Transcript: Building Teams and Nurturing Talent as a General Counsel

with Craig Katerberg

· Transcripts - CBLP


Art: Welcome everybody to the China business law podcast. I'm your host Art Dicker. And today we're joined by Craig Katerberg, Chief Legal and Corporate Affairs Officer of Budweiser APEC. Welcome. 

Craig: Thank you. Great to be with you. 

Art: It's a pleasure, I've seen you on other podcasts.

I've seen you, I'm very active on social media, LinkedIn, your wonderful voice for your company. So it's thrilled to have you on. And I know we already talked before we recording there are a lot of topics we can get into. So first I wanted to set up a little bit about your background, but then I wanted to dive into it a bit more.

So for people who don't know Budweiser APAC is the Asia Pacific business of Anheuser Busch, InBev, I believe. And it was carved out from the group a couple of years ago, and now it's listed on the Hong Kong stock. And I believe actually it was listed at the time of roughly around a $70 billion valuation.

So that's quite incredible. And but I know before you joined and right out of law school in 2009 in the financial crisis, you joined Simpson Thatcher and quickly went in-house and had actually spent a lot of time in Asia already. This is your second time around. So can I ask tell us a little bit about your deciding to go in-house relatively early on in your career and also how, how the opportunity came up and also how you started to get involved working more and more with Asia and Asia Pacific.

Craig: Awesome. Sounds great. So a lot of questions are, so keep me true to the answers to make sure we cover all of them. At least for me, law school was very much a path. It was. It wasn't the end goal. We had no lawyers in my family growing up and Decided to go to law school because I was working as a project manager for the New York city government in the Bloomberg administration and worked a lot with the New York city law department and liked doing contracts and putting contracts together.

So I figured, all right I want to be a lawyer. I want to do contracts. And you have to go to law school to do that. So it was very much kind of a path to be able to do what I already liked to doing. So I knew I liked doing contract work and then figured I wanted to do more with Latin America, which was what I had studied in college.

Has some ties in Latin America and spent a bit of time and likes that quite a lot. So I went to a law firm that had a lot of connections with Latin America, and that was Simpson Thatcher. Did no deals in Latin America but worked on a lot of private equity backed IPO's and bond issuances and all the, the normal contracts and commercial work that you do at large law firms.

And there was a now friend of mine who was doing in IPO for KKR, the private equity company that works a lot with Simpson. And I was also doing one. I was working on HCA, which is a big hospital conglomerate out of Nashville and she was working in toys. So she got much more of the fun one.

Neither of us had really done IPO's, but we were leading them and she had gone into, she'd gone to AB and Bev about a year and a half before I did. They were looking for somebody with kind of. Eight years of experience. And I had about two and a bit. But she had mentioned that it could be a really good cultural fit.

And so that's when I decided to try it out. I liked law firm life. But I figured I would try it out. And when it gets boring, I'll go back and do something at the law firm or do something else. And it's been interesting ever since. 

Art: They must've saw something in you because that is usually you have to put in a bit more time, putting your time, quote unquote, at a firm before you get those opportunities.

Clearly they found something in you that was different and willing to bring you on at such an early stage in your career. Now, what about Asia Pacific? How did you get involved? Over here, I, and I know from your CV and your LinkedIn background, that you started doing work here or related to this part of the world pretty early on in your career as well.

And then of course came over here. So tell us a little bit about that. 

Craig: Yeah, so I've done a fair amount of cross-border deals even before joining AB InBev. And that was just something that I'd liked with a Latin American connection. And then the first deal that we did was from. So we bought the 50% that we didn't already own for $21.1 billion.

And that when we were sued by the us department of justice and we ended up selling off the U S rights for Corona Mondello and several other brands in that antitrust. But that was the first deal that I'd done. And then most of the deals that you did in the coming three years when I was based in the U S were all in Asia.

So it was working with, we bought back OB, which has Oriental brewing company, which is the largest brewer in Korea that we had owned and then sold off. So we bought that back from a private equity consortium out of Korea. And then we did over a billion dollars worth of deals in mainland China as well during that time.

So it was flying back and forth, principally to Hong Kong. But, I chunked June in Shanghai and other places and soul and spending a lot of time in Asia. And so at that time we were looking to build out our compliance function. And so they offered. The role to me to build up the compliance function and to continue doing M and a deals, which I really enjoy and definitely enjoyed at the time as well.

So that landed me in Shanghai to build out that team. And that was fascinating from a whole different perspective to find the right people in China, Vietnam, India, Korea I try to get, really qualified. Attorneys and accountants and, data technicians on board and build out a whole ecosystem that hadn't really existed in the same format within our company.

Art: Got it. So bringing people together, I think was an early part of your job. And I think is we're going to get into that in a little bit more about how that's a key to your current role. One of the things that I've been trying to do in recent interviews and podcast episodes here is start to get feedback from other great episodes we had.

