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Q&A with Julia Hayhoe

10 August 2017

Julia Hayhoe is the chief strategy officer for Baker McKenzie and sits on the Global Executive Committee.

Joanna Perkins

You're talking to a friend of a friend at a party. How do you describe what you do?

I help shape and build a global legal business and profession of the future.

What was your first job?

A newspaper round, come rain or shine, and a dish washer in a restaurant. Given these dying trades, I wonder what my 10-year-old son will do to earn his early keep! 

Career highlight?

Legally - pursuing a medical negligence claim successfully and compassionately, for a lady who lost her legs to gangrene due to medical neglect and arrogance.

Commercially - being part of a team shaping the future of the firm and wider profession.

What are you working on at the moment?

As a global firm, understanding where markets and clients are at on globalisation is critical. So we are thinking through and planning for the future markets and industries we need to strengthen and potentially enter into. Interestingly, this can be a virtual presence and has as much to do with knowing how to marshal existing talent in teams, increasingly by industry sector. We utilise innovation, AI and technology to deliver services differently to meet clients' changing needs.

Share some great advice you've been given.

Stay true to your values.

What's in your desk drawers?

Apart from the usual stationary rubble, flyers for theatre productions I haven't yet got to and shoes due to my walk to work in trainers.

Can you recommend a local lunch or coffee spot?

The Lalit London hotel, a recently beautifully and sensitively restored derelict former school. A wonderful mix of Edwardian architecture, arts and crafts interiors and spectacular blue Hyderabad-style chandeliers.

How do you relax?

It’s a work in progress! But I find pottering in the garden, walking and time with family and friends helps.

What's your pet hate?

Littering and more significantly, bullying.

Sum up working as a solicitor in one word.

Opportunity.

Favourite city?

Right now - London - and a London that is open to all.

What book is on your bedside table?

Too many!

  • Prisoners of Geography - Tim Marshall
  •  Where India meets China: Burma Asia's New Crossroads - Thant Myint
  •  The Enemy Within - Sayeeda Warsi
  •  Just so Stories - Kipling.

What needs to happen to get more women into leadership roles?

Proper policy and structural change (Notably: 3-5 year talent pipelines, thoughtful sponsorship programmes, 'unconscious bias' training, agile working) and leadership role modelling and accountability. Though probably most significantly and within everyone's control, is if we all feel responsible and take action at the individual level.

This is equally important for wider inclusion and diversity: LGBT, ethnicity and social mobility.

If you hadn't become a solicitor, what would you have done?

Ultimately building and running some form of business.