No Match Found
In this episode of the Shift podcast, Pamela Snively, Chief Data & Trust Officer at TELUS, and Ojas Rege, SVP and GM of Privacy and Data Governance at OneTrust discuss the importance of embedding data trust and transparency throughout an organization. Together, they discuss how a human-led, tech-enabled approach to privacy innovation can build customer trust and give organizations a competitive edge.
Jon Finkelstein: Hi, welcome to Shift, a PwC Canada podcast series. Having a strategic vision for where you’re going next can be a challenge. Just saying transformation doesn’t make it happen, and making an investment doesn’t mean you’ll automatically capture its full value. We’re hearing first hand from industry leaders on how they’re making strategic transformations a priority. I’m your host, Jon Finkelstein, executive creative director of PwC Canada. Hi, welcome to another episode of Shift. We’ve got a really good one for you today. It’s about building trust in telecom with a human-led, tech-enabled approach. And I have two experts with me today. I have Pamela Snively, chief data and trust officer at TELUS. Welcome, Pamela.
Pamela Snively: Thanks very much, Jon.
Jon Finkelstein: And Ojas Rege, SVP and GM of privacy and data governance at OneTrust. Ojas, welcome.
Ojas Rege: Thank you. Good to be here.
Jon Finkelstein: So I’m really excited to talk about trust and privacy today because it is such a hot topic right now. Before we get started though, it would be really great for our listeners to know a little bit about you and how you got to where you are. Pamela, we’ll start with you. Tell us a little bit about your journey at TELUS.
Pamela Snively: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. I am the chief data and trust officer at TELUS, as you mentioned earlier. I started there about seven years ago, and I am charged with developing a trustworthy, sustainable data handling practice at TELUS. So our privacy program, our data ethics program, overall data governance, looking at ways that we can generate trust in the way that we handle and innovate with data.
Jon Finkelstein: You know, privacy and trust are so foundationally important right now to reputation, to revenue, to success, to what customers are expecting transparency. It’s a very big responsibility. And one that TELUS is doing amazing things. Ojas, tell me a little bit about you and your career and your path over at OneTrust.
Ojas Rege: I’ve been in the technology world for a little bit over 30 years now. The reason is because technology helps change lives in the way people work. It’s always been interesting to me. At OneTrust, our focus is building software solutions that help accomplish tasks, like and responsibilities like Pam just describe, you know, how do I enable my teams internally to take on all these new trust and privacy initiatives. So that’s what we do. We’re a software player. My journey with privacy started right two years after the iPhone launched. I was in prior life working in mobile security, and everyone might remember there was a sudden new trend called BYOD, bring your own device. People were bringing their own iPhones to work, and suddenly privacy became front and center because people were really concerned about using their personal devices for work and what do employers see, what do they not see. It brought privacy to the public eye well before the GDPR and other regulations happened. So I think that’s been a phenomenal journey in the last 15 years to see the increasing importance in privacy. And obviously as a software company, that’s what we focus on.
Jon Finkelstein: You know, when we talk about privacy and we talk about trust, and they’re kind of like two sides of the same coin in a way, but there’s a really big difference between privacy and trust, especially as we think about it in terms of like organizational and how it relates to customers. Ojas, how would you describe the difference or how would you define privacy versus trust?
Ojas Rege: Trust is a perception that an individual has about another individual or organization based on certain actions that other person or organization has taken. Privacy is one of those classes, I believe, of actions of being able to responsibly manage the data that belongs to someone who’s not you, right, the data of an individual. So I don’t believe that you can establish trust as an organization without respecting privacy. But privacy is one component of what you need to get in place to be able to establish trust with whoever your constituent is.
Jon Finkelstein: I love it. I mean, it’s an interesting differentiation. And it leads me to a question for you, Pam. You’ve been in the privacy and trust business for quite, quite some time. I have to imagine that you’ve you’ve really seen trust evolve, whether it’s cultural, economic, whether it’s the media. I’d love to get your perspective a little bit on some of the changes you’ve seen in the privacy and data trust world.
