Ari Bouras and Sandra Romeo work at the cutting edge
Head of Legal & Property and Senior Legal Counsel
Interactive Pty Ltd
Head of Legal & Property and Senior Legal Counsel
Interactive Pty Ltd
We know you both have demanding jobs, before we ask you more about them what do you do in your spare time?
[Sandra:] ‘Spare time’ is a funny phrase when you’re a working mum with two kids! I try to get to the gym 4-5 mornings a week for a weights training session which helps to clear my mind and get me ready for the day ahead. On the weekend you’ll find me taxiing my children between dancing and soccer lessons. Our family loves to travel as much as we can: whether that be our annual overseas vacation, two annual camping trips or time spent at the communal family beach house on the Mornington Peninsula.
[Ari:] Yes, I seem to remember something called spare time before we had our baby. I played footy for over 20 years, but recently hung up my boots when I decided that trying to run with twenty-somethings in the midfield was no longer my idea of a great time. I’m really sociable, love a trip to the movies or occasionally the theatre with my wife, a bbq with my family or mates, and getting down to watch the Hawks.
Thanks for having us at your offices today. This must be the only workplace we’ve seen with an internal slide! What's it like working here?
[Ari:] It is a great place to work. The state-of-the-art facility was opened in mid-2015, and featured in news.com.au’s Best Workplaces in Australia. There was a lot of thought put into creating spaces that facilitate creativity and foster collaboration. The internal slide, the games rooms with Xbox competitions and table tennis tables all get people to interact in different ways, and ultimately help us attract and keep the best talent and to drive the highest levels of customer service.
[Sandra:] I agree. The company has a program called the ‘Everest Awards’ where we can all nominate peers who achieve excellence and who embody our cultural values. The company provides a range of awards from $1,000 gift cards to luxury overseas holidays to the winners of these awards. Offering complimentary coffee in the café is a great way to bring people together, and Kaylan our barista has only been here for a relatively short time but has won an Everest Award for his contributions!
When you talk about collaboration, what do you mean and why is it important?
[Sandra:] Collaboration obviously involves people working together to achieve common goals. As a concept, it’s rooted in the idea that no one person has all the answers, and that people with different skills, experiences and perspectives can contribute meaningfully to the end solution.
For INTERACTIVE, collaboration takes place in many different contexts. First, it happens internally, as our own staff work together on a day to day basis working on customer solutions and new product offerings. It also happens externally in a couple of different ways. We need to work collaboratively with our customers to ensure that we’re delivering maximum value. We also have close relationships with an extensive technology partner network that includes providers such as IBM, Cisco and Citrix and non-tech providers like EPIPHANY LAW. By collaborating with external partners we learn from them which in turn enables us to enhance our own service offerings.
Some of our readers might not understand why you would engage lawyers to work with you when you’re lawyers yourselves. Would you mind explaining this to them?
[Ari:] As a unit, our ultimate responsibility is to manage INTERACTIVE’s legal risk within the framework of the organisation’s strategic goals. Our legal team is made up of commercial lawyers who handle a wide range of legal work for the business units within INTERACTIVE. For example, we handle issues relating to IT and other service-related contracts, corporate law and employment law.
If something requiring more specialised knowledge occurs - such as tax, litigation, intellectual property, complex construction issues - we engage experts like EPIPHANY LAW to assist us.
We aim to get the right blend of in-house counsel and outside legal expertise at INTERACTIVE. An organisation needs people on the ground that are fully integrated within the business who can proactively identify areas where they can add value, both legally and commercially. However, there will be times when we need specialised resources. That’s when we tend to look to external legal teams. This allows us to deal with core business issues and assists us to gain knowledge of specialist areas.
What do you look for in your external lawyers?
[Ari:] The choice of our external lawyers is hugely important to us from both an organisational and professional and personal perspective. If we choose a firm that doesn’t deliver results or value on a mission-critical issue, then it can be very problematic for the organisation. It would also impact on our own workload and on our relationships with our internal stakeholders.
When choosing our external lawyers, first and foremost we need to be absolutely confident about their technical abilities: they need to know their stuff. Secondly, our external lawyers need to be commercial, in the sense that they deliver creative solutions that fit our overall objectives. Thirdly, the work provided by our external lawyers needs to represent good value. We have a legal budget to administer, and we need both results and predictability in terms of cost.
What have you found to be the most surprising part about working with us?
[Ari:] EPIPHANY LAW charges us almost exclusively on the basis of fixed fee quotations and they honour those quotations without fail. The obvious temptation for a firm that charges fixed fees is to do the absolute minimum so that they can maximise their margins, but EPIPHANY LAW doesn’t work in that way. It’s clear that the lawyers are thorough and committed to delivering work of the highest quality and they never compromise what they do just so they can make more of a profit in the short-term. I suppose it shows that (like us) they value long-term working relationships.
Would you recommend us to a close colleague, and why?
[Sandra:] Definitely! Interactive has an extremely complex business which involves a wide range of highly technical product offerings. EPIPHANY LAW has gone to great effort to understand our business over the years.
When advising us, they’re not afraid to give us both legal and non-legal advice to assist with our decision making. Although we might be seeing particular issues once or twice, they’ve usually helped lots of clients through similar issues, and are able to talk us through the commercial implications of the options as well as the legal side of things.
On a final note, they’ve got a good sense of humour, are down to earth and great to deal with.