So when I talk about a lot is we had Kenny tongue on who was the former Asia Pacific GC for co and several other interesting roles along the way as well. He had a great quote, which I'll read here for for the audience about the role of in-house. And especially how they practice law within a company, he says is particularly for corporates, they don't hire us to practice law.

They hire us for our legal skills and insight and abilities, but they don't hire us to practice law, but they hired us to do is to solve problems. And we need to be proactive about this because have no fear, the ambulance is never going to run out of. It's far better to put ourselves up front and not wait until our options are limited.

And it's too little too late. We have to persuade our clients, including internal clients. That a lot of what we can do is actually like finance, like HR, like business intelligence. It can be weaved into the company's operation. Craig, that sounds great. But how do you do that in the real world? How do you do that day to day?

Craig: Yeah. I think it's great advice Any time you hire somebody, right? You don't hire them because they're good looking or brilliant at something, you hire them because there's a job to be done. And you think they're the best person to be able to get that job done. And I find that's true of any part of the business.

So I think there's a lot of truth to that. And I think there's a lot of truth about it almost, looking around corners and being able to anticipate what's coming. It's a great quote about, good judgment, comes from making lots of mistakes and from having bad judgment.

And so a lot of that is I think, experience that comes through a time when you things that see things that don't work out. When you think about operationalizing it, I think one of the best things you can do is know your company's strategy first and foremost, and know what's driving the business.

It's amazing in large organizations how focused people can be on their particular area and their KPIs and not always make the connection to what are we as a business going through, Doing a major digital transformation. Are we going through an integration where we're taking two different cultures and pulling them together and hopefully coming with the best out of both, rather than the worst set of both, what are the main priorities commercially that you're doing from the business?

So I think a lot of that starts from that perspective. It's one of those, whenever I talk with service professionals, law firms, or many others one of the things I always like to start with is what is our business strategy. What is our purpose, which is bringing people together for a better world in our case, what is our 10 year goal?

What is it that we're looking for and how is it that we're measuring those? If you're able to answer those questions on the legal side, you've already got a little. Because then you can tie your legal strategy to the overall commercial strategy, because of course you want to achieve those commercial goals, but you want to do it in a legal way and in a way that it's setting you up as a sustainable company for the future.

So that those aren't just one-off earnings. Those are recurring earnings that you can make over time. And that the business health, when you arrive at those different milestones is as healthy as possible. And lawyers have an enormous impact in the, how you get there and how well positioned. So that would be the first thing I say is, knowing your company strategy really well, knowing the financials about your company and what matters internally and externally and then the other one is building up trust, and that's.

In some ways it's an easy thing to do. And in some ways it's a very hard thing to do because building up trust takes time and it takes consistency and dependability. And especially in the commercial side there's very much almost a awareness about lawyers because, you've heard so many of, department of know or, if I need something shot down, that's what's going on.

And I think that's overblown and a lot of ways, especially in, in, in house because. There, there are a lot, there are a lot of tools that you, as a lawyer can bring to show to, to show that you're meeting the same objectives and you want to get there, but in a slightly different way that keeps it frankly legal and on the right side of the line.

So showing, the demonstrating that you care about the commercial objective, knowing the commercial objective, and then building up that trust over time, I think are the thing that you practically, you could do.

Art: So you've you probably by now to got to get to the point where you're at in, in the company and your role and how you've grown at the company, gotten good at this ability to understand the business model, understand the team and the strategy. How do you get the rest of your team?

How do you train them? How do you hire for that? How do you encourage them to not sit in their silo? 

Craig: Yeah. There's a few, I'll try to be specific on a couple of them. There's a lot of focus on hiring people, but I would almost shift the focus to developing people because hiring people, it's always an exciting moment.

People come in and day one, nobody's on day one, people are excited and you just try to give them things to do and get them going and learning about it. And people are really excited to start a new job. What I find is, especially in legal departments, that there's often a very defined origin.

And there's not as much mobility that you would have as if you were in a law firm where, your three is making this and you can look at the New York market and that's exactly what it is. And your seven is here and, you're looking at, and different levels, but it's very defined in terms of your career path in house is not defined when it comes to career paths.

And it's also quite constrained in terms of the head count and the different levels and what you're able to do. So I spend a lot of time. On personal development and professional development and trying to understand what are the specifics that the person wants to do and their career goals. And of course, what are the company objectives and strategy and how you're going about doing that, and then making sure that you're developing people, whether it's through formal external programs, whether it's through internal programs, but really thinking about what does this person want to be doing that will keep them engaged and keep them coming.

