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Top 10 30-Something 2017: Gladys Chun

Top Ten 30 Somethings
G ladys Chun, general counsel of the e-commerce giant Lazada, needs to make room on her mantel after a busy few years. In addition to this honor, she received the “In-house Counsel of Distinction” award at the Asia Legal Awards in Hong Kong earlier this year, as well as sharing the “Deal of the Year” for the US$1 billion stake in the company by Alibaba, the Chinese technology company, and the ultimate prize of “Legal Department of the Year.” Indeed, things are moving fast and there is a lot of celebrate.

Chun joined Lazada in early 2014 when the legal department only had three employees. It now has a legal and compliance department of more than 30. During its rapid growth, the imperative for the legal department was to keep up and scale. That meant that Chun had to put in place processes (including automation tools) and policies governing the contract review process that prioritized the contract according to a business matrix. Using a Formstack solution (which was entirely coded by an especially talented lawyer within her team), critical information like vendor identity, payment terms, and commercial terms are captured. This allows the team to have full visibility of all contract submissions and track the progress of each review. The transparency (including the ability to monitor drop rate and lead time) allows the legal department to forecast which business units need the most legal help.

Lazada uses a similar approach to nondisclosure agreements (NDA). As the commercial team signs a phenomenal amount of NDAs spread across six countries, the legal department was inundated. Instead of managing the process for the business team, the legal department created a comprehensive NDA self-service tool that is comprised of detailed process charts to educate and empower the business team to request, negotiate, and execute NDAs with minimal legal input but optimal legal oversight. The NDA is then automatically routed to the correct signatory using DocuSign so ware and led on a cloud-shared database for easy access. “It is hugely successful from a business risk mitigation standpoint,” she says.

In Q3 2016, Lazada acquired Redmart, an online grocery company that has established logistics and technological capabilities, which fills another niche of e-commerce. “Lazada sees itself as a brand-building platform, offering advertising spaces, advanced targeted capability, and state-of-art branding and marketing technology,” she says.

In addition to the blazing speed of a prominent startup, the other major challenge for Chun is the diversity of its business region. Operating in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, Lazada needs to navigate murky local laws, six languages, opaque business practices, and confusing cultural nuances. A notable asset is Jack Ma, the Chinese businessman who founded Alibaba Group, and now advises several governments in the region. Chun hopes that by working together with Alibaba and other industry associations, Lazada will be able to steer an omnibus e-commerce law that will unite the disparate laws under a single authority. It’s an opportunity for the business to shape trade, intellectual property, and consumer protection laws in the Southeast Asia region.

As the company expands, Chun continues to think about how to make Lazada a truly technology-driven platform. She expects to spend more time with her business counterparts exploring and implementing a design mentality in delivering legal solutions to the business. “The future is to be the best in what we do. We should constantly challenge status quo and embrace changes. Break boundaries as fear inhibits you from creating something big,” she says. With its focus on the future, it’s likely that there will be more honors and awards going to Lazada.

More Top 10 30-Somethings of 2017

Charlie Bingham
Katia Bloom
Thomas Chow
Leilani Harbeck
Jennifer Holsman Tetreault
Dan Seltzer
Jocelyn Shaw
Christina Zabat-Fran

About the Author

Joshua Shields is the associate editor of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

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