I have always been fascinated by words: their meaning and history, how languages develop and why we use one word over another. I studied English and History at A-level and, thinking about following a similar route at university, decided to study Law at Manchester. At university, I decided I wanted to be a practicing lawyer, specifically one that works in the dynamic, international and team-oriented environment of a City firm. I completed work experience and vacation schemes in London, Leeds and Manchester, before deciding I wanted to work in London – and with Herbert Smith Freehills.
My Future focus
USING THE LAW TO CREATE A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY
My focus is developing our practice in sustainable investment work. That includes impact investment and the broader push for asset managers to incorporate sustainability measures in their investment and incentive processes. It is an area of real focus for the industry and the regulators so now is the opportunity to help frame that legislation and guide clients through it as it develops.
Last year we pitched for a role to help establish a new investment fund which would focus on investments in green technologies and seek to support ideas that can help to reduce climate change. It is an innovative idea and would be one of the first of its kind. It was also a mandate for a large client of the firm, but one for whom we'd done relatively little in my area. The pitch process was, therefore, key to establishing credibility and winning the work, as we didn't have a longstanding personal relationship between our team and the client's to rely upon.
I led that pitch and worked hard to understand what the client's sensitivities and key issues were likely to be before we went into the room; as we saw it, the best way to show the client that we could be trusted with the deal was to demonstrate our expertise by talking them through the issues, so I had to do a lot of prep to make sure I could anticipate what those issues might be and talk them through ideas for solutions. I worked as part of a team with another partner and the two associates who would work with us on the deal, and by the time we went into the room I felt we were as prepared as we could be. When we came out, I felt that we couldn't have presented any better but you never know what is going to tip the balance with these sorts of processes, so I was delighted to find out later that we had been appointed. It was a great team effort but one which relied on each of us doing our part; we wouldn't have won the work if I hadn't put the effort in (and likewise for the others), so the sense of achievement when we did was fantastic.
As part of its Ocean Rescue campaign, Sky announced the launch of Sky Ocean Ventures - an impact investment vehicle that will invest in new ideas and businesses who can help solve the oceans plastic crisis. Sky Ocean Ventures is encouraging businesses and innovators who are developing plastic packaging alternatives, new technology for the home that will help assist recycling and those developing alternative fibres for clothing to share their ideas and seek support. As a longstanding client of Herbert Smith Freehills, we continue to advise Sky on a range of legal and regulatory matters and have been assisting Sky Ocean Ventures across its full life cycle, ranging from advising on the initial structure and formation to supporting investments in early stage companies.
I have been leading the team working on the structuring and formation of the entities which form the Sky Ocean Ventures platform. That means identifying the legal, tax and regulatory pros and cons of using different types of investment vehicles and trying to give the client flexibility to allow the structure to evolve over time, in accordance with their commercial strategy. In particular, we have been helping Sky to navigate regulation applicable to funds and investment management, which had not historically been implicated by their core business. As the work has involved the tax team, funds advice and M&A work, part of my role has been to coordinate our advice across the different teams within the firm.
Sky made their first two investments through the Sky Ocean Ventures platform in July 2018, having previously announced a £25 million commitment to the project. It is very satisfying to see those investments coming to fruition and the structure being put to great use, after starting with a blank sheet of paper not too long ago. This is a great example of how our normal commercial work can come together with an impact investment strategy to provide a very meaningful result for the client and wider community.