And if at that day one mentality so that's one specific thing. The other is, I don't like repeating myself, but I do it a lot. And I think you need to, as a leader in a large organization, because you're absolutely right. You might've heard the purpose of the company a hundred times, but the new person who's just started a month ago, hasn't heard it.

And the people who have started in the last few months might know what it is, but it's not just rolling off the tongue in the same way that it would be if you've been saying it for years. And so it repeating it has value, even if you don't like repeating yourself. And some of the people have heard it many times.

So a couple of specific things that I do, one is I always have a quarterly town hall with the entire legal and corporate affairs team for about APEC. That's 129 people for us. Many different countries and very different cultures, but we always make sure that we have that touch point where we can connect in on the strategy often with a commercial leader or one of our C suite executives who will come in and discuss different aspects, but then also recognizing different people on the team and showing individuals and getting to know the team.

Cause especially in our COVID world, it's very easy to fire off an email to 18:00 PM. And that's very different than knowing who is the right person to call or just have a personal connection with and just knowing that expert. So trying to showcase that expertise and bring out their professional development, but also that awareness across our zone, across our region.

I think as a second, a third thing that I tried to do and I've done this for years is every Sunday night I drafted an email to the. Talking about the week ahead about what I'll be doing or what are the big meetings coming on? A calendar of some of the things coming up in the next three to six months, whatever those big moments are across our region.

And then what I call call it shouts of recognition, but it's just all the different kinds of amazing things that were done in the last week by different people across the company. And then there's some other things about like random pictures or things, but I try to weave in a lot of the commercial strategy and our legal and corporate affairs strategy as well, so that people are hearing a lot of the same themes.

They're seeing the things that I'm prioritizing and putting attention on what are the things that are being recognized which can be substantive achievements, but they can be procedural or cultural ones as well. And I find that rhythm on a weekly basis is helpful for building at least sympathy, but even.

When you can't be in person, you don't know what people are working on and you're trying to work together as one team. And how, somebody might have an amazing idea in one area that you could apply or you could reach out to that person to find out a little bit more. 

Art: It's great. Yeah, absolutely. Calling out individual contributions is a great way to inspire the rest of your team to, to, to maybe find ways that they can contribute. Even outside of the legal department. It reminds me a bit of eh, when I was in house, we had when people could travel, we had an annual sales kickoff every year where the entire sales team from around the world met usually in Las Vegas or San Diego, California, somewhere on the west coast, us being a California company.

And we would all get fired up and the legal team would generally be invited into. We would all leave those that weekend really fired up right about, okay, this is what we're trying to do. This is the strategy. This is how we're going to get them, we're going to get more business at Intel or Samsung or something like that.

Yep. And you got to keep that momentum though. So I like the idea of the weekly email. Because that kind of momentum easily gets lost. One of the things that those joint events where people from different departments come together is it really puts a face. And especially the bonding that goes on outside of those presentations.

So how do you create opportunities like that for people, especially cross department to get to know each other on a more personal level, especially during challenging times, like. Where, like you said, next time something comes up and issue comes up. They're going to be a little more comfortable to make the call to, oh, I'm going to call John, I know I can work it out with him cause we had a great conversation that one time, how do you create that? Especially in a COVID world now, 

Craig: Frankly, there's no substitute for in-person and especially being a beer company. That is what we do at the end of the meeting. We will go and chat to people over beers.

And I don't think there's a substitute for that level of, just understanding and innovation and the spark that comes in. I think there are things that you can do that help, but it's no substitute for in-person. The things that I think can help there that we've tried to do is we've we've instituted what we call senior leader calls, where every month we have the partnership within our full company, which is about 200.

200 plus people and w we have 26,000 employees across Asia Pacific. So it's quite a small group percentage-wise out of the total population. What we do is every month we'll have an agenda, but it will be, two or three topics of business update. How are we doing a target? And then a couple of things could be carbon neutrality.

We did announced in world environment day. So that was a discussion. And then we intentionally leaves. And we leave space for discussions. And even with a group of 200 people, you can still have some of those conversations that come into place. And these are not the legal team, right? This is legal sales, marketing supply, like all the different teams that are there, but there is that space where you can voice opinions.

And that helps, I think, to a certain degree. It's not the same as when you can just grab beers with people. Another thing that we've done within the legal and corporate affairs team is that in our town hall one of my senior leaders at rightly pointed out, he's look, we've got a lot of content, but where can we interject some fun?

Cause everybody's on zoom and we're going through and it's strategy and it's all these things and they're great. And they're like really good that we know, but like, How can we interject some of that? And so we always have a happy hour at the end of it. That's just normal for us.

So it's not like the fun event, but what we did is we have. We had one person who collected a few things about people. So we chose three people from different countries and they had to tell two truths and a lie. It's a game, you play, I don't know, middle school, high school at these games, but we did that, featuring the person.

