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Colombia     IN-HOUSE COUNSEL   

Inspiring Women In Law - An interview with Margaret Hirsch Coleman, Legal & Compliance Director for Adidas in Colombia

Latin Counsel spoke with Margaret Hirsch Coleman, Chilean lawyer with more than 18 years of international experience in corporate advisory roles and in law firms. The leader of the legal team at Adidas Colombia spoke about the new challenges in the Legal & Compliance sector, the milestones of her career, and the empowerment of female professionals.

Marina Vanni

Latin Counsel: How was your journey within the legal area of Adidas?

Margaret Hirsch Coleman: I started in 2017 as legal director in Adidas Chile, after having worked for several years in another company, but in a completely different industry, and previously, in law firms. For this reason, it was very interesting to learn about retail and how from the legal area we could support the achievement of the company’s objectives, not only by providing excellent service to the different teams we work with, but also by understanding the business very well, in order to participate in decision-making, which often goes beyond the legal.

I worked for 6 years in this role, a period in which we built an incredible team and with which we achieved great results, participating in different projects related to issues as diverse as sports sponsorship contracts, brand protection programs or sustainability initiatives, among many others.

Currently, I have the privilege of leading the legal team in Adidas Colombia, a country where we moved with my family, and where we are very happy and grateful for receiving us in such a warm and welcoming way.

LC: Can you tell us about a successful program or initiative you have led?

MHC: One of the focuses for us as a legal team is to maintain a very close and permanent connection with all the areas we work with. To this end, generating different channels of communication with the business is fundamental, in order to know and understand very well what their needs are, to define the common objectives we will work towards and to share the different action plans to achieve them.

In this way, and to reinforce this communication, we have created different work instances, such as maintaining an operational rhythm with the teams we serve, sending a legal newsletter to the entire company on a quarterly basis and holding a "Legal Week" event, where we invite everyone to attend different conversation and learning sessions on relevant aspects of our work, such as contract negotiation, the protection of personal data and our compliance policies, among many others.

LC: In your experience, how has the Legal and Compliance field evolved in recent years? 

MHC: First of all, I think that in Latin America we are facing an increasingly complex regulation, considering that the legal framework is constantly changing and we have seen how the scope of application and scope of the regulations is much broader, with not only a greater number of laws, but also a much greater intersection between them.

On the other hand, we are facing great challenges in terms of Compliance in our region, being more and more relevant the role played by companies in the fight against corruption and in the adoption of good corporate practices. I believe that we can make a fundamental contribution from our organizations, actively generating and promoting a culture of compliance that is not satisfied with ensuring that legal obligations are fulfilled, but that seeks to go much further, placing respectful, ethical and upright behavior as the cornerstone of our behavior and relationship with stakeholders.

LC: How do you think progress can be made towards greater inclusion of women professionals in the legal field?

MHC: In my opinion, a fundamental aspect to achieve this is to make visible the great female talent that exists in our profession. Many times we find situations where lawyers are invited, highlighted or recognized without stopping to think about whether there is a gender bias in the choice, losing the opportunity to listen to - and at the same time empower - extraordinary female lawyers who can contribute a lot to the discussion, sharing a different perspective or proposing innovative ideas to address a particular problem.

On the other hand, I think it is also very important to generate instances of connection and support among us, where there are different spaces to share experiences in relation to our professional development, and where it is possible to meet women who serve as a reference for the younger generations. It is in these instances where, for example, it is possible to share that our profession can not only be practiced within law firms or as part of the public administration, but that there are excellent possibilities for development in the role of in-house lawyer, as has been my case.

LC: What advice would you give to women lawyers looking to enter the corporate world?

MHC: My first piece of advice would be to never lose the desire to learn. Always being attentive and open to learning new things, participating in new projects and fully understanding the business allows us to learn about different topics and thus grow professionally.

Secondly, I would recommend always trusting in yourself and daring to take on new challenges. Many times we are presented with opportunities that represent changes that we have not planned to make or that take us out of our comfort zone, but that are well worth trying.

Finally, I would tell them not to forget to always enjoy the process, seeking to make the most of each professional stage they are in.

Interview: Marina Vanni

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