Lynette Williams is global head of client and sector development for Clifford Chance’s corporate practice. Formerly head of business development at Herbert Smith, she has been with the firm for almost 18 months and has dual responsibility for business development in the global corporate practice and sector development across nine of the firm’s 12 industry sectors.
What are the key elements of your role?
The main focus of the role is to broaden Clifford Chance’s client base across the nine non-financial institutions sectors. The key elements are to support partners and associates in developing client relationships, targeting and winning new work, and building the reputation of the firm.
What are the most significant external issues that have an impact on your job?
Cost pressures on clients means we have to be attuned to what each one values and ensure that everyone on a client team understands and delivers on this. The current environment provides opportunities for some clients and risks for others. We need to be outward-looking and proactive in taking ideas to them.
At a functional level, finding high-quality business development people to add to our global team continues to be a real challenge across many of the regions in which we operate.
What’s in your in-tray?
Our global research study on cross-border M&A involving many of the world’s leading organisations; a review of the action plans for our main sector clients; and plans for greater associate engagement in business sectors.
What was the most pressing item you faced relating to the operational side last year?
Expanding the participation of our associates in the 12 industry sectors.
What have been the key ways in which you have improved the efficiency of the firm?
Supporting a project focusing on improving deal capture for global league tables. We have refined the process, gained commitment from each office, improved communication and feedback, and acknowledged the team’s efforts. The results have been positive.
How many people in your core team and who are they?
I have a team of seven in London who focus on the corporate practice. I have a wider team across the international offices who lead on nine of the sectors or corporate regionally.
As the role is global, I spend a lot of time working with and talking to people in other offices. This is essential to understand other markets, to co-ordinate our efforts and to develop a sense of teamwork.
What problem would you like technology to solve?
I’d like to combine client segmentation with business intelligence to identify which of our clients and targets are planning to invest or divest in which markets, and what issues are causing them concern. [Williams would also like to compress time, Star Trek-style. See box]
Who do you report to?
Global corporate practice leader Matthew Layton and global director Karim Klaus Emara.
What’s the management structure of the firm?
Management of the firm is the responsibility of our management committee, comprising the heads of the firm’s global practice areas and major regions as well as our chief operating and financial officers. The committee is chaired by managing partner David Childs. We also have a partnership council that provides an oversight role, chaired by senior partner Malcolm Sweeting.
What’s the most important lesson your role has taught you?
I’m in a people business and I can only influence change if people trust me. Also, if you can focus people to achieve a goal, they can really make a difference.
Equity partners: 400
Global turnover: £1.3bn
UK turnover: £443m
Global net profit: £431m
Profit per equity partner: £1.1m
Technology is moving fast, but it’s not a new IT system, iPhone or computer tablet that Williams is after.
“I’d like technology to help reduce travelling time. Do you remember the Star Trek transporter room?” she asks, clearly thinking big. “I’d like to be beamed between office locations so I can participate more with our local offices on a day-to-day basis.”
If any of you tech companies are reading this, the race is on.
Remote working: Citrix