Lawyers share top hon­ours in this year’s Western Canada Gen­eral Coun­sel Awards.

National Post (Latest Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Jim Mid­dle­miss

How to de­cide which l a wyer should get the nod for gen­eral coun­sel of the year was a chal­lenge. On the one hand, there’s one of the big­gest merger and ac­qui­si­tion deals in the pipe­line busi­ness, and on the other is a scrappy and grow­ing forestry firm that — yet again — finds it­self em­broiled in the soft­wood lum­ber dis­pute.

So this year’s judg­ing panel solved that by declar­ing a rare tie, award­ing top hon­ours to a cou­ple of sea­soned gen­eral coun­sel: Harry An­der­sen, se­nior vice- pres­i­dent, ex­ter­nal af­fairs and chief le­gal of­fi­cer at Cal­gary-based Pem­bina Pipe­line Corp., and David M. Cal­abrigo, se­nior vice- pres­i­dent, cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment, le­gal af­fairs and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary at Can­for Corp. and Can­for Pulp Prod­ucts Inc.

It’s been a busy year for both. In the spring, Pem­bina bought smaller ri­val Vere­sen Inc. for $ 9.7 bil­lion. An­der­sen called it a “trans­for­ma­tional deal” that makes Pem­bina one of the largest en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture com­pa­nies in the coun­try, with a 10,000-km net­work of pipe­lines in B.C., Al­berta, Saskatchewan and North Dakota.

“I’m heav­ily in­volved in ac­qui­si­tions,” says An­der­sen. “That’s a big part of my role.”

Pem­bina, which traces its roots to 1954, went pub­lic in 1997 in a $ 62- mil­lion IPO. Fol­low­ing the Vere­sen ac­qui­si­tion, Pem­bina’s enterprise value topped $31 bil­lion.

“The pace of change is un­prece­dented” in the en­ergy sec­tor, An­der­sen says. There is more to come, too, as the sec­tor pre­pares for a “mas­sive swell of change com­ing on the reg­u­la­tory side,” with a re­vamp­ing of the Na­tional En­ergy Board.

At Van­cou­ver- based Can­for, Cal­abrigo has seen his com­pany grow dra­mat­i­cally since he joined in 2001. His role has ex­panded from a purely le­gal func­tion to in­clude such tasks