Pamela Snively: I think the last few years have been marked by really remarkable change, significant change in that space. There’s been a proliferation of privacy regulation and increasingly active engagement from privacy regulators in Canada and in fact, internationally. So that’s been one piece of the backdrop. And then we have the fact that the pandemic accelerated digital innovation, and that pace has not subsided. But we’re seeing innovation across the board, as you say, in banking and currency, in agriculture, in telecom, certainly in healthcare, particularly in education. There isn’t an area that hasn’t been impacted by absolutely rapid innovation in the data space specifically. But what we’ve seen as we’ve moved so many aspects of our lives online is we’ve also seen a plummeting of trust in the digital ecosystem. We’re sort of forced online these days, but at the same time, we don’t really trust what’s going on online. We’re not sure if we can trust organizations with our data. We’re not sure if we can trust the government with our data. We don’t know what is happening, and the technology is quite complex. So I think what we’re seeing right now is a real crisis of trust. And I think we might be approaching an inflection point where if we don’t address that trust deficit, if we don’t act to improve consumer trust in the digital ecosystem, then we jeopardize a lot of the innovation that we’ve realized to date. And even more importantly, we jeopardize a future innovation and we put future innovation at risk. So the discussion has gotten very big. But I think even more importantly, it’s almost existential in terms of our ability to continue to innovate if we don’t address this now together.
Jon Finkelstein: So Ojas, tell me, you know, given all of the change that’s going on and the extra importance that both organizations and consumers are citizens are seeing, what do you think will happen to organizations either when they get it wrong or how can organizations really make their programs successful?
Ojas Rege: So there’s always going to be an economic driver for most organizations, right. There’s clearly a altruistic bent to some, but there’s an economic driver for all. So the moment that trust within a market starts driving business, where the trust you have with your consumers, let’s say, is part of their decision making process, the importance of trust ratchets up in that organization. In terms of what to do, sometimes people don’t know where to start. Arguably, no company knows exactly where to start because it’s complicated. It touches every single interaction that you have, both internally and externally. So what I always find is that there’s basic principles that you have to really start with, right? So there is no trust without transparency. So one very important place for every organization to start is what is the level of transparency I have with my customers? Where are the gaps? Where is the trust gap that I have, and how do I actually become more transparent and make it easy for a customer to understand what I do? Because transparency is two things. It’s the willingness to share what you do, but also second, it’s the ability to put that in a simple, easy to understand language.
Jon Finkelstein: Awesome.
Pamela Snively: I agree with everything that Ojas said, and I have really seen that play out at TELUS when we talk about the importance of appealing to the business and talking about trust to the business. And I think for me that’s been a very valuable tool in driving a, you know, a privacy and a sustainable data ethics program through the organization. Because if we are talking about privacy as a compliance function, the business isn’t going to care as much about it. But when I’m talking to them about trust and how to engage with their customers, they are listening, you know, attentively and they’re going to do even more than I ask them to do, because that’s exactly the outcome they want as well. So that’s been transformational for me in terms of the discussions that I have with my business peers and colleagues within the organization. And it’s put us all on the same page in terms of what we’re trying to achieve as opposed to it being like a compliance function or oversight function or in many organizations, it’s still seen as a policing function, which I think is really missing an opportunity when that’s how you are approaching it.
Jon Finkelstein: At PwC, we talk a lot about human-led, tech-powered.A big part of how we bring our strategy to life is by combining the right digital tools with our people’s passion and insight so that we can help organizations accelerate a tech-enabled future. We call this approach “human-led, tech powered. Pam, could you tell us a bit about what human-led, tech powered means to you at TELUS?
Pamela Snively: At TELUS, when I talk about being human-centric versus data-centric or anything else, it really comes down to putting the customer first and thinking about it from the from the perspective of the customer. And so even though we want to be human centric, we also have to be really technically savvy. And I used to talk about the fact that privacy isn’t rocket science, that it’s, you know, this is pretty basic stuff. It’s simple legislation about respecting customers wishes and expectations with their data. But as technology has gotten more complex and humans expectations have gotten more complex, I no longer think it’s true to say it’s not really rocket science. It’s getting awfully close to rocket science. And we need more technology solutions to help us support this technical innovation. I now can’t do this on a, you know, on an Excel spreadsheet and a few PowerPoints. I need really solid tools to help me interpret what is happening with our technology, to help me track what is happening with complex consents, nuanced consents, and to look at all the different types of risks that are associated with any given initiative with data. We are doing more and more with data. If every aspect of our company is data driven, that means we are constantly assessing the implications and impacts of data. And that means we need to be really good at it, really agile, and we need to be able to support that agile innovation across the organization. And we need excellent tools in order to be able to do that. It isn’t rocket science, but it’s, as I say, a lot closer than I used to think, and it requires commensurate technology.
