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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.

Callum Connects

Clairine Runtung, Investment Manager of Convergence Ventures

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Early-stage venture capitalist, Clairine Runtung, shares her story and passion for helping build Indonesia’s technology ecosystem. In her role, she helps local entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, while also finding time to coach and mentor young women in venture capital through an organisation she co-founded in early 2017.

What’s your story?
Having lived in 4 different cities within 3 different countries throughout my career working in finance, I had always been drawn to not only numbers but also diversity, people and their stories. When an opportunity came about for me to join a tech VC firm in Jakarta, I jumped at the chance, after working for a number of years in a boutique investment consulting firm, a global asset management firm and a non-profit foundation.

I currently lead the investment team at Convergence Ventures, an Indonesia-based early-stage venture capital fund. My work includes sourcing deals, conducting due diligence, reviewing legal documents and most importantly, working with my colleagues in Investment, HR and Business Development teams to support our founders. My job requires relentless intellectual curiosity, analytical and communication skills, and ultimately passion to help the shaping and building of Indonesia’s tech ecosystem.

Early in 2017, I co-founded a Young Women in VC (renamed SheVC Indonesia in September 2017, as part of the global Pan-Asian SheVC network), focused on networking, mentoring and building a community for junior to mid-level female VCs. Our local membership grew to over 20 people within 6 months, and I personally mentored 3 young women just joining the industry. Aside from tech VC, I am also involved in being a Council for Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa, a non-profit organization focusing on youth and education, as well as being a mentor and a judge to a number of local tech startup events and competition. Beginning September, I will be attending Yale School of Management to pursue a 2-year MBA program.

What excites you most about your industry?
The never-ending learning, rapid progress, and people attempting to solve real problems through technology. I cannot wait to see what will unfold within tech-VC space in Indonesia in the next 5-10 years. My team and I think we are following China’s growth trajectory though to get there we need major support from the Government and foreign investors.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. I worked for 2.5 years in Singapore. I was educated in the United States and lived there but I am still very much deeply-rooted in Asia. After grad school, I plan on moving back to Asia for sure.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Jakarta and Singapore for two extremely different reasons.
Jakarta, because the city’s urban challenge actually shapes you to become a resilient hustler. Not to mention the fact that the city has a dynamic tech VC landscape that’s rapidly evolving year by year.
Singapore, because I take pleasure in how efficient, effective and structured the city state is!

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“The only way out is through”
“Leave your mark, build a legacy, no matter how tiny you think it is.”

Who inspires you?
My dad and everyone around me who was not born with silver spoons in their mouth.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It’s amazing how your body can truly adjust to the power of your mind. I have recently increased the frequency of my Intermittent Fasting routine, from only once a week to twice a week. Essentially, twice in a week I’d fast between 22-24 hours. Though skeptical and challenging at first, after a month, I rarely feel hungry/starving on those two scheduled fasting days. Interestingly, I also feel the most productive at work on days that I am fasting.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. If there is anything I’d like to tell myself over and over again, is to never regret and to look only forward.

How do you unwind?
Take a hot shower, drink a cup of tea and read a book (I alternate between fiction and non-fiction) or watch videos (I also alternate between entertaining and educating videos). On some days, you can find me winding down over a nice dinner with friends or family.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali, Jogjakarta and Manado. All cities are in Indonesia.
Bali for its beaches, sunshine and the feeling of being surrounded by carefree people. Jogjakarta for its Javanese cultural and heritage. Manado because it’s where my dad was born and where my grandparents live. In my opinion, each city has something different to offer that contributes to my way of relaxing.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Golden Passport – Duff McDonald

Shameless plug for your business:
Instagram Story and straight up telling friends, acquaintances and even strangers about how awesome the work that I do is.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clairineruntung/
Personal email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@clairineruntung though I have been inactive for years. I am much more active on LinkedIn these days. Find me on IG @clairineruntung as well.

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Rishabh Singhvi & Varun Saraf, Co-Founders of Why Q

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Surprised by the lack of delivery services available for local Singaporean hawker stall foods, Rishabh and Varun started their own delivery service.

What’s your story?
Varun and I moved to Singapore in 2008 and soon turned into foodies. After completing our studies at SMU, we worked in corporate offices in the Singapore CBD for 4 years. Here, we faced the problem of long queues and found it hard to find feasible delivery options on a day to day basis. We made it our goal to help others like us, so they don’t face the same problem of finding affordable yet tasty options to eat their daily meal. The name asks all those queuing up at food courts and hawker centres a simple question – Why Queue … when we can bring Singapore’s favorite hawker food to you?

What excites you most about your industry?
The Hawker culture is the most exciting and intriguing part of the food industry in Singapore. It is deep-rooted in the local Singapore culture. There is rich variety of cuisines available under one roof, food is delicious and very affordable. We were very surprised how this part of the food industry was completely ignored by other food deliveries.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and brought up in India and have been staying in Singapore for the past 10 years.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
The ease of running a start-up and the professionalism makes Singapore my favourite city for business. It has the most business-friendly regulations, low start-up costs and takes only a week to register and get your business going.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” – Jeff Bezos

Who inspires you?
Hawker Uncle and Aunties are our Hawker Heroes. Most of the stalls are family-run businesses. The dedication and hard-work that they put in is commendable. They come to the hawker centre at 3am to start preparing food for the day and leave only in the evening after cleaning and washing everything.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
We are leaning so much about our hawker partners through our #HawkersOfSG series, inspired by #HumansOfNewYork. For example, one of our hawker partners was into advertising (until the 2008 recession started, after which he started one of the most popular hawker stalls in the country) while the other used to sell and ride Harley Davidson bikes (and now sells black pepper rice bowls). Their stories and how they turned into our Hawker Heroes continues to inspire us and blow us away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I think I haven’t reached that stage in life yet where I look back and want to do things differently.

How do you unwind?
Watching and playing football 🙂

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali, definitely. One of the most beautiful and chill places.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Shameless plug for your business:
Cheapest and largest Hawker Food delivery in Singapore.

How can people connect with you?
On whatsapp at 90268776 or email at [email protected]

Twitter handle?
We’re on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whyqsg/ and Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/whyqsg/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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