Carla: Senior Commercial Solicitor

A senior commercial solicitor, Carla is admitted as both an Attorney of the High Court of South Africa and a Solicitor in England and Wales. After working in the Commercial & Corporate pratice at Garlicke & Bousfield, a leading South African firm, she joined Sodexo Group and The Keyholding Company in London, advising their executive team as senior counsel. With considerable expertise in major contract awards, Carla supports companies with her strong skills in contract drafting, vetting and negotiating, and post-execution contract support. Business- and commercially-minded, she drives effective legal and commercial advice to businesses within the legal framework of relevant legislation. Here, she shares her insights on recent experiences as an Obelisk consultant.

Can you describe your work experiences through Obelisk?

I’ve worked with Obelisk since 2014. Most recently, I took on a technology/IT law role with a large advisory firm in London, after being prompted by Obelisk to consider the role. Initially, I was hesitant about applying for the role as my background is general commercial law, but the Obelisk team thought that I would be a good fit and so I decided to apply for the role. I was very surprised when I got it! Needless to say, I am very glad the Obelisk team encouraged me to go for it because I have been really enjoying the challenge.

What makes your expertise unique?

Prior to joining Obelisk, I worked in a large law firm in South Africa and after moving to the UK, gained in-house experience working for both large multinationals and for small SMEs. That, coupled with the 10 years + PQE I have in both private practice and in-house, has enabled me to apply for roles with small companies looking for legal processes and systems to be set up from scratch and with large powerhouses needing flexible, pragmatic legal support.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of flexible working as a lawyer?

Being trusted and treated with integrity and respect. And of course, having an amazing work-life balance and getting to spend quality time with my family. – The most challenging? The daily struggle of not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done, both from a professional and personal perspective and working remotely 3 days a week, with only 2 days in the office also comes with its challenges – thanks to modern technology it is workable but does mean that my visibility within the workplace is probably not where it should be.

What are your proudest professional and personal achievements so far?

Professional – wrapping my head around GDPR and successfully navigating the company Obelisk placed me with in 2017/2018 through GDPR compliance from a zero base. Also, being appointed as one of the youngest senior associates at the law firm I worked for in South Africa. Personally – taking myself out of my comfort zone and applying to be a governor at my children’s school. After being elected, I then had a very short period of time to get up to speed with governance in the education sector, which at the time felt like an insurmountable challenge – it still feels this way two years into my term!

How do you find the right work/life balance?

Ensuring that the roles that I apply for (through Obelisk) are with companies that are forward-thinking from a work/life balance point of view and that flexible working is encouraged and practised. The cultural fit in this respect is essential in my view. I also firmly believe that family are #1 and a job will always take second place.

What are your words of advice to other legal consultants?

Don’t be scared to apply for roles that don’t fit neatly with your skill-set. Change is good and challenge is good. And if you are ever out of your comfort zone, believe in yourself and don’t underestimate the ability you have to learn new things about new sectors/areas of law.

How do you start and end your day?

A typical day starts with small people waking me up, which drives me straight to the coffee machine to make a strong coffee! My day usually ends with a good book.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Mind-reader! The ability to read minds would make both my personal life and professional life a lot easier.

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