Jon Finkelstein: Speaking of rocket science and commensurate technology, Ojas, I’m really interested in how you might describe and what human-led, tech-powered means to you. And then I’d love to hear about what’s going on at OneTrust and how you’re working with TELUS and how the tech is powering trust here.
Ojas Rege: It will be human-led part of that is tailor-made for privacy because similar to what we’ve been talking about, it is all about the human. And where the tech comes in is how do you scale? Right. I mean, organizations, as Pam has mentioned, are really complicated. There’s so many processes, there’s so many things, so many individuals they interact with. And if you had one person you were interacting with, you know, you could probably manage things pretty easily. But when you have thousands or millions of customers, when you have thousands or tens of thousands of employees where technology comes in place to help you scale your processes within the organization so that you can continue to do the right thing and you can continue to do it consistently across the different groups. Because otherwise sometimes one group’s doing one thing and other ones doing another thing. And that inconsistency can result in some real gaps in in privacy. One of the areas we’re seeing a lot of focus amongst our customers these days is on the consent side. Right. How do I collect consent effectively? How do I manage that? How do I make sure that it’s aligned with the data that I’ve collected? And then how do I make sure that all my processes are appropriately mapped in the organization so I know what’s happening to that data? Right. Because like the prior discussion, that data is really reflective of an individual, and I need to make sure there is no gaps in the process, no blind spots, so that suddenly something starts happening that I’m not aware of. So that to me is the the role of technology. It’s a human-led process that’s about because it’s the people within TELUS that are leading the process and they care about the humans, which are their customers. The technology sits on the back end to allow them to scale and be effective with the strategies they have in place.
Jon Finkelstein: Interesting. I think that’s worth repeating, actually. Sort of the takeaway here for listeners is it’s a holistic approach to trust. This is not one siloed thing. It’s not just about compliance, it’s not just about privacy. But as you think of your total trust agenda, quote unquote, I think it’s important and what we’re hearing is that you have to think about it across the enterprise. Right. You’ve only got one brand, one chance really with the world to prove that you are what you say you are, so make it count.
Pamela Snively: I love the way you put that, Jon. And I and I think another aspect of this is recognizing that this has to not just go across the organization, but it has to penetrate every level of the organization. Can’t just be that privacy comes out of, you know, your privacy office. You know, you’ve got an environmental team that focuses on, you know, your sustainability brand. It has to be that this penetrates the culture of the organization and every decision that gets made, which is why we are really focused on my team, on, you know, data literacy across the entire organization. We decided a few years ago we need to upskill the whole organization and how to think critically about data and how to contemplate the ethical decisions that they’re going to have to face every single day in the work that they do around data. So that extra piece of of training, not just your annual privacy compliance training, but how do we really prepare people for this next generation of data decision making? I also think it’s really important to look at when Ojas talked about the scaling and using tools to scale these programs, how we can decentralize those. Again, we cannot have every data decision going through my office. That would be crazy, because every decision we make is data driven now. So what we’re looking at now is how do we how decentralize this and have tools that can be used across the organization? So one of the things that we do like about the OneTrust solutions and, you know, one of the drivers for us to put it in place across TELUS was that it is accessible by all of our team members, that we can have a decentralized and train our team members to be able to use that tool and make decisions based on some of the assessments that are within the tool. And that combined with the data literacy with our data ethics campaigns and training, makes for a really powerful combination and allows us to make sure that we’ve actually penetrated the organization and impacted the way decisions are made, not just the way we talk about how decisions are made.
Ojas Rege: And one of the attributes that we see of successful programs like Pam described is that they don’t view this as control. They view this as collaboration. Right. Every individual in the organization needs to do the right thing. And you can’t do that unless you’ve got a collaborative system in place to be able to support them.
Jon Finkelstein: I love that. Collaboration, not control. That kind of says it all there too. Especially when you think about it beyond the idea of just it being sort of the data set, right. So I’m wondering, Ojas for you, what do you think the big barrier here is for organizations of really thinking about their trust holistically and to kind of making sure that they see it more as a business driver than a compliance check box?
