A quick chat with...Caroline Beaumont, General Counsel and Executive Director Coca-Cola Amatil (NZ)
CB: Since June 2016. I was delighted, honoured and surprised (not necessarily in that order) to have been selected as a Committee member in the recent ballot.
What do you hope to achieve as a ILANZ Committee member in the year ahead?
CB: I’d like to add value to the wider in-house lawyer community and am hopeful that ILANZ is the vehicle to achieve this.
What do you do?
CB: That’s a good question. The dark arts of legal stuff. I’m not convinced that my colleagues know exactly what I do on a day-to-day basis, but they leave me alone to do whatever I need to do, as long as I do it under budget and on time.
What do you like most about your job?
CB: Being a feral lawyer. Working in house at Coca-Cola Amatil provides me with oodles of opportunities not to do legal stuff. Mostly, I enjoy the variety of issues that come across my desk.
What is a career highlight so far?
CB: Being in the right place at the right time to land the role at Coca-Cola Amatil. It’s been very satisfying place to be from the perspective of wanting to be involved from an intricate level with the business of CCA.
What are some challenges or issues that you think in-house lawyers are facing today?
CB: I don’t have anything new to say here. Technology is an untamed beast. When I started work (and now I’m going to sound like a fossil), a KPI was to respond to a client letter (and that’s the paper variety) in 2 business days. Now, if I haven’t responded to an email or text in 2 hours, I am making apologies for the delay. I even sleep with my phone, and my iPad is always within arm’s reach. And I’m confident that I’m not alone. The world as gone “instant gratification” crazy but it seems that unless we drop off the grid it’s the way life now is. For in-house lawyers, budgetary pressures are relentless. Pencil sharpening is a great skill. And finally, being able to articulate value in a world that turns on numbers and trying to find ways to “translate” that value in way that accountants can relate to.
What are some fallacies that you have heard about in-house lawyers?
CB: Back in the day, when I was in private practice, the perception of in-house lawyers was that it was a cushy gig. I don’t know whether that perception still exists. Truth is, I’m on-call 24 hours a day. I dream about work issues. That’s got to be the definition of “not cushy”.
What are your hobbies?
CB: Anything to do with sport. Preferably watching rather than actually taking part. I’m fortunate to be on the board of New Zealand Football, which allows me to contribute to the beautiful game at a governance level. Also, I’m addicted to Whodunits – reading or watching them. I originally wanted to be a forensic scientist, but I took arts subjects for A Level (the teachers were nicer) and that put paid to that dream.
Anything else? eg. anything else I haven’t asked, that you would like to add?
CB: I recently became admitted as a celebrant which, as an incurable romantic, I’m hugely excited about. I now proposition people with “Can I marry you?” and then explain that my interests are purely of an officiating nature. Also, my greatest achievement is the parenting of two lovely young ladies whist working full time throughout their lives. I regularly pinch myself at how lucky I am to have them.