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Women on Top in Tech – Sue McLean, Of Counsel at Morrison & Foerster.

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Here is my interview with Sue McLean, Of Counsel of Morrison & Foerster. Sue McLean is an Of Counsel lawyer in the London office of international law firm Morrison and Foerster. Sue is a member of the firm’s Technology Transactions Group and Global Sourcing Group and leads the firm’s FinTech practice in London. Sue has over 16 years of experience advising clients on their strategic technology deals and business models, including outsourcing, technology infrastructure and digital transformation projects, cloud computing, e-/m-commerce, and social media. Sue’s clients range from emerging companies to large multi-nationals and she advises across many business sectors, but with particular experience in financial services.

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What makes you do what you do?

I’m fascinated by new technology and love the fact that the law is always playing catch-up. It means that I’m always learning. If I think back 10 years ago, we were dealing with the emergence of cloud and social media. Five years ago – the internet of things, robotics. Today its blockchain, VR/AR, AI. There’s also a huge variety in my work. In the same week, I can be working on a multi-million pound deal for a bank that is outsourcing its IT and network infrastructure, advising a FinTech on the terms of use and privacy policy for its new app, and advising a technology company on the legal implications of rolling out its new business model across Europe.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I worked very hard to provide a great service to my colleagues and clients so that I became a go-to person for the most challenging and complex technology projects. As a tech lawyer, clients want a deal-maker, someone who understands their commercial drivers and works well with the business. So building good relationships with the technical and business teams, as well as the in-house legal team is vital.  Remaining curious and keeping up-to-date with new technology is also essential so that you can advise clients of the legal implications of their new tech projects and business offerings. As with any sector, you also need to build your network, both internal networks and external networks so that you build your reputation as a trusted advisor.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?

At university or law school I certainly didn’t expect to become a lawyer specializing in technology projects. After all, STEM subjects were not my favorite subjects at school and my experience with technology was purely as a consumer, which was pretty limited. Those were the days before the Internet and smartphones. After spending time with a commercial law firm during university I knew that I wanted to work in business law, but I still wasn’t exactly sure what type of law I would end up specializing in. However, during my two-year training contract, I spent time working on a major IT outsourcing project plus various e-commerce projects and I found the sector and the work really exciting. That was the late ‘90s and the pace of technology change was huge.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?

I have had various mentors over the years. Technology law is still pretty male dominated at the senior levels, so most of my mentors have been men. In terms of finding them it was organic – they tended to be colleagues or ex-colleagues. My female mentors have tended to be women outside of technology law and again it’s been more organic, than deliberate. However, there are many women in technology that I consider role models. Women who really led the way like Stephanie Shirley – just an incredible woman in terms of the scale of what she achieved in business, the adversity she has dealt with during her life and her generosity and humility. But also lots of other women in tech that are less well known – women creating and leading tech businesses, helping drive diversity in their organizations, giving back.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?

We have a very talented group of junior lawyers here at MoFo. I feel very strongly that to keep talented people motivated, you need to give them responsibility early on and harness their natural enthusiasm – get them involved in business development, invite their views, encourage them to take initiative and make them feel invested in the business. We greatly benefit from their energy and their new ideas. I also encourage my junior colleagues to take charge of their careers right from the beginning, focus on what they want to achieve, highlight their successes, and look for mentors and sponsors. It’s also important to create open communication – provide them with regular constructive feedback (and seek feedback from them).

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

I am a passionate champion and advocate for women in law and in technology. Women make up more than half of lawyers entering the profession, but we are still seeing very small percentages at the most senior levels. In technology, the challenge is even greater. Not enough women are entering the sector, but there are also challenges in retaining women in the sector and progressing women to management positions. It’s absolutely clear that we need to get more girls and young women studying STEM subjects and considering technology as a career. That means starting early with school age children (and, importantly, their parents and teachers); breaking down stereotypes, highlighting role models and raising awareness of the diversity of roles available in the sector. I’m very pleased to support organizations like the Stemettes who are doing a terrific job encouraging girls and young women to get involved with technology.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?

For me, a great leader is someone that loves what they do and instills confidence, inspires and brings the best out in their team. Someone that has high ‘emotional intelligence’, is open-minded and invites the views of others while being able to be decisive and make difficult decisions. Given the fact that technology is continuously evolving, you also need to be love learning and be adaptable to change.

Advice for others?

I’m a big fan of Facebook’s mantra “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” It may be a stereotype, but I think women can have a tendency to over-think things and avoid taking risks, which can hold us back. Sometimes we need to push ourselves outside our natural comfort zone. Take that stretch assignment, apply for that job, agree to speak at that event. That’s why I loved this year’s International Women’s Day theme; “Be Bold for Change”.


To learn more about Morrison & Foerster, please see https://www.mofo.com.

I am a huge fan and cheerleader of Women Leaders — If you know of an AMAZING Woman Founder, CEO, Leader in Tech or you are one yourself — Write me here.
AMPLIFY Conscious Business Leadership with me.

Entrepreneurship

Will Financial Liberalisation Trigger a Crisis in China?