And then we had someone in terrible. Yeah. I just interrogate them about each of the different topics to try to figure out, which is really the one, which is the one that's really there. And then we had a voting on live voting that was going on and the person who interrogated, he did a really amazing job.

And so people were just cracking up everywhere. So I broke up the meeting and just more bite sized areas. And obviously, we've got to know a little bit more about those three people who were being interrogated. So you try to find some of those things that are just like fun or breaking up, like the monotonous zoom after zoom, that I think we're all pretty accustomed to at this point.

Art: So one more kind of related question on that, that topic of building across building bridges across teams and kind of approachability of the legal team to the other teams, I think it's very common. I'll use another example from when I was in-house, we were back in the corner of the, we had a big floor on top of the Kerry Parkside over in Pudong and we legal was tucked back in a little more out of that was by design or what but initially some of us in legal one of, one of our colleagues visit us.

Wow. You've got the most amazing setup. You can do all your work. You don't have all the other people from the department coming into your office, walking by bothering you. And I thought about that for a second. I'm like maybe we should be bothered. Maybe we should have people walking into our office more and overtime.

I liked that space less and less. At the same time. I could definitely, when we were in a crunch, if we're working on a major contract with a client, or we had a major kind of an internal investigation to deal with having that separate space is nice too. So how do you balance that? Because you can put your team out there and a lot of non, optional settings.

But even sit in on some business meetings, being out there more in the community, being out there, putting the face out for the legal department and we know legal department bandwidth. Time is money and legal department van, which is expensive. So when you get down to it, how do you balance all that kind of approachability being out there versus having that quiet space to get work done?

Craig: Yeah. I think it's different for every company culture and for different people. So I'll share a couple of things. One is, nobody at my company has an office. Okay. So I sit at a table, literally a table, a little bigger than this one that we have here with our CEO or CMO our CFO. You can go through all the acronyms, like chief people, officer, all of it's a big table and everybody sits there and there's no walls and it's just, you're having conversations.

So you have a lot of 32nd, one minute conversations and that helps with flow of information. So I find this really good and I've done that even in different. Where I will say, this person is really dedicated towards helping the marketing team on their advertising. They are going to go and sit in the middle of the marketing team and just be there and co locate them.

And so that sometimes works well in a particular setting other times. You're working on a big M and a transaction and it might be good to have the corner area where you need a little bit more quiet and you're there with the finance team and working in there. So I think a lot of it gets down to what is your co your company culture and what do you want that to be?

I think there's a great person for anyone in house to, to read any of his material. His name is mark Roellig. And one of the things that he recommends is that, he buys a tall cup of coffee. And he walks around the office until he has drank the coffee and it just forces himself.

And introvert as well as I am as well. But but fortunately it's very true now I'm very much an introvert, but no, it's, it forces him to go out and talk to people and not go back and close the office door and spend time to people and just hear what's going on. And that is part of your job.

It's not just banging out the contract and getting that, done that connecting and knowing the business and knowing what the issues are in the. It's as much a part of your job as writing a contract or suing someone. 

Art: I always joke that lawyers tend to think that the smartest person in the room and that's I don't know where that comes from there's times where I believe that for sure.

That's probably not generally the kind of attitude you want to have, especially working in a company or dealing with clients as outside of. Sometimes empathy is more important and likability and approachability. Like we talked about one story I had another quote from a prior episode, we had John Hicks who was employment counsel at night.

In the U S he used to be at cadence where I was so where we both were in the same legal department at one point. And when he I'll read the quote. When I first started working in house, like most lawyers I'd start every meeting, open the laptop, get out the pen, get out the paper and set everything up and say, okay, tell me everything.

And, part of part of what one of her colleagues says to took him aside one day, he said, you know what, John, you really should stop acting like. And he just he's what are you talking back? I'm this is my job, right? This is, I'm think I'm pretty good at this. And she said, if your goal is to get people to share information with you, give you information to and need to feel comfortable talking to you.

The last thing you want them to do is feel like everything they say is being recorded. And it's somehow in the future, you're going to use this all against them and, and I wonder how. Do you have to consciously make you and your team be more like this is gonna sound terrible, more like regular people or come across as like less lawyerly or more likable or just more approachable?

Craig: I think you see that adjustment when people come from law firms, in-house almost invariably and that's the guilty my hand, and I think it's part of it. I think it's because you're taught in a particular way through law school where you have that exact same framework. Of setting it up and capturing every word, even when it's a Socratic, classroom setting. 

Art: My first day at in-house, I literally kept track of all my time, like a billable time sheet.

And then the end of the day said, wait, I don't need to do this anymore. 

Craig: Yeah, absolutely. And it's so ingrained into you when you've been working at a law firm and coming out of a law school that I think it, there is a substantial adjustment that needs to take place. And that people pick it up pretty quickly.

