source of great interest to me.
It was in the pursuit of that interest that I eagerly joined the Orica legal team in Singapore 11 years ago.
What advice would you offer to in-house counsel in building relationships with their organisations
On day one, (and every day after that), invest your time in understanding people at all levels of the organisation – what drives them, what keeps them awake at night, how you can help manage a risk or concern, what they are motivated to achieve and why.
Building relationships is critical. I am constantly amazed by the power of the relationship network and the terrific outcomes it has empowered me to deliver, (and the near misses it has helped me avoid!), over the years.
What is the one thing a law degree doesn’t teach you about being an in-house lawyer?
How you show up is as important as showing up with your ‘legal’ answer. Great outcomes are delivered through being curious to understand as many perspectives as possible, being empathetic and invested in delivering the best outcome possible for the team.
What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed across the legal sector since you joined the profession?
The ‘speak up’ culture has gained momentum. Lawyers have joined the conversation about the conditions in which we work – across a range of issues from shining a light on sexual harassment in the workplace and speaking openly about mental health issues, to dropping the myth that ‘all-nighters’ are a badge of honour that should be worn proudly, (as opposed to being called out as being a terrible health hazard).
Finish this sentence… If I wasn’t a lawyer I’d be…
A hostage negotiator! Being the middle child between sisters, from an early age I was on an accelerated course to expertly hone my negotiation and diplomacy skills to rapidly turn the temperature down on some pretty hostile exchanges.
I like being a part of the ACC Australia community because… the shared experiences, lessons learnt and collaboration amongst the members is invaluable given we share a number of common challenges.