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The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been liberalizing its financial system for nearly 4 decades. While it now has a comprehensive financial system with a large number of financial institutions and large financial assets, its financial policies are still highly repressive. These repressive financial policies are now a major hindrance to the PRC’s economic growth.

The PRC is at the beginning of a new wave of financial liberalization that is necessary for supporting the country’s strong economic growth. The country’s leaders have already unveiled a comprehensive program of financial reform, which includes 11 specific reform measures in three broad areas: creating a level-playing field (such as allowing private banks and developing inclusive finance), freeing the market mechanism (such as reforming interest rate and exchange rate regimes and achieving capital account convertibility), and improving regulation.

But could financial liberalization lead to a major financial crisis in the PRC? What would be the consequences for financial stability as the PRC moves to further liberalize its financial system? If the PRC repeats the painful experiences of Mexico, Indonesia, and Thailand, then it might not be able to achieve its original goal of overcoming the middle-income trap.

International experiences of financial liberalization, especially those of middle-income economies, should offer important lessons for the PRC. In our new research, based on cross-country data analysis, we find that financial liberalization, in general, reduces, not increases, financial instability. This powerful conclusion is valid whether financial instability is measured by crisis occurrence or by fragility indicators, such as impaired loans and net charge-offs. The only exception is that financial liberalization does not appear to significantly lower the probability of systemic banking crises, although it does lower the risk indicators for banks. These results have higher statistical significance and are greater in magnitude for the middle-income group than for the entire sample.

The insignificant impact on banking crises, however, should be interpreted with caution. One of the possible explanations is that under the repressed financial regime, the government supports banks with an implicit or explicit blanket guarantee. This reduces the probability of an explicit banking crisis, although the banking risks may be even greater because of the moral hazard problem. In fact, government protection of banks could also increase the probability of a sovereign debt crisis or even a currency crisis before financial liberalization.

If financial liberalization significantly reduces the likelihood of financial crises, especially in middle-income economies, then why did some middle-income economies experience financial crises following liberalization? We further investigate whether the pace of liberalization, the supervisory structure, and the institutional environment matter for outcomes of financial liberalization.

We obtain three main findings. First, an excessively rapid pace of financial liberalization may increase financial risks. The net impact on financial instability depends on the relative importance of the “liberalization effect” and the “pace effect.” In essence, what the “pace effect” captures could simply be the prerequisite conditions and reform sequencing that are well discussed in the literature. Second, the quality of institutions, such as investor protection and law and order, also matter. International experiences indicate that investor protection can significantly reduce the probability of financial crises. Third, the central bank’s participation in financial regulation is helpful for reducing financial risks during financial liberalization. This is probably because central banks always play central roles in financial liberalization, especially in the liberalization of interest rates, exchange rates, and the capital account. If a central bank is responsible for financial regulation, its liberalization policies might be more cautious and prudent.

Our research findings offer important policy implications for the PRC. (1) Further financial liberalization is necessary not only for sustaining strong economic growth but also for containing or reducing financial risks. (2) Gradual reform may still work better than the “big bang” approach, and sequencing is very important for avoiding the painful financial volatilities that many other middle-income countries have seen. (3) The government should also focus more on improving the quality of other institutions, especially market discipline, to contain financial risks. (4) It is better for the central bank to participate in financial regulation. The new regulatory system should focus exclusively on financial stability and shift from regulating institutions toward regulating functions. It should also become relatively independent to increase accountability.

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About the Author 

This submitted article was written by  and  of Asia Pathways, the blog of The Asian Development Bank Institute was established in 1997 in Tokyo, Japan, to help build capacity, skills, and knowledge related to poverty reduction and other areas that support long-term growth and competitiveness in developing economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Chrissa McFarlane, Founder and CEO of Patientory

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Chrissa McFarlane is the Founder and CEO of Patientory, a patient-centered enterprise solution on the blockchain to store, secure and access healthcare information in real-time. She is a leader and an entrepreneur with a passion for creating cutting-edge healthcare products that transform the face of healthcare delivery in the United States of America and abroad.

What makes you do what you do?
I am passionate about helping people, especially when it comes to their healthcare. This is my daily motivation for pushing forward in one of the most challenging industries to innovate.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Through my networks and maintaining a strong advisory board, I am able to make an impact.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I took on the role and decided to start this startup primary to follow my passion and be an inspiration for other women who are seeking to start their own business.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
I have multiple mentors. I met them through my networks.

How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
Through introductions and after speaking with them I saw a character alignment that prompted me to ask them to by my mentor.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
Through one on one meetings, and team building.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I consciously support diversity because a diversity of thought breeds success in the workplace. It is important to have different lenses of thought to be represented. Our company is a representation of the people we serve.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
A great leader in healthcare is equipped to serve the people. Unlike many other industries, healthcare is centered around sustaining the health of the human being. You certainly need to encompass a passion for seeing individuals live and lead healthy lifestyles.

Advice for others?
In building emerging technology, education is always key to success.

Our first Inaugural Blockchain Healthcare Summit will take place on May 31st in Atlanta, GA where we will discuss the current state of blockchain projects and opportunities for the future.


If you’d like to get in touch with Chrissa McFarlane, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrissamcfarlane/

To learn more about Patientory, please click here.

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