It could be weeks, months can be a year or two, but I think most in-house people make that transition. And it's a great transition because you do want to have conversations with people and you do want to understand what are their problems that you're helping them to solve. And so that does involve building up trust.

I will say I probably had a slight advantage in a way. I didn't think of myself as a lawyer. I know a lot of lawyers view that as a big part of their professional identity and even personal identity. And in my case that wasn't so much a big part of who I am or who I was at that point. And I do think that, many of the people that we have on our legal team, you see when they come from a law firm, their emails are, six paragraphs long defined terms, absolutely defined terms.

There might be a bullet that somehow ran onto the page, but basically there's no bullets, right? It's all paragraphs and it's. And, what do you do when you get an email that's eight paragraphs of text…

Art: Just go down to the office. What does this mean?

Craig: Exactly. And that's you notice that difference, right?

Where as you get veteran, you get the conclusion first, instead of at the end and the Iraq structure that we all learned. And you say, here's covet of a couple of their bullets are going on is, or does, if you want additional context and, happy to chat or any of those, but you invite the conversation you give your view.

That's just even the written form, let alone just calling people up and texting and everything else that goes into, human communication and it's different with generations too, and individuals. So it's a lot of knowing who are the people and that's, I think what so much of it comes down to is, knowing your CEO, knowing your sales client, do they like texts?

Do they hate texts? It's different for you. 

Art: It makes total sense. Let's get into your your, I think I can call it your dual roles a little bit, right? So you do sit on top of legal and corporate affairs. And to me that was always the dream of, I got an executive MBA while I was a lawyer.

I'm not sure how useful that I think that's pretty useful, but I think the idea. You could see yourself doing other things, contributing value in other ways. And so how does that work when you're have these managing these two roles? Cause maybe describe the rules a bit. And are you able to seamlessly step back and forth?

Are they so complimentary that you don't need to take one half off hat off and put another one on talk to us a little bit? How that works? 

Craig: Yeah. Maybe. With something that I put together a few years ago, maybe five years ago, which is a word document that is entitled what matters to me. And it's almost like a personal statement about values and you know how I like to work some ways you can be like an instruction manual, do I like texts?

Do I like phone calls with, if you get a new boss, how do you interact with the bus? So it put it together with that. And one of the things that I always make really clear is, family comes first and that's, I work really hard and I really liked the work that I do, and I care immensely about our beer company and about the beer industry.

But, there are, that's a secondary priority to the first priority. And that I think helps in establishing that this is not just title and, a robot it's, a person who has things going on as well. And in, in that document, one of the things that I put in there is some of the different jobs that I've had, press carrier, bagger of groceries roofing, commercial, roofing, lawn sprinkling working as a librarian and it goes through and then some of them will get to, the general council or like head of corporate affairs. Project management was a big thing that I did with the city of new.

So it almost, shows here's my biases and what I've done or different areas, and everybody is coming to their role, especially if you're thinking about it from a legal side, yes. You have your lawyers, but you've probably done other things along the way, whether it's volunteering or whether it's serving on a board, at different jobs that you've had for pay or not, or maybe you've, raised a family and kids, there's a lot of different things that people are looking at.

You're a lawyer or a non lawyer, which is a term I always, I hate it's more what are the different lenses that you take in those situations? And I believe, legal and corporate affairs are very different roles and very different personalities generally that are attracted to those, lawyers for the most part.

And these are all generalizations, but like written words and structured. And having it thought through and very much focused on logic and verse to chaos, basically it's creating order in the world. And, corporate affairs operates in the political realm where sometimes, the reason that policy gets made is because person a hates person B.

And if you know that, then a lot of things start falling into place. And you don't really put a lot in writing. Cause most of it is going to come back in some way and not be helpful, but you spend your whole day talking on the phone and you love that. And you're spending a lot of time there, again, big generalizations, but they're very different kind of personality types in a way that are connected to those different types of roles.

And so there are things where you, it's not like a question comes to you labeled when you're in one of these dual roles, your CEO will ask something like. Are you good with this? Yeah. And it's up to you to then think about it. All right. From a compliance perspective, we've checked the FCPA angle from a legal perspective.

It's not violating anything as a law. On the communication side, we haven't missed an opportunity to communicate about this with different stakeholders. Externally, all of our internal stakeholders are briefed on the government affairs side. We've been thinking about it from the different regulators that are there.

Here's who's going to like it. Here's who's not going to like it. And you look at it. Lots of different lenses. Those are some of the ones and then you come back with we're good or we're not, we have to check with whatever person, but it's, I do think you have to look at it through different lenses, because if you miss one of those lenses and you're the person who's there, if you haven't checked your FCPA, all of a sudden everything else can be wonderful.

