Sabrina Lin, who is the deputy chief legal officer for Charoen Pokphand Group’s overseas (ex-Thailand) businesses, and head of legal for the group’s overseas investment arm, CT Bright Group Company, joined the company in 2018. She leads a team of lawyers to support the group’s investments in a wide range of industries, including insurance and finance, pharmaceutical, life science, technology, medical and fintech via a variety of structures and also advises on the financing and structuring of the group’s investment portfolio companies. Lin played an integral role in setting up the group’s overseas asset management platform, including launching various co-GP PE funds and multi-strategy hedge funds.
ALB: Tell us about your role. What does the average day look like for you?
Lin: I head the overseas private investments legal department of CP Group. We look at PE/VC deals as well as public market and fund investments. My average day starts with having business briefings with my business teams on market trends and deal pipelines followed by team meetings on deal status with my legal team members. During the day we work closely with external counsel to manage the document status for each of our deals and regularly report back to our business teams. We work hand-in-hand with our business teams aiming to provide real time responses (no less than two hours) for each enquiry raised. On a weekly/bi-weekly basis, I work with the senior management on high-level IC meetings or management meetings to review our overall investment strategies or key deal initiatives.
ALB: How would you describe your strategy for the legal team?
Lin: Efficiency, responsiveness, being proactive and being solutions-oriented trusted partners of the business, is our strategy. As our deals operate on a fast pace, my team’s key strategy is to always try to be responsive and on top of the latest development of deals. In addition to being proactive and responsive, we try to be solutions-oriented as much as we can and provide constructive advice to our teams. Being versatile and constructive are our key mottos when providing legal support to our business teams.
ALB: What are some of the big challenges the business has been facing in the past few months, and how are you looking to tackle them?
Lin: U.S.-China tensions have affected a few of our investment decisions, especially investments in the U.S. or U.S.-related companies. Some of our investee companies faced financial difficulties during COVID-19 so we are also proactively looking at various restructuring/refinancing proposals for our investee companies.
ALB: How do you feel the pandemic will reshape the way the company operates? What strategy changes have you put in place in the long run?
Lin: For our core businesses (agro-industrial businesses), it remains unaffected and blooming, with more food demand given the lockdowns being imposed globally. For our PE/investments businesses, we are more selective and taking more time to evaluate different assets.
ALB: How important is the company’s culture, according to you? What kind of internal culture are you looking to foster both within the team, as well as your business as a whole?
Lin: I think the company’s culture is everything to me. Our company lives by having a collaborative environment and this has shaped our important business decisions so far. As such, one of the most important thing I share with my team members is to embrace this culture as much as we can even when doing stressful/fast-paced deals.
ALB: On that note, how would you describe your hiring and talent retention strategy? What kinds of lawyers would make the best fit for your team?
Lin: We would certainly be looking at hiring people who are well versed in technical skills as well as have great people skills. As mentioned, fitting into the collaborative company culture is crucial for the legal team members so we would be looking for people with a “personal touch” in our hiring strategies.
ALB: How would you describe your approach to technology? How has the use of tech within your team evolved since you started at the helm, and what is your blueprint for the next year or two?
Lin: Other than for documentation process purposes, we haven’t been using other legaltech as much in our team, but our business teams use big data for analytical purposes. We would be interested in learning how we can incorporate different legal technologies into our day-to-day work.
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