GC Spotlight: Nadine Maurellet, Group General Counsel of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited.

This month on the GC Spotlight, we have Nadine Maurellet, Group General Counsel of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, a luxury hospitality and real estate group. Nadine shares with us what a modern GC looks like, the challenges and priorities of a leading hospitality group during a pandemic and her thoughts on the use of data. Let’s dive right in -

1. Hi Nadine! Tell us a little about yourself. What does the day to day of a modern GC look like? 

A modern in-house General Counsel usually wears a couple of hats within the Company. For myself, I am not only the Group General Counsel of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, I also wear the hat of being the Group General Manager, Business Diversification.  My job duties vary from day to day, ranging from setting direction and providing guidance for the legal team; project management; crisis management for particular projects and operations due to geopolitical developments and the pandemic; discussing business improvement strategies and implementation plans with the Group’s senior management; and reviewing risk management and compliance practices across the Group. 


2. What have been your biggest challenges over the last few months?

The biggest challenge over the last few months was building our new hotel properties without the ability to be on the ground to monitor progress and spot issues, and using alternative methods to try to achieve the same objectives.  Work-from-home has worked out fine for our legal department and I need to ensure the team has the hardware, software and documents it needs to continue its functions. Besides, thinking ahead and strategising without face-to-face meetings has proven difficult. Therefore, thinking out of the box on alternative means to set and implement strategic goals and setting priorities for the department has been keeping me busy.


3. What are your key priorities for the year?

Through these extraordinary and challenging times, my key priorities are continuing to be a trusted legal and business adviser for the Group; connecting the dots in terms of business strategy and legal & compliance strategy; amassing all information necessary to make decisions with integrity every day; being forward thinking and building resilience for the department and the Group.


4. Has your role in your organization changed/is it changing? If yes, in what way?

My role has been expanded from Group General Counsel to Project Sponsor of a hotel under development, to Group General Manager, Business Diversification over the years. So, in a nutshell, this increased portfolio of responsibilities has brought more depth and breadth of experience outside of my main role as Group General Counsel. It has enabled me to look at business issues and brainstorm solutions for the Company from an entirely different mindset and to stretch my skill set accordingly.


5. How do you think about the use of data relating to your legal department’ activities (e.g. data relating to contracts, risk, tracking workflows, performance metrics, costs)?


There is no doubt that data management has always been a high priority in our department, but the challenge is to strike the balance between tracking and reporting versus having time and space to think ahead and pre-empt problems and to execute in accordance with the speed needed by the business.


6. Are there any specific changes, developments, or trends that you expect (or hope) to see in the legal services industry?


As evolving technology is changing the legal industry, we may see different types of legal work done by machines in 5-10 years’ time. Law firms need to be more agile and provide value-added services to their clients. Traditional model of charging by the hour is being challenged by increased competition, industry disruptors, client-side workflow automation, etc. If law firms can collaborate with clients on bespoke solutions on projects, that will be value-adding and perhaps pave the way for more long-term relationships.