And then you've just created a major liability for your company. So there is a lot of looking at it through those lenses and candidly, sometimes you miss things. Do your best and you learn from that and you always try to get better yourself and your team and the organization. But those are the kinds of questions you get.

Are you good with this? And it's not like it's labeled, this is a compliance question where you must check whatever.

Art: In some ways it's good to have all of that almost streamlined in one person. So that's responsible about it, right? That, that goes through the tasks that you just went through of thinking of all those different buckets of potential issues out there.

And you mentioned, managing stakeholders, right? So that's. That's one rule. I think that's overlooked a lot. And people maybe who have never been in house council before, don't quite appreciate. Yes. Some people call in-house lawyers, basically glorified traffic cops, it's like this, Mr.

Know, or tell people, ask them to have their hall pass, please slow down. But at the same time, it's not that because we inherently like to do that. It's because. People rush into decisions without maybe having consulted all the proper business units, about those decisions. And in that sense, we are the masters of process and in that, and maybe it's part of managing risk or it's just to make sure that we don't do something that someone's going to complain about later.

Everything's properly documented, but then you mentioned on the same time, your role now is also to manage the external stakeholders as well, even as an introvert, as you say. So how do you. How do you do? I think the audience would be very interested if you talk about that side a little bit more because that's, I think lawyers, we are, maybe outside counsel, you do have to be a little more extrovert or you at least do have to be more out there working with clients and doing business development and so forth.

But. And an in-house role. You don't see that as much or for someone who's also holding an in-house role. So how I shorten this question? So how do you, I focus focused on the introvert part and lawyers lawyers and introvert, introvert and being introverted do often go a lot.

Hand-in-hand for the external part, the corporate affairs, part of your dual role. How do you. How do you deal with external stakeholders? What about your personality? Do you have to dig into to find that part interesting and fun and be good at it? Yeah. 

Craig: One of the realizations that I've had over time is that everybody loves talking about themselves.

Maybe not in large, Ted talks. But walking around in an office and you say, what are you working on? Or, what's happening. And people like talking about the work they're doing, they like telling their story. This podcast is a great example. You, you been, most people like talking about themselves when they feel that they have.

A safe space or a trusting environment to be able to share themselves because most people are working really hard on something interesting or something that they find interesting. And not that many people want to hear about it. But when you have somebody who actually wants to hear what they're saying, that's phenomenal and the same is true with external stakeholders.

There's a lot of listening first and understanding and building up that relationship. Before you then come with, here's our excise tax policy that we're putting on the table. It's understanding, what matters to this person and how is it that they're navigating their situation. And it's not that, there's one type of stakeholder.

There's a very different relationship with the Teamsters in the United States. And they have their, of course their own dynamics and has their Bush, whereas the general council before. Has the longest relationship with the Teamsters. And every stakeholder has their own stakeholders that they're managing and trying to understand a little bit what that, what their environment is I think is helpful.

And so asking that question and asking, not just that question, but many different questions to just try to understand what the person is about and what matters to them, I think is very useful. And also we're just being very conscious of people's time, right? Sometimes when you have a meeting, it's a five minute meeting, it's a 30 minute meeting.

It's understanding exactly how much time is there and what is it that you need accomplished, but also what is it that they need to accomplish or coming out of that meeting as well. And so almost, shifting seats and seeing the world through their eyes as much as possible, I think is very helpful.

And there's a lot of great attributes coming from, introverted people and lawyers in general about that structure and about actively listening and caring. Those are things that, I think extroverted people have more of a tendency to gloss over and not necessarily listen as proactively because more extroverted people have found the generalization again are usually looking for that space to say something, whereas interviews.

I don't really want to see something. They want the other person to keep talking or saying something. And so they're trying to they're listening and finding those next questions or that next path. So I think there's a lot, but it's knowing their stakeholder and then trying to see the world through their view and also, advocate for what matters for you.

Because of course you're having a con you're having a conversation. And so might you want something out of it? Maybe it's that you want to get to know the person better. Maybe you find them aspiration. Maybe it's that there's some specific policy agenda that's coming in, whatever it is, you have to know of course what your is involved from your side, but also what's involved from their side and that you're being a good partner in those situations too, because one-sided relationships almost never work in the long run.

Art: People tend to shut each other out or stop thinking about this is a partnership, right? If you, but if you're coming in right from the beginning asking quick, I think w what, you are basically saying to the person, look, I don't have a set agenda here. I don't have, I don't have my mind already made up and predisposed, and I'm just going to try and get what I need out of you and then move on to the next task.

That's but that doesn't come naturally to most people, I think.

Craig: I think it's great. Just practicing, just being curious, because of course, lawyers and. All kids and most people are curious and they want to know more about things and we

Art: call my son and mr. Mr. 为什么. Mr. Why. Because he never stops asking questions. 

