29 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – JULY 2023 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM ROUNDTABLE company’s growth and success in the next 12-24 months? MISRA: There is a definite focus on growth and new openings, coupled with ensuring that there is consistency of service excellence and ensuring that our guest have a bespoke experience of our offerings. Having said that, the legal team has stepped up and taken effective measures to ensure that we deliver on what is expected, i.e., excellence. We have crafted standard templates for agreements, focused on service-level deliverables and ensured that we have effective compliance management systems in place. We periodically issue guidelines and conduct trainings for the operational teams. Further, the legal team uses the latest technology (including AI-based tools) available for research, contract management, IPR management, etc. With a view to delivering service excellence, we are also evaluating modes to enhance further our compliance management setup for efficiencies and operational ease of use. HOU: Our group is promoting highquality development, which includes a greater focus on ESG. Therefore, our legal department will respond with more effort in this regard. Besides, our legal department plans to increase the use of digital tools to streamline legal processes and increase efficiency, in line with the Group’s initiatives of cost reduction and efficiency improvement. SIMPSON: We are re-evaluating our processes and redistributing resources. Strategically we’re working with the business to optimise internal company structures and processes. We’ve been working closely with our operations teams post-COVID-19 to support reopening existing hotels and ensure contract terms remain relevant. We’re also working with our sales and business development teams to ensure our brands are poised for optimised growth in certain countries, by evaluating our portfolio of brands and identifying which countries we could introduce new brands for enhanced growth. ALB: With the anticipated increase in corporate and leisure demand, are there any specific areas of legal expertise or skills that your department will require to navigate the changing industry dynamics effectively, and how are you addressing these talent needs? MISRA: With our company’s growth trajectory and the increased signings, the legal team needs to enhance its negotiation skills continuously. Appropriate courses, trainings etc., are evaluated for upskilling the team to negotiate better and promptly close projects. Given the criticality of compliance, we need to periodically review and enhance the compliance management tools and legal process management tools by evaluating newer, effective tools adopting the latest technology, including AI. The legal team also needs to keep itself up to date and upskill itself in the use of AI and increased use of digital tools, which are proving to be worthy enablers of prompt execution and completion of time-sensitive tasks/projects. HOU: We need to enhance our expertise in data security to meet statutory requirements. We also need to keep abreast of changes in laws and regulations of various jurisdictions and adapt to the circumstances to ensure compliance. Most importantly, we need the ability to provide solutions to cope with the so-called BANI (brittle, anxious, nonlinear, and incomprehensible) world. My way is to foster a culture of continuous learning in our team. Besides, the following principles shall always be kept in mind: integrity, openness, innovation and seeking win-win. SIMPSON: We don’t see a specific need for legal expertise related to increased corporate and leisure demand. Instead, it is more of an all-encompassing need for increased resources as the number of hotels in our network continues to increase, and the existing hotels get “back on track” with the growth of their businesses. We find that it’s helpful to have inhouse lawyers that can think strategically while remaining cognisant of when they can push themselves to develop a piece of work and when they need to engage specialist external counsel help. We often look for part-time solutions, secondees or contractors to fill the gaps for specific once-off work or peaks and troughs of work. We also find it’s helpful to gather as a team once or twice a month, to reevaluate how the business is leveraging the legal department as a resource and see where we can build efficiency on what they are asking for. If there is a specific process, letter or piece of advice that seems repeated across the region, we will ask ourselves a couple of key questions: Can we make a template document or process for business use more widely? Should we hold an internal education session to distribute the advice more widely and give the business time to ask questions? “In addition to supporting our sales and business development teams in adding new hotels to our portfolio, we’ve noticed mindset changes in both the hospitality company and the hotels themselves coming out of COVID-19. These mindset changes include relooking at old processes, procures and structures and evaluating if they continue to be effective.” — Joanne Simpson, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts