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Thermo Fisher Scientific is a global life sciences group headquartered near Boston in the US. We’re the world leader in serving science with a $17 billion dollar turnover and 50,000 employees in 50 countries across the globe. We help our customers accelerate life sciences research, solve complex analytical challenges, improve patient diagnostics and increase laboratory productivity.
I joined Thermo Fisher in June 2011 and I am the senior regional corporate counsel for UK, Ireland and Middle East, with additional EMEA responsibility for Compliance. I have counterparts in Paris, Bremen and Uppsala looking after West Europe, DACH East and the Nordics, Baltics and Russia/CIS respectively and we act as general counsel for our respective regions reporting into the vice president legal for EMEA, Alasdair Moodie.
I have a team of four lawyers reporting to me in two separate jurisdictions. Thermo Fisher operates through six groups, each group having multiple divisions, so I have lots of different clients doing and selling lots of different things into lots of different industries globally from mass spectrometers to universities and research institutes to instruments which perform genetic testing to national police authorities.
Every day is different; I spend a lot of time travelling between our sites in Europe and I have offices in Manchester, Glasgow and Dubai. When I’m not away, I work from home in beautiful Lytham, on the North West coast of England. I don’t need an alarm, I have a six year old instead. My morning starts between 5.45am and 6am with the words “Mama, can I watch Tiny Pop?”, as a remote control is thrust into my right eye. If it’s a travel day, I’ll be up at an unholy hour and by 6am will be chatting with my “New Best Friends” at security in Terminal 3 at Manchester Airport negotiating about how much clothing I really need to remove to get through the scanner. Statement jewellery looks great but it’s a nightmare for the alarms. I’m at Terminal 3 a lot; I’ve asked whether it would be possible to rename it “Grant Terminal”… they’re getting back to me on that.
I answer the emails which come in overnight as soon as I wake up, whilst Smallfry is engrossed in My Little Pony; I try to fit in 30 minutes of “deck clearing” and diary processing before the day starts proper. After breakfast, the loss of various bits of school kit, the argument about my lack of hair plaiting skills and finally, school drop off, calls start around 8.45am. We have a UK team meeting every Monday to go through the issues from last week and those likely to occur this week.
As well as my core legal role, I am a statutory director for all UK and Irish subsidiaries, a member of the EMEA Pensions Governance Committee and a member of the EMEA Executive Leadership Team of Life Technologies, a global biotechnology group which was acquired in 2014 in a $14 billion acquisition. The post brings with it a daily diet of documents to be signed; I’ve spent most of my career trying to avoid signing anything and now I have “Scribe’s Elbow”.
I have regular, scheduled calls for projects, pan European restructurings, weekly updates with the UK HR director, my direct reports and my boss and then a monthly schedule of in person meetings, but every day brings in new work, a new issue, a new challenge which I love.
The variety of work keeps me on my toes and every day is a learning day. Recently, we opened our newest Centre of Excellence in Dubiotech in Dubai. It will be the hub from which our Middle East expansion will grow and is a fantastic example of Thermo Fisher at work. Whilst opening any new operation is a challenge, we managed to merge two branch offices, open a new branch, construct and fit out offices and demo labs, arrange visas and work permits and hold a VIP opening in just over six months. Working cross border and cross functionally in a conglomerate style group has its own challenges, but I couldn’t be prouder of our achievement.
In the unusual event I can squeeze it in, on a home working day, I go for a run along the beach at lunchtime. The scenery is spectacular and I really enjoy the thinking time to break down issues and have an uninterrupted 45 minutes to come up with viable solutions. My running shoes are always the first thing to be packed for any trip. Making time to run or at least have some reflection time is important to me and makes a difference to the job. I‘ve got to say that I sometimes think I have the best job in the world; I work with incredibly talented individuals both functionally and in the businesses, I get to travel regularly and I get to work on truly interesting projects which cover the whole range of legal disciplines and I get to work for a hugely diverse company which is genuinely focussed on producing products to make the world a cleaner, safer, healthier place to live.
On a home working day, I have a hard and fast rule not to work between 5pm and 8pm so I can spend time with Smallfry, doing homework, going to ballet, having dinner together. We’re a global company which operates on a 24 hour basis. The flexibility I am afforded in how I work is reflected in my working hours and I’ll often have evening calls with US colleagues. Working globally, working flexibly is about proper and effective integration of one’s life and work; it’s not always easy, but it’s always interesting.