Craig: Yeah. And I love that about kids. I think it's amazing if you can preserve some of those qualities throughout life where you're told no in so many ways, and you can retain that curiosity. And people are fascinating. Everybody is fascinating.

Has something unique about. And so if you approach it from that situation, it's less about, oh, what is it that's going on? Or what are the three points or it's know what is, what makes this person unique? And if you have the time to be able to explore that's pretty incredible to do. And that builds deep relationships before there's, asks and you might never have asked, but they might have asked for you.

And then you went to respond. But it's about building those long-term relationships. Sometimes. 

Art: It's about it's about building that relationship when you don't have anything to ask, because then it's pure. Or and then that person may come back to help you later on when you need something.

Craig: But yeah but one of the things, actually, I read this recently by a great author, Dorie Clark, I think Clark is her last name. But she said, when meeting people, I have a one year, no ask Paula. And I think there's a lot of validity to that. When you meet somebody who's, aspirational or so that you could see learning from them or doing business with them in the future, something on, it's more important to solidify the relationship.

And get to know the person and that they trust you, and that they're willing to spend time with you. And so a great way to enforce that is no asks for a year. And you just don't ask anything that's coming out. That depends on the stakeholder if that's actually feasible or not, especially when you're thinking long-term about your personal or your professional career development.

I think it's a good rule to at least be conscious of in those situations. You probably get the same thing where you get spanned on LinkedIn or one of the others and people say, hi, great to connect with you. Here's my CV. Or, hi, great to meet with you. We'd love five, five minutes to talk through this, 40 page deck that we've just sent over to you and that's not a great way.

Art: And then they even started more, two more time messaging two more times that why haven't you knew what you responded. 

Craig: Yeah, exactly. What are you? 

Art: Yeah. Yeah. 

Craig: What are you offering? It's too much of a one-way. Yeah. There's other ways to build relationships. It's the same thing. Dating for me was a very long time ago, but.

You, you wouldn't get married in the first one. You get to know the person and find out if there's actually a good fit there. And then things develop from there. Speaking of LinkedIn, 

Art: for anyone who doesn't, who has had not caught Craig on LinkedIn yet, he's a, he's an active user. His posts are highly liked.

And I think that's mostly because they're very genuine and and they're all. Showing the great things that other people do are doing, I think, at your company. And that's actually a question I had as well, which is, how do you try to make other people look good? I think that's, I think in my six years in house, if we had one takeaway, it seems.

The way to do well at a company. However you want to define that is to make other people look good. And the best is if you have a sincere, genuine desire to make other people look good. And then it also helps you maybe in your own professional development, how do you do that? How do you have that as you have a mindset when you're in a big company, especially.

Craig: Yeah, no. And thanks for saying that. All right. That's that's good feedback to know. And I do think there's something that is. Really important, which is, do you have people that you respect and that you work with? And in my company I do and very blessed about that. And there's so it's easier in a way to be able to shine the spotlight on different people or show amazing work that the team has done, that a person has done and be able to sh to showcase a lot of that work that connects in with the broader strategy or the values that I hold.

Th the company holds there was a great quote and I forget who said it, but it was, it's amazing. The things you can get done when you don't care who gets the credit. And there's a lot of truth to that. In some ways I think you can almost go too far to make sure that you if you become invisible, then that's a problem also because it is important that your own achievements are recognized, but it's much.

Important that the team achieves something together. And the way that the team achieves it together is often by making people look good. It's the same in politics. It's the same in for-profit and non-profit, it's helping people answer to their stakeholders. So it's knowing who their stakeholders are and what matters and that you help them.

Boost their image. And you think about that, you, I can tell you how great Craig is at leading a team and maybe that's true and maybe it's not, but you can ask my leadership team, you can ask the broader team and then you'll really know, especially if it's a one-on-one conversation and then you'll find out if that's the situation and the same, it's the same thing with.

With helping other people look good. It's one thing. If the person says it about themselves it's a very different one. If a third party is talking about you and you say, arts PR podcast is fantastic. I say that has a different level than if you're saying that about your own. And I think that's something that, especially in large corporate, you're always chasing the next commercial hurdle or the next objection.

But it's just taking those 30 seconds and recognizing the great work and that sets it up much better for collaboration and trust the next time as well, because there are a lot of points of conflict. And so you need to have that well of trust and respect. And that comes in a lot of ways by shining the light in positive ways and recognizing those contributions of your.

Art: So that's a good segue to too far for our last question. Also about team, in, as you've probably seen, especially in a lot of our listeners would know too, in Asia and China in particular, there's a lot of young talent here and it doesn't matter if you're talking about lawyers or whatever a function or a company, but that the talent is also quite ambitious.

And it there's always been an expectation. I think of promotion and more responsibility and big pay increases every two years and stuff. And I wonder you sitting in managing a large team and maybe even competitive forces within the team for more responsibility and promotions and things.

