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Gerry Amann is General Counsel - Growth Markets at Accenture, a leading global professional services company. Prior to joining Accenture in 2005, he held in-house roles at MCI, GeoTrans, and Analysis & Technology. In his current role, he oversees delivery of all legal services to Accenture’s business across Asia, Middle East, LATAM, ANZ and Africa.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you're a general counsel based in Asia who'd like to be featured in this series, please email mari.iwata@tr.com and ranajit.dam@tr.com.

 

ALB: Tell us about your legal career so far, and what led you to taking up this role.

Amann: Accenture is a leading global professional services company with over 740,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Based in Singapore, I oversee delivery of all legal services to our business across Asia, ANZ, India, and Latin America. I’ve been with Accenture for 19 years.

Prior to my current role, I was the General Counsel – North America, and before that the General Counsel for Accenture Federal Services, our business that supports the U.S. federal government. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work across a broad swath of industries and legal disciplines, including contract negotiations, litigation, ethics & compliance, board secretarial, government relations, M&A, and legal operations. My career experience aligned well with the requirements of the Growth Markets GC role, and I began this current role in late 2022.

ALB: Apart from legal work, how do you participate in your company’s business?

Amann: I have some structured roles that keep me close to the business, such as taking part in the evaluation of M&A opportunities, or significant new business opportunities. As a senior executive, I also periodically participate in discussions with Accenture clients, for example sharing our experience in applying technology in our corporate legal practice, or best practices in managing outside counsel relationships. Lastly, I’m an active part of the business and legal community in Singapore and beyond, representing Accenture on expert panels and in professional associations.

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?

Amann: Culture is the most critical success factor for any enterprise because it is upstream of all the other behaviours you seek to foster. All companies have vision statements, codes of conduct, policies, and training, but it is the culture, shaped and modelled by company leadership, that brings it all to life. The foundational cultural imperative of ‘do the right thing’ guides all decision-making at Accenture, across all dimensions of our business. In addition, I seek to lead teams based on cultural themes of integrity, courage, empowerment, and resilience.

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? 

Amann: A successful hiring and talent retention strategy starts with creating the right environment to attract the best talent, which links back to the earlier point on culture. We work hard to create an environment where legal professionals can do interesting work with strong and collaborative colleagues, and constantly expand their skills and experience. I also push my teams to be close to their business clients and be a part of strategising and problem-solving beyond just the ‘legal’ lane. This builds trust and creates a more fulfilling in-house career experience, which in turn makes outstanding professionals want to join your team.

In addition to technical excellence, the most successful lawyers are curious, adaptable, tech-friendly, and good communicators. Accenture works at the leading edge of technology and human innovation, so things move fast and we often grapple with novel and evolving issues.

ALB: When it comes to cooperating with external lawyers, what qualities or capabilities do you believe are the most critical to not only the work itself but also a sustainable long-term cooperating relationship?

Amann: I’ve had the opportunity to work with many of the top law firms in the world, led by highly accomplished and impressive lawyers. The best relationships are based in two-way dialogue and intensive listening. At the outset of a matter, I try to convey to external counsel the key success factors from my perspective – what is our objective? who are the key stakeholders? what is the best presentation style to communicate effectively with those stakeholders? what is the broader context for this matter within the company? what will our decision-making process look like?

Throughout the life cycle of a matter, I push teams to maintain strategic alignment of all activity, articulating how each recommended action supports our agreed strategy, and why it is the best of available options. Combining this level of strategic clarity and two-way communications with the premier skills of top firms positions everyone for success, and I strongly favour firms that can work this way.

ALB: How do you perceive the integration of LegalTech, data analytics, and process optimization in enhancing the overall value of your legal department?

Amann: I believe this is the area of corporate legal practice that will see the most revolutionary change in the next few years. Legal departments are stores of tremendously valuable data, knowledge, and experience, and technology is now at a point to truly unlock that value. The data in your customer contracts, supply chain agreements, intellectual property investments, etc., can yield a new lens through which to see important trends affecting your business, and inform your business strategy.

Similarly, data analytics around your internal workflows can highlight how to deploy the most cost-effective resources against specific work processes, such as automation, or just-in-time advice embedded in business workflows, freeing your high-value legal professionals to spend the bulk of their time on the highest-value activities. Smart application of technology, with humans at the centre, will be the superpower of the next top-tier legal departments.

ALB: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? OR What motto do you live by?

Amann: “There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.” – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, Extreme Ownership

In-house practice requires teamwork both within Legal and with partners – HR, Finance, Communications, Business Operations, and others. Good leadership removes barriers, inspires team members to support each other, and shares credit for team success.

 

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