Ojas Rege: There’s a strategic and mindset barrier in some organizations, right, just in terms of how they think about their business. But I think there’s also two very practical barriers. And I have a lot of empathy for organizations on this because it ain’t easy, right one of the practical barriers is complexity. The regulatory complexity, the organizational complexity, the data systems complexity, right. How do I navigate that? So even if I have the best intention, how do I navigate that? How do I get the budget to do the right things and so forth? So I got to have a starting point, right? Just like getting to the crawl stage can be challenging. And then the second very practical barrier is data sprawl. I’ve been collecting data for 30 years, 40 years. I don’t know where that data is necessarily, right. Many organizations are in that position. And that’s part of the complexity that I already mentioned. But it’s also a really fundamental issue in and of itself. And one of the catalysts now to get that right is a lot of organizations are going through data migrations, thinking about cloud, thinking about rethinking their data systems, so that can be a good catalyst. But if we can help organizations, we mean the industry, can help organizations navigate the complexity and the data sprawl, then they can start getting closer to meeting the overall trust strategy or trust goals that they’ve set in place.
Jon Finkelstein: Yeah, that’s a whole other thing, isn’t it? We were talking about sort of creating a holistic or standardized ecosystem that everyone can kind of get in behind. PwC’s been working with TELUS on some pretty interesting initiatives around creating trust, specifically around electronic medical records.
Pamela Snively: That’s a really good example of what I was talking about earlier where, you know, we do want to share that information and make sure that we are building an ecosystem that people can trust. And what we found, you know, when there was such a move at a fairly quick pace to virtual care during the pandemic, there were a lot of people that didn’t know how to make decisions about whether they should trust a particular system. There were no standards out there. What are the indicators of a good privacy, respectful virtual care system? What security standards should be in place? This was so new and we were moving so quickly that people were kind of left adrift, not knowing what to how to measure it and what to measure it against. So we worked with PwC to develop standards for virtual care, privacy and security standards. We talked to a lot of the regulators and key stakeholders in the field, and developed a whole set of privacy and security standards so that organizations that are building these programs can use those to measure themselves against. And then individuals who are using these programs can use them to assess the programs that they’re going to use. Similarly, we’ve taken the same approach with electronic medical records recently. So we’ve been working on a standard for privacy and security for electronic medical records. We know this is such a fundamental part of of taking our health care program into the next century or even into this century, ensuring that we can have that interoperability of our medical care, that we can move from one place to another and be able to access information. But we absolutely know that this has to be done in a way that is privacy, respectful and secure. And we need the confidence and trust of patients and consumers to be able to build this in a meaningful way. That if people don’t trust these solutions, they won’t use these solutions. The last thing we want is people to not go to their physicians and caregivers because they don’t trust the technology. So this is critically important to the health of all of our citizens, as well as to our entire health care system. So I’ve been really happy to work with with PwC on that standard. And again, in this for this one, working with some regulators, with some of the key stakeholders in the industry and experts in the industry to make sure we’re getting this right.
Jon Finkelstein: So that’s the end of another edition of Shift, another episode. That’s the end of another episode of Shift. Pam, Ojas, thank you so much for being here. It’s really opened the aperture, I think on the importance of trust privacy, of course, but the whole trust agenda, thinking about a holistically and looking at as a way to drive the business. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to have you.
Pamela Snively: Thank you, Jon. Really enjoy the discussion. And thanks, Ojas.
Ojas Rege: Thanks so much, Jon. I really enjoyed this. And Pam, just a great discussion. Very glad I was able to join you on this really awesome podcast.
Jon Finkelstein: Thanks for listening to this episode of Shift, a PwC Canada Podcast series. If you’ve enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, you can subscribe to Shift on Spotify, Apple or Google podcasting platforms. You can find more details at PwC.com/ca/shift. Just so you know, this podcast has been prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Ontario Limited Liability Partnership for general guidance on matters of interest only and does not constitute professional advice. Until next time.
In this episode of the Shift podcast, Michaël Hassan, Managing Director and Divisional General Counsel, Public Sector Pension Investment Board discusses why having a strategic approach to collecting, analyzing and using data is a key part of transforming the legal function and leads to increased efficiencies and value for the business.
Jon Finkelstein: Hi, welcome to Shift a PwC Canada podcast series. Having a strategic vision for where you're going next can be a challenge. Just saying transformation doesn't make it happen. And making an investment doesn't mean you'll automatically capture its full value. We're hearing firsthand from industry leaders on how they're making strategic transformations a priority. I'm your host, Jon Finkelstein, executive creative director of PwC Canada. We're back and we have an amazing episode for you on a different topic that you might be thinking about in terms of transformations. I have Michaël Hassan, managing director and divisional general counsel of PSP Investments. Welcome.
