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Ria Manguray Member  in the Spotlight

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 Ria Manguray, Senior Group Legal Counsel ANZ at Electrolux and a guest on Season 2 of the In-house Insiders podcast series.

Tell us about your current role.

I am the newly appointed Senior Group Legal Counsel ANZ of Electrolux.

For context, Electrolux is a leading global appliance company that has been shaping living for the better by reinventing taste, care and wellbeing experiences making life more enjoyable and sustainable for millions of people since 1919. Through a range of well-known brands, including Electrolux, AEG, Westinghouse, Anova, Vintec, and Beefeater, Electrolux sell more than 60 million household and professional products in more than 150 markets annually. The headquarters are located in Stockholm, Sweden, and the Electrolux share is listed on Nasdaq OMX Stockholm. In Australia, Electrolux is the largest appliance company with approximately 2,000 employees nationally (including in distribution and manufacturing), and colleagues across the pond in New Zealand. 

Similar to other legal functions I’ve joined, the Electrolux ANZ Legal Team is a lean and mighty team. My role covers a broad range of areas of law including general commercial, contracts, corporate governance, M&A, IP, consumer and competition, disputes, labour and employment, privacy and data protection, company secretarial, and regulatory. Having worked with some of the most recognisable brands involving a unique blend of Fortune 500, MNC, FMCG, retail, government, travel and tourism organisations, this role positively builds on my career journey and carries it further towards the direction aligned with my goals and aspirations as a legal professional.  

What I love about this role is that Electrolux is a company that has historically stood for sustainability even before it was a corporate buzzword. Electrolux is also heavily invested in amplifying equality, and diversity & inclusion across their business areas around the world. These company values are particularly important to me as a lawyer who continually seeks values-driven purpose and meaning in my work.

What do you believe is the most important skill an in-house lawyer needs?  

I believe the most important trifecta of skills comprises the following.

Curiosity. Being open-minded to continuously learning different ways of thinking, ways of working, and ways of problem-solving. As one of my law school professors wisely remarked, ‘The law is only one way of viewing the world.’ Curiosity in seeking out knowledge and perspectives that extend beyond the law and the view from a lawyer’s lens enables strategic approaches that tend to be more aligned with commercial objectives. Importantly, approaching work with a sense of curiosity and eagerness to learn makes my job even more interesting!

Communication. Understanding how to effectively communicate across all levels of an organisation goes a long way in making an impact as a trusted advisor.

Risk Management. Mastering risk management is a lawyer’s imperative. Achieving this in the ‘in-house context’ is akin to an artform that comes with experience developed over a period of time. For me, strategic risk management paired with curiosity to learn and ability to communicate in various forums has created an enriching experience in my career.

What led you to pursue an in-house legal role?

I’ve always been interested in the intersection of business and law. However, whilst in law school my knowledge of what it meant to be an ‘in-house lawyer’ was quite limited. Given my interest, I applied to a graduate lawyer role at the Fortune 500, multinational company, Procter & Gamble. This was my first role as a qualified legal practitioner. Despite my lack of PQE in private practice, the hiring managers saw immense value in my prior work experience as a paralegal in the US and Australia which led to their decision to bring me on board as the first graduate lawyer appointed to their Australia and New Zealand operations. My time at Procter & Gamble was the beginning of a colourful legal career and shows how it is possible to own your career narrative without subscribing to conventions.

What advice would you offer to in-house counsel in building relationships with their organisations?

As an experienced in-house lawyer, I am of the view that building relationships internally means building trust. The starting point is having a genuine interest in understanding the organisation and the people. This approach sets a solid foundation for the formation of relationships with key stakeholders and the broader organisation.

What is the one thing a law degree doesn’t teach you about being an in-house lawyer?

When I was a juris doctor student at the University of Sydney, there were no awareness around in-house career pathways. Most of the career events were centred on private practice, the bar, and occasionally, government agencies. I believe this was a missed opportunity for universities in contributing towards the educational experience, and importantly, shaping the future generation of lawyers. In recent times, I’ve observed university law societies taking charge in adding in-house career topics into their events programs. I understand this is indicative of the emerging awareness and interest amongst law students in exploring in-house practice as an option post-graduation.

What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed across the legal sector since you joined the profession?

There has been a greater demand for in-house practitioners since I started practising, and growing interest amongst legal professionals in becoming in-house practitioners. I think this trend demonstrates how organisations view the value in-house legal professionals continue to bring, and in parallel, how legal professionals are viewing their career progression beyond the traditional notions of what a career in law looks like.

Finish this sentence… If I wasn’t a lawyer I’d be…

A fashion designer. An art curator. A chef. Perhaps one day!

I like being a part of the ACC Australia community because…

of my colleagues, ACC Australia’s online resources, and the thoughtfully curated events program, including the upcoming In-house Legal National Conference in November 2022.

Ria Manguray features on Season 2 of In-house Insiders, ACC Australia’s exciting podcast series.

Ria Manguray

Ria Manguray is an award-winning in-house lawyer and experienced corporate practitioner with over 10 years of combined experience in the legal industry in the United States and Australia. At the time of this interview, she was Legal Counsel for Tourism Australia. 

In this episode, you’ll hear how Ria’s career has had a number of twists and turns: she started out in California as a paralegal, before deciding to make a big change and move to Australia as a single parent. She also shares how her career as a paralegal enabled her to jump into in-house roles earlier than most, and how the theme of “giving back” has had a big impact on her career.

Listen now and listen free!