PSWhen did you work at Norton Rose Fulbright and in what team?

I joined the Singapore office in December 2007 and was a member of the banking and project finance team SBF2. I had previously taken a three year sabbatical from the law during which time I travelled from Australia to Canada, London and then onto Singapore. I come from an Asian family and the three professions my parents approved of were accounting, law and medicine. My father and siblings are all accountants so I decided to rebel and become a lawyer. As a young law student, I was very altruistic and believed corporate law just wasn’t for me so I qualified as a family lawyer in Brisbane, Australia. Although I found it very interesting, it was also emotionally difficult despite having fantastic Partners to mentor me. I realise now that, as a very young lawyer, I didn’t have the life experience to counsel people on the problems they were facing. After a few years, I decided it just wasn’t for me so, along with some friends, traveled to Whistler, Canada  to be a snow bunny for the better part of the worst ski season they had seen in 30 years. I then traveled to London where I decided to try a completely different profession and worked in recruitment, which is where I met my husband. We decided it was time for a change so he took a job in Singapore and I decided to return to the law. Hence, I joined Norton Rose Fulbright as a first year associate in Singapore office under the guidance of Nick Merritt and Jeff Smith working on financing matters. 

What are your favourite memories from your time with the firm?  

I have numerous memories of my time at the firm as, being in my mid-20s to early-30s, it was quite a significant period in my life. My favourite memory is quite simply “the people” in the office – there was a great group of people all of a similar age building their careers. It was this dynamic that made the Singapore office such a great place to work. Singapore is a busy financial hub and we certainly worked hard but we offset that with lots of fun as well. Also, Singapore’s travel connections meant we were able to travel easily to Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam and there were many unforgettable trips. I am happy to say that, although many of us have since moved on and are based in different parts of the world, the friendships from that time remain and we are still all in touch today.  

Was there anyone who particularly inspired you in your career?

I have met many inspiring people throughout my working life. My very first Partners I worked under as a fresh faced family lawyer, Geoff Smith and Don Leembruggen were both so great to learn from and masters at their craft.

Before I left London, I took a contract role at AllianceBernstien under the guidance of Head of Legal and Compliance, Donna Samuels. She was just so knowledgeable and grounded. It was Donna who inspired me to give the law another shot. 

Nick Merritt hired me into Norton Rose Fulbright and he has always been a very steadfast mentor in my career. I shared an office with him for the first four years and he constantly took the time to explain things and ensured I was exposed to a wide variety of transactions. I always admired how he could hold a room – he has this gravitas that very few can command.

Jeff Smith was also pretty amazing. He made lawyering look easy - during the most difficult and demanding transactions he would remain calm and composed. His people skills are just wonderful.

After leaving Norton Rose Fulbright, I worked at FedEx with again a fantastic group of people and was managed by two extremely influential women, Emma Wright and Rebecca Orme. They are both hardworking women who are seeking to change the landscape and the mind-set in what has been a traditionally male profession - setting the bar for work/life balance in managing a family and a demanding career.  

Where has your career taken you since leaving Norton Rose Fulbright?

I left the firm in January 2015 to look after my young children. I returned as a consultant doing client secondments. I did a stint with HSBC in the Project and Export Finance team where I had previously been seconded to in 2010. It was great to see that some of the old team were still there and to reconnect. I also undertook a secondment at FedEx which eventually became a full time role.

I  really enjoyed that role and loved my FedEx Family for not only the work which was quite different to banking and finance but also for the company’s values and respect for its Legal team, however we felt, as a family, that it was the right time for a change of scenery and an opportunity presented itself, so after 12 wonderful years in Singapore we moved to Switzerland. 

In 2021 I joined Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC), a current client of Norton Rose Fulbright. As such, I continue to work with people from Norton Rose Fulbright in Paris, London and Singapore. Coincidentally, I had worked with LDC’s Group General Counsel during my time in Norton Rose Fulbright Singapore office and it was good to have the opportunity to once again work together.

What do you enjoy and what are the challenges in your role?

I am part of the Global Financing, Sustainability and Carbon team, which has a lot of cross over in a global company such as LDC. Multinational companies globally are going through significant change in the way they do business, but also with regard to policies and procedures and the need to meet ESG targets. Continuing transformation in the ESG landscape means there are constant developments and legislative changes and I enjoy being part of the team supporting LDC in its sustainability journey.

LDC is involved in numerous projects across our geographic regions, some of them in partnership with the Louis Dreyfus Foundation, which aim to give back to communities and support smallholder farmers. In my role, I support these projects on the legal side, in addition to supporting the Louis Dreyfus Foundation as needed, which is particularly rewarding.

The aspect of change and people’s reluctance to embrace it can be a challenge. In our Legal function, we are trying to find more efficient ways to support the business. My approach is to educate and try to shift people’s mind-sets as to the way they do things, although it is not always an easy task. 

What is the best piece of advice you have been given in your career?

I am not sure where this advice originated from but it is “Don’t ask, don’t get”. It is not the most eloquent of phrases but I stand by it in all aspects of my life. If you want to change or try something new then don’t be afraid to ask. No one can read your mind so unless you speak up you won’t know. You may not always be happy with the response but even if it’s a “no” then at least you know where you stand and it allows you to work out the best way for you to move forward.. 

What do you do to relax when you are not working?

When I’m not working I like to spend my time with my family and friends. We are real foodies and, while I’m not the biggest fan of cheese (even of Swiss fromage), I enjoy discovering local, affordable nouveaux wines. Our home is surrounded by vineyards against the backdrop of the Alps, which makes for postcard living. 

Lausanne’s landscape is  spectacular and there is great walking and hiking here.. If I can combine exercise with a gossip with a friend then so much the better. 

Living in Lausanne means it is imperative to speak French. This was not a language I have previously been exposed to and I can’t say  learning it has been easy, it is a very complex but I do try to practice every day. 

If I could have had another career, I would have been a dancer. As a child and young adult, I danced Jazz, Latin Ballroom and Street Latin and in high school was even in a hip-hop group. When we first moved to Singapore I did Flamenco and Belly-dancing. I love Latin music and dance however as my favourite styles are all  partner-dancing  it is quite hard to find someone who is at the same skill level and as committed as you. At the moment, I try and dance whenever I can, mostly online in my living room which is all I can find the time for at the moment with  my other commitments. I particularly love Jazz Funk as this style of dance makes for a really good work out. Dancing is my passion and it never fails to make me feel positive and happy.