Michaël Hassan: Thank you, Jon. Really happy to be here with you.
Jon Finkelstein: So we're going to open up the hood on how legal function can provide more value to organizations, not in the way that you expect. So Michaël, welcome. And I'd love to hear a little bit about your journey and what it is you're up to at PSP Investments.
Michaël Hassan: Sure. Maybe just a little bit of a background. I've been at PSP, so Public Sector Pension Investment Board is a Canadian pension fund with over $240 billion of assets under management. And we basically invest all around the world in the private side and the public side. So the legal department supports those investment activities and the commercial activities that we have. So I've been here for 16 years and prior to that worked in places where there was no tech and there was no legal operations. So you just had to figure it out. So that kind of helps the journey. What have we been doing at PSP? We have been in a journey of data and mining data at PSP, finding unstructured data, trying to structure it into something that we can build out and create insights that we were not able to see previously.
Jon Finkelstein: Okay. But hold on a second, when we think about legal functions and data and insights, this isn't something that I normally would associate with a legal function. And what do people actually think legal functions do?
Michaël Hassan: Good question. Well, if you ask my 12 year old daughter, she'll say that, Dad, you have a really boring job. You spend a lot of time on the phone and a lot of time drafting contracts, which is true. And that is the typical in-house function of a lawyer protecting the company as best we can, making sure that our internal clients don't do things that they shouldn't do. I think there's been a shift over the past few years, and legal departments or traditional legal departments need to do better, need to do more. You can't just have a report to the board that says, well, here's a few pieces of litigation, but we have nothing else to tell you. And then the board or your management team says, well, why are you so many? What are you guys doing here? And well, we're just protecting the fort. We're the Guardians of the Galaxy, say, well, you need to expand and explain what that galaxy looks like. And that's what we've been trying to do, moving away from that traditional legal department perspective and bringing technology and data into how we do things, how we build insight, how we share that insight with internal clients, and how we make things go a little smoother than they typically do under, you know, a traditional legal department.
Jon Finkelstein: What kind of reaction did you get? I'm just curious. When you started to build up this function, say, hey, we need to think about data, we need to think about technology, we need to think about our operations and our operating model, all that kind of stuff. Were they like, you stay in your lane lawyers and let us deal with the stuff or they're like, hey, this sounds like a great life preserver or could absolutely add something to the business. Let's go.
Michaël Hassan: That's a great way of presenting it. I think there's been an evolution in the leadership of the legal department over the years. I have been pushing this legal department for many years to adopt technology. I'm always fearful of like the oncoming recession. So, it's always coming right. And that's kind of how you think. But when you think that way, you kind of think, well, how can we be more efficient or how can we make sure that people are not twiddling their thumbs and are busy all the time? Because you want people to be busy, to be engaged. And that was kind of part of the feeling. Well we will incorporate technology and some improved processes will make the job of the internal lawyer more interesting. Like nobody wants to do 50 NDAs every day. It's finding ways to improve the quality of the work that we do and create more engagement. When you incorporated data into the life of a lawyer or legal operations, you will level set the playing field. So I've been at PSP for 16 years. By having deep data and insights that you can draw from databases, from, you know, Power BIs, from those types of business intelligence tools, you can level set the playing field between a lawyer that's been here for sixteen years, has done thousands of transactions and a lawyer that just started two weeks before.
Jon Finkelstein: What do you mean by leveling the playing field?
Michaël Hassan: What internal clients really seek out from our legal department? So we're a transactional shop. We do mergers and acquisitions, we do investments, and they're always looking for, well, what do we usually do or what's market? So when you're just starting out right and you're onboarding a new lawyer, it's allowing that individual who just started out to have that same insight or tap into that insight quickly and in intelligent manner. And that's very powerful for our internal clients. Because when they ask what is market or what is market at PSP, that's what they expect. What I can provide with a 16 year tenure, basically is anecdotal evidence. We usually do that. But when you can show it to somebody, when you can show that Power BI, say well, in 75 percent of cases we get this right or we get this obligation, it's a lot more compelling and a powerful story for internal clients. And they kind of, oh, okay. Well, they're not just kind of like fudging it. They’re really basing their decisions on actual insights that we've gathered over the years.
Jon Finkelstein: It had this idea that data could be an incredibly powerful advantage, competitive advantage even. And you started to do some research to figure out, because you're obviously a seeker, you're someone who wants to make change, all that kind of good stuff. You started looking, you started Google and stuff online. I want to hear a little bit about that story.
Michaël Hassan: I'll explain what we tried to do. So few years ago, I think it goes even back like five years ago. I started kind of dabbling in this, saying, how could we do things better? How can we tell a better story to our management teams, to our board as to what we are working on, how busy we are, help with the business case to hire more resources if we need them, or switch priorities in terms of who does what and how. And it just started to get me thinking of, okay, well, everybody talks about KPIs. It's amazing. KPIs are easy when it's numbers, right? But for legal departments, KPIs, what do they mean? Okay, well, I reviewed 50,000 contracts. That's great. But it doesn't tell the story as to what value we're bringing. So I started to kind of do a deeper dive as to what that is, but then it just kind of unlocked. Well, hold on. It's not just about the quantitative things as well. Can I measure the qualitative of all of this? Is there a way to find other KPIs that tell a better story as to who we are? Then tell another story or provide further and build insights. So that's kind of how it started. So I tried to do this on my own learning power BI by myself, having my team learn power BI. And so while I really suck at this, so I'm going to ask our internal team to do this. This is what I want to do. And I discovered that they also really sucked at it, because they didn't understand my business. So I started googling, believe it or not, legal dashboard KPIs. And I found this video from PwC Australia. I cold call PwC Australia, and I actually freeze frame sum of things to show my IT team, saying I want this. They said, we don't know how to do this and we don't have time to do it. Can you please speak to somebody? So we spoke to the legal transformation team in Australia and which contacted us with the Canadian team and that's how we started our relationship with PwC, who were very intrigued by how much effort we had put into to this. So they really helped us bring our game to the next level in terms of what insights, and I think I really credit to PwC on telling the story. I think that's what they taught me. Say, okay, you got to be able to tell the story. Raw data doesn't tell you anything. So what do you want to tell your management team? What do you want to tell your internal team? How do you want the legal department to be considered and remembered? And that's how we came up with this beautiful legal KPI dashboard.
Jon Finkelstein: I want to ask you, when you have good data, and you're actually able to track it and correlate with like how the business is working. It can both be enlightening and terrifying. So I'm wondering were people feeling more on the enlightened side, like being able to use the data to make, you know, proper strategic decisions.
Michaël Hassan I could tell you that there was a lot of reluctance to adopt this, because sometimes you don't want to look at the mirror. Right. You kind of know, but you don't want to really know what's going on. Data doesn't really lie. For me, that's the opportunity. It's like saying, one, we're self-aware, we know what's going on. We are going to be lean and mean. We are going to manage things because we are measuring things.
Jon Finkelstein: I want to ask you also about how that benefits the people working within the legal function at PSP. Now we're talking about data where people are spending time, where value is being created. What kind of impact that have on your people, really? How does it enhance their employee experience or their engagement?
Michaël Hassan: Two messages here. One is initially, employers don't like to enter data. The exercise was trying to make the data capture exercise as simple and as seamless as possible because lawyers don't like to do clerical things. When they started to see how that translates and what it means for them, I think there was an element of pride and say we are able as a legal department to communicate in ways that we weren't able to communicate previously, when they discovered the power of telling a story in a different way.
Jon Finkelstein: So, Michaël, I'm wondering within PSP, why should the rest of the organization really pay attention to or care about what you're doing with data and transforming the legal function? What impact is that going to have on the broader organization, especially as we think about things like inflation and what's happening in the economy and all these kinds of things as CEOs and C-suites are looking for answers.
Michaël Hassan: So the benefits for the broader organization is having one, an efficient legal department. I think that's a given. But then they have the ability to tap into insights that they wouldn't necessarily be able to tap into. Particular example is if I'm working on a real estate transaction with a real estate group, they don't know what the private equity group does or how the credit investment group does its investments. The next time they do a transaction in a jurisdiction in or space that they don't know very well, suddenly it gives them that insights, it speeds things up, they'll know who we worked with, which law firms, which accounting firm, which advisors. It's really powerful stuff and it speeds up the discovery process instead of just kind of relying on your own experience and you're able to tap into a broader, much broader viewpoint than you currently have. So that's kind of a very powerful aspect. And legal departments are very strategically placed in organizations to have a perspective and touch upon many different things that are organizational.
