We speak to Jas Kaur about working in-house at the world’s leading retail software and managed solutions providers
Jas, can you please summarise your education and career path to date?
I took a very traditional route into the legal field, studying law at the
University of Birmingham and then onto my LPC at The College of Law. I then
trained with Needham and James LLP, which later merged as part of what
is today known as Shakespeare’s. A couple of days after I qualified I was
thrown into the deep depths of the in-house IT world. It was exciting and
daunting all the same, and very rewarding. Starting out as Legal Counsel, then
moving onto Senior Legal Counsel and Head of Legal, I am now the Group General
Counsel of the PCMS Group of Companies.
What does PCMS Group do?
PCMS is a leading global retail software and managed solutions provider, chosen
by over 150 retail customers. PCMS provide and support more than 231,000 Point
of Sale units in over 49,000 Stores, situated in 59 different countries.
Over the last 37 years PCMS has
worked with many leading retail corporate organisations to provide combinations
of strategic and tactical outsourcing of managed IT support services. Our
products and services include: Software & Services (development and
support); Managed Services (managed IT services, data centre, contact centre) and
Customer Services (consultancy, programme management and account management); this
is all supported by our global Service Desk.
What kind of work do you undertake?
The question would be much easier if I told you what I don’t do! There is
plenty to get stuck into from strategic delivery of the legal function into the
wider business, being customer facing in the thick of a negotiation, to working
with the various stakeholders on commercial models and business delivery.
Recently, I have been involved in working alongside the Chief Commercial Officer
on new contracting structures and travelling globally to customer sites, to
build relationships and get agreements over the line.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about your current role?
The business is changing all the time, to accommodate the two rapidly changing
industries in which we operate, retail and IT – it’s like fireworks! This keeps
it fresh all the time and there isn’t a day when you aren’t learning something
new (cliché I know but very true). I have been with the business for over nine
years now and each day is as exciting as the next, the product, the people and
the customers! PCMS is the expert and is big enough that it is a key market
player but yet small enough that you can really make a difference. There
is ample opportunity in the business to facilitate change and growth, and to
make an impact.
What first attracted you to law?
I toyed between a career using Mathematics or taking up a vocation in Law. As
it happened, I very early on realised that the law didn’t actually mean that you
had to spend the day with your head in a book or that you had to be the most
proficient in using a spreadsheet! I was fortunate to have spent some time with
a number of lawyers early on, yes tax lawyers at that! It was interesting to
see how they treated the application of the law like a puzzle, looking for
avenues, options and thinking outside of the box. It was this that really took
my interest - I saw I could apply my skill-set of breaking down complex
concepts into digestible components and being able to communicate with people
of all different backgrounds, in a business setting.
Why did you choose a career in-house?
I am very much a people’s person, who enjoys being challenged and making an
impact. The in-house environment provides the perfect setting for this,
where I have real relationships with my colleagues (who also happen to be my
“clients” as you may call them), I’m always learning and having to think on the
front foot about our business and where we want to be, and I can see where I
can or have made a difference.
Could you ever see yourself moving over to private practice?
Never say never but it is very, highly, most probably unlikely (that is the
lawyer in me with all the caveats!)
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of working in-house?
Think about where your skill-set lie and what you want from a career. Being in-house is very rewarding and enjoyable but can also be very demanding and
challenging. If you enjoy thinking on your feet, have an appetite to grow and
develop and support those around you, then in-house will be perfect!
What four words best sum you up as a lawyer?
Commercial, interested, determined and personable.
Do you have a motto that you live by in business?
Set the result you want and then map the journey to get there.
Who has been your biggest career inspiration and why?
Very cliché but it has to be my dad. His motto has always been “anything is
possible, nothing is impossible” and he lives by it!
And finally, how do you switch off at the end of the day?
I play competitive badminton, practising a few nights a week and playing in
local matches. It’s fun and you meet some great people. I also enjoy spending
time with family and friends.