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Paul, can you give us a brief overview of your own career to date?
I qualified in New Zealand in 1996 and then spent two years at SJ Berwin in London. I then worked at Baker & McKenzie’s Sydney office from 1999-2003 (having qualified in NSW), and at Minter Ellison in London from 2004-2009 (having qualified in England & Wales). I have been in-house since then at Airwave.
In one line, can you explain what Airwave does?
Airwave delivers Great Britain’s Emergency Service Network, a digital voice and data radio network that covers 99% of Britain’s landmass with built in resilience which means it works when other networks fail – whenever you see a police car, fire truck or an ambulance with its siren going, it will be communicating using our radio network.
What is Airwave’s primary business objective in Great Britain over the next five years?
Airwave will continue to provide mission-critical and non-mission critical services to the emergency services, as well as to the wider public service community. We will continue delivering new capabilities that enable our customers to benefit from developments in technology.
As general counsel, what part does your role play in that process?
As GC I report to the CFO and CEO and am responsible for managing legal risk across the business, both in Great Britain and internationally. At Executive Committee (excomm) and board meetings I am responsible for risk generally – as the role has a breadth of vision across the entire business I have to ensure that risk is proactively managed and mitigated and strategic discussions and decisions are undertaken within this framework. As a member of the Operating Committee, I have broader leadership responsibility to ensure the business maintains a critical service to the emergency services. As leader of the Legal team I am responsible for shaping a team of professionals to ensure business objectives are achieved and helping career development.
The organisation was heavily involved in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. What did Airwave deliver and how was it being a part of such a monumental event?
Airwave was an official supplier to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), which was the first ever official Private Mobile Radio Services Provider for an Olympic and Paralympic Games – it provided voice communications for over 18,000 staff and volunteers. Airwave also continued to maintain the primary Airwave network, as used by the emergency services, during one of the busiest times London has ever seen. Airwave’s employees pulled together 24/7 throughout the Games, either managing the business or helping our customers and users at the venues. It was without doubt the proudest moment in Airwave’s history.
Away from the high profile jobs, what else does your role entail on a day to day basis?
I manage a team of lawyers and the company secretarial function, and generally advise the business on all legal issues – mainly commercial, public procurement, regulatory, disputes and employment. I also sit on various internal committees, including Opcom, Remcom, Health & Safety and Pensions, and I act as the champion of business continuity. I also act as Excom sponsor to one of our strategic suppliers, Capita.
What are the organisation’s plans for its international expansion?
We have an operating business in Germany and licence our brand to a specialist communications organisation in Australia and New Zealand. Our European customer base continues to expand and we are exploring opportunities there and in the Middle East.
How is it being part of such a fast paced sector and how difficult is it to keep up to speed with cutting edge innovation and development?
The pace of change is part of the job satisfaction, as we are constantly evolving. Working alongside an experienced and talented senior management team who are experts in their respective fields helps me to keep up and contribute to the dynamic pace of the business. I rely on trusted external advisers who genuinely understand the business and how I operate.
Airwave’s parent company is currently refinancing its debt so what’s been your involvement in that process?
I have been assisting the various boards and advisors on validating and understanding the legal and contractual side of the business, and executing the outcome.
Finally, can you say in five words why you like being an in-house lawyer?
I’m learning something interesting daily.