Jon Finkelstein: Historically, organizations have put the legal department probably a little bit of a box. You stick to your thing over there and we'll stick to our thing over here. You, Michaël, don't think about it that way. You think about how you can transform a legal function to provide incredible value to the organization. So tell me, how do you make that switch between stick to, you know, your thing and really opening it up to provide value for the organization?
Michaël Hassan: I think, Jon, that every lawyer internally or externally wants to have an impact. And I think that's kind of the key for me. And we see a lot of things. And sometimes, you know, we're just saying, hey, stay in your lane, stay quiet, be passive, we'll tell you when we need legal to do something. Right. And I don't think our legal department sees it that way. We are active participants in the transactions, in the commercial reality of PSP, and we are loud. And that's how you get the respect from your stakeholders.
Jon Finkelstein: You said something though, Michaël, that I love, and that is be loud. Right. You have a perspective. You have data to back it up. You're looking at the data and how it can contribute to the business from a completely different perspective. But I have a question for you. What advice do you have for our listeners if they're thinking about doing this? How do you even start?
Michaël Hassan: How do you start? So it's surprising when you ask questions and you ask people around you in different functions, not legal functions. And you ask, well, how do you do things or what data do you collect? And you'd be surprised that people enter data into Excel spreadsheets. There is an Excel spreadsheet out there that's structured data that you might be able to use. So kind of be curious, look around, ask a lot of questions. What it's going to help you do is want to understand the business better, but also give you an ability to tap into data that you wouldn't necessarily have. You're not steward of that data, but that's okay. You don't need to control all of the data that's there. But how could you use that and just find these insights and correlations that you wouldn't think about? So I think the first is a discovery exercise, getting to know the business better, asking a lot of questions, being friendly, allowing people to share, and then share your dream and your vision with them. Say, hey, this is how I'm going to be able to help you. If you help me, this is what the deliverable will look like and I will give you full visibility on it. So you're going to know having access to those maturities, to those interest rates, to those refinancings, to the JV or shareholder terms and conditions. It's pretty powerful stuff. And people are interested because they don't even have to maintain it. Right. It's amazing. It's like a gift, the gift that keeps on giving.
Jon Finkelstein: And I was actually thinking to myself that based on how the economy is, how organizations are transforming, doing what you're doing, leading the way like you're doing isn't actually a nice to have at all. This is a strategic imperative. It's a competitive advantage.
Michaël Hassan: I agree that it's a competitive advantage. I think we're going into a cycle. I think we've been talking about going into a recessive cycle for many years, but it's, I think finally, unfortunately happening and you got to be prepared for this. And when you know what the issues are and you have credibility because you have data and you're not just talking anecdotally, it's very helpful. People will be asking legal departments, well, how are you going to trim down spending? How are you going to look at legal fees and how are you going to control legal fees? And then if you don't know how to answer those questions, well, maybe you're not in the right spot. So you got to have control over it. So then you can have an action plan to be able to take measures and actions in order to reduce your legal spend or make it smarter or insource, outsource, or just kind of decide what is the right formula, what levers can you pull in order to make your legal department and the legal function more efficient, less of a cost center, but also providing value to the deal teams and to the organization generally.
Jon Finkelstein: Lastly, I want to thank you for spending the time with us to tell us about the transformation that you're undertaking and how powerful it can be and really what to be thinking about as far as other legal functions are concerned when it comes to looking at how they can transform, really provide more value to the organization.
Michaël Hassan: Well, what a pleasure this was for me to talk about what I find a lot of fun. I hope that this is helpful for other legal departments in other organizations to think a little bit differently.
Jon Finkelstein: And thank you to our listeners also. We really appreciate you taking the time to listen to Shift. Until the next time, be well and see you then. Thanks for listening to this episode of Shift, a PwC Canada Podcast series. If you enjoy this episode and want to hear more, you can subscribe to Shift on Spotify, Apple or Google podcasting platforms. You can find more details at pwc.com/ca/shift. Just so you know, this podcast has been prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Ontario Limited Liability Partnership for general guidance on matters of interest only and does not constitute professional advice. Until next time.
Successful business transformation is taking on the demands of today while preparing for the challenges of tomorrow. In each episode of Shift, we amplify the voice of leading industry experts, to share their unique perspectives on what it takes to transform.
Join us to learn how these leaders are approaching and executing on their transformation journeys while ensuring they perform as they transform. Listen as they describe what they're doing to create sustained outcomes for their employees, customers and communities.
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