ACC ANNUAL CONFERENCE: Building Bridges 16-18 April 2023

ACC descends on Brussels for a few days and brings together legal professionals for their annual conference with as topic “Building Bridges” held from 16 until 18 April 2023.

ACC descends on Brussels for a few days and brings together legal professionals for their annual conference with as topic “Building Bridges” held from 16 until 18 April 2023. Many of them are also members of our Institute. We asked some of them about their commitment as speakers in this organisation and their drive to bring their topic to life in practice and the engagement they are willing to take to let our profession shine.

What brought you to choose the topic building bridges for this years’ conference?

Cristina Alexandrescu, company lawyer, GSK
This year's programme “Building Bridges” is about how in-house counsels can continue to be effective, from legal, business and personal perspectives in an unpredictable and fast-changing world.

Jean-Etienne Bruno, company lawyer, Trane Technologies
In-house counsels are strategically placed to connect companies, the financial sector, NGOs and governments who all play decisive roles in accelerating the transition to a global economic model that fully supports the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.”

Yves Heijmans, company lawyer, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company
The programme of the ACC Europe Conference has been developed by in-house lawyers for in-house lawyers, therefore the content will be highly engaging and relevant to your everyday role.  Members of the Institute can exceptionally register at the Super Early Bird Rate.  There are also day passes available for those who can only attend one day of the conference.  We have over 300 registered participants.  Join us and exchange experiences with colleagues from across Europe.

What do you see as most important skills for the company lawyer to build internally and externally bridges?

Philip Eyskens, company lawyer, Bekaert
I consider active listening one of the most critical leadership skills in building bridges. It starts by inquiring and simply asking questions : I am always positively surprised how open and keen people generally are to share their insights, and am also not concerned about asking the most basic (stupid) questions. And then to focus on listening (not just hearing) what others have to say : trying to understand and learn, gathering different perspectives outside your frame of reference, and withholding judgment. It helps to build connections with yourself, with your own team, with the business, with peers outside your company, and with other stakeholders in a broader ecosystem. It helps to build trust and a psychologically safe environment where failure is an opportunity to learn.  And it strengthens your confidence to operate outside your comfort zone to identify risks and grasp opportunities together in a VUCA world.

Net zero and ESG commitments are on the rise. How can you, as a company lawyer, act to drive net zero commitments? Can you describe your role here?

Anca Angela Plovie, company lawyer, Nokia
Net zero and ESG commitments are key for companies who wish to credibly display their sustainability ambitions. As in-house counsels we have to generate internal buy-in, ensure coordination among various teams and specialisms, set up internal processes that rely on international standards, conduct meaningful due diligence, educate stakeholders on identification and mitigation of risks, support our suppliers in their own efforts to meet our expectations, and look beyond traditional contractual remediation mechanisms. Exchanging experience and best practices is equally important and this is the reason I look forward to exchange with the other panellists.

What’s the role of the legal department in the current macroeconomic environment and how should the company lawyer adapt when drafting contract negotiations?

Barbara Müller, company lawyer, BT Global Services Belgium
The world has never been more volatile (V), uncertain (U), complex (C) and ambiguous (A). This is impacting the way companies manage risk and opportunities as they are faced with inflation, supply chain disruptions, sanctions etc.  Today’s world requires the development of new leadership skills: creating a vision (V), understanding (U), clarity (C), and agility (A).  You need to be alert and ready for the unforeseen that is completely inconsistent with your original assumptions.  This is the response to the current turbulent reality.  Your role as in-house counsel is to support the development of this response and translate it in contract drafting and negotiation. In this framework an important role of the legal team will continue to be a “builder of bridges” between relevant internal and external stakeholders and departments in order to create as much clarity and understanding of the impact and develop of such macro-economic circumstances and steer towards compliant but pragmatic solutions.


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