How do you manage that? And do you think is it a challenge working with talent? Because they're so ambitious, because they have that expectation of, I need to be promoted. Otherwise I'm going to leave to another company. 

Craig: Yeah. I think that is something that you see more of in Asia, but I don't think it's unique to Asia.

I think there is, there are, amazing people who are amazingly ambitious and you almost have to approach, those people are, from my perspective, anyone on your team. From a similar stakeholder perspective, which is what is it that they want out of this job or this role, or what matters to them at this particular point in their career or their life.

And that's that can be very different even for the same person about whether they want to go and join, a FinTech company versus if they want to join a beer company that's been around for hundreds of years and is evolving, is doing all kinds of digital transformation, but is not one of these.

You're going to be a billionaire or you're going to go to another company because it's going to go bankrupt, right? Like it's, there's a different risk profile that people are looking at in those different situations. So I think you need to be really clear about what your employer value proposition is for employees in general, and then for your specific employee.

What matters to them in this role? Are they looking to get more general counsel experience of a country? Are they looking to grow up through the organization? Are they looking to be able to do corporate affairs for the first time? Are they looking to transition into the finance team? Do they want to become a general manager and more on the commercial side?

What are those things that, that matter to them that you can start adding more of those in, right? Because there's always the bare bones of what needs to get. And then the company, the strategy, but then there's, from the Google example 20%, one fifth of your, you choose one day a week, you work on your own projects.

There's a bit of that, that you can build into your team as well and say, okay, this person really likes technology and user interface. Great. We're getting them involved in this project because that's something that they're really passionate about, which by the way, they'll do a better job on because they care and they're passionate about.

And that builds up their skills and then they find out, maybe I really don't like that, or maybe I love it. And I want to go onto the it team. And then, the tech and analytics, and get into analytics in a very big way. And that wasn't a path because I was a lawyer, but it is a path now within a big multi-national.

And so there's a lot of those kinds of like role adjacent pieces of project or Jason that you can pull in if you know what people care about and where they want their career to be good. And careers can go, up an org chart, but they can expand out and they can jump between functions or they can take on different areas or they can have, PMO leadership with project management office.

So there's all kinds of different ways that careers can develop. And that might be very different even for the same person based on where they are in their, their family situation or. Their professional development or what matters to them at that point. If it's geography or capabilities, but I think a lot of it starts with knowing the person and what matters to them.

Art: Yeah. Sometimes they don't necessarily need a change in title or something like that. Just needed some variety and doing interesting and new things that fit with their personality. 

Craig: Yeah, absolutely. And it's a big one. I won't leave it off even though I under index in this sense. You need to keep, you need to spend the most time on your most talented people.

And the inverse is usually the case. The people who are causing a lot of the issues are not performing is naturally where water flows downhill and where you gravitate towards, but it's the talented people. Eh, lots of talented people, but it's the, almost the top talents that I think really benefit a lot from an additional attention and focus and making sure that they have opportunities and financial compensation as well, because it's always, this is the pot of money, as you're thinking about budgets and everything else.

And those are very difficult to say, But you need to make sure that top talent and those that you're grooming as your successor, because you should always be grooming as successors that you're thinking about them and what they need. Just as much as the people who are making more noise or who are having more difficulties or you're hearing feedback negatively from other parts of the business.

And that's great. And that's normally where your attention is drawn, but it takes a lot to focus it on the people who will be your successors and who you want. Several successors that the CEO can choose whoever that is. Once you've moved onto something else. 

Art: That's a very good point and not something that I think would be very obvious to most people, but it's a bit counterintuitive but when you describe it like that, it makes perfect sense.

Thanks, Craig. This has been an absolute thrill. I think your experience here your entire career, and then leading up to this point and managing the team and having these multiple roles. And I think also being an introvert and having time. You're quite thoughtful about all of this, I think is what will come through to the audience.

So I think that's really a lot of valuable information, knowledge that you've shared with us that you've shared with us. So really appreciate your time, Craig. Thanks for coming on.

Craig: My pleasure and yeah, no, thanks for having me on. It's been great and yeah, I love meeting people. For anyone who's out there who wants to compare notes happy to, you mentioned LinkedIn as one of the areas, is 

Art: That the best way for people to contact you?

Craig: Yeah, absolutely. And I know everybody is time poor in the, in these situations, but it is great to be able to meet people and grab beers. And especially in a place like China, that's changing so fast. It's always great meeting people and understanding how they think through their situation and the world and what's going on in their heads.

Just something I try to make a lot of time for that as well. I can tell. 

Art: Absolutely. Thanks again for doing the podcast.

Craig: No, my pleasure. It's been it's been phenomenal, so really appreciate the time. 

Art: Okay. Thanks. That's a wrap.