EmerGING Leaders 2019

in-house Shortlist

Himanshu Dodeja

Managing Director and Head of Legal, Blackstone India

Winner

Started practice: 2004

“Each member in my team is a decision maker and has a seat at the table to evaluate a deal at Blackstone. We have a flat culture with no hierarchy. All of my junior team members have access to the senior leadership, across the world. In addition, all our team members have to compulsorily spend time in our international offices across the world… All of them are future ready!”

Before joining Blackstone as their first general counsel in India, Himanshu was a partner at the firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. As general counsel, Himanshu advises as much on business and reputational matters as he does legal, prioritising shareholder value. Within a year of joining the company, he was made Managing Director for all the businesses.

Himanshu avoids imposing any kind of hierarchy on his team and ensures that they all gain experience working in international offices. He is an advocate for disrupting the profession through technology and new billing models.

 

What was their greatest achievement for a client: Helped Blackstone to launch the first ever real estate investment trust (REIT) in India, overcoming various regulatory and legal complexities.

Leadership qualities: Clear vision for the future of the profession ǁ Shows humility in recognising the contributions of his team ǁ Role as a business advisor indicates professional mastery ǁ Influences his team, the business and the industry ǁ Nurtures his team through training and inspiration

Nitin Banerjee

Group General Counsel, Ola (ANI Technologies)

Started practice: 1998

“The key challenge in such teams is to keep lawyers motivated, make them feel relevant within the organisation and responsible, empower them, create a culture of ownership and closure, be fearless and shield young legal team members, if and when, errors creep in.”

Nitin has worked in a variety of private practice and in-house roles in the UK and India, including for Vodafone, PwC, British Gas India and most recently as general counsel for Vedanta’s Oil and Gas business. He joined Ola as General Counsel in September 2019.

He is focused on developing the role of general counsel as an influencer in a business, particularly engaging with how regulatory changes will affect Ola as a technology disruptor. He advocates for improving diversity and employee well-being, and would like to see mandatory training contracts introduced in India.

What was their greatest achievement for a client? Working on two separate multi-billion-dollar disputes involving a sovereign, as well as a variety of strategic M&A and disposals for corporate clients.

Leadership qualities: Shows strategic thinking in developing his team as individuals and as business advisors ǁ Nurtures his team by providing opportunities ǁ Has a clear vision for the profession ǁ Influences people within his team and the business ǁ Shows empathy for his team and others around him

Vidyut Gulati

General Counsel & Director of Legal, Bharti Airtel

Started practice: 2002

“… a major change was my transition from law firms after 15 years to an in-house set up & intermingling with business. Leaving my comfort zone was tough initially but having worked with some of the most successful business houses, the in-house experience has been phenomenal!”

After 15 years working in private practice, Vidyut joined the legal team at Cairn Oil and Gas before moving to Bharti Airtel where she was recently made general counsel. As an in-house lawyer, Vidyut focuses on acting as a partner and advisor, enabling the business to grow, especially through strategic transactions. She has built up experience doing deals in Africa.

As a team leader, Vidyut aims to foster an inclusive, collaborative and diverse work environment. She has a strong sense of the purpose of the profession, illustrated through her work in legal aid and advocating for greater efficiency and liberalisation.

Leadership qualities: A clear vision for the future of the profession ǁ Empathy for her team ǁ Optimism for the impact lawyers can have in business and society ǁ Professional mastery ǁ Sticks to her principles indicating integrity

Gauri Rao

AVP, Tata Sons

Started practice: 2003

“Working as in-house counsel requires a different set of skills compared to private practice - a good in-house lawyer is largely self-motivated, multi-faceted, outcome oriented, invests time in building relationships with the business, has general expertise across a wider variety of legal issues and approaches issues faced by business in a commercial and solution-oriented manner.”

Prior to moving in-house, Gauri worked in private practice as a structured finance lawyer. Latterly, Gauri worked in London for Herbert Smith Freehills, before moving to Delhi to join Tata Sons in 2017. She focuses on acting as an advisor for business as well as on legal matters, organising year-round training sessions with law firms and other consultants to ensure that her team is constantly improving. In addition, she focuses on building strategic partnerships with outside counsel.

Gauri advocates for greater diversity in law, particularly seeing women in more senior roles. She worked on a campaign to improve air quality in Delhi and started a free library for children from low-income families.

Leadership qualities: A strong vision for her team and the profession ǁ Able to influence others ǁ Shows resilience in pursuing goals ǁ Works with expertise and mastery ǁ Skilled at strategic thinking

Bijoya Roy

Vice President and Group General Counsel, Flipkart

Started practice: 2002

“I am most passionate about my team. I strongly believe in investing in talent and facilitating this talent to grow and develop and bring value to the business they support. I try to always be aware of my own weaknesses and therefore aim to hire people who are smarter than me in their area of expertise. A talented, empowered team is a game changer for any company.”

Before joining Flipkart as Group General Counsel just after it was acquired by Walmart, Bijoya held leadership roles in corporate legal departments, including several years working for Thomson Reuters, spending time in their UK and UAE offices.

As general counsel, Bijoya is focused on increasing the legal team’s profile within the business and expanding the size of her team in order to advise on matters that would previously have been outsourced. She also engages with policy makers on how regulation of e-commerce will impact the business.

 

What was their greatest achievement for a client: Supporting Walmart’s investment in Flipkart by helping the company adjust to new regulatory and compliance requirements.

Leadership qualities: Courage to take a risk in her career ǁ Values integrity in leading her team ǁ Approaches her role with humility ǁ Professional mastery as a lawyer and business advisor ǁ Skilled in strategic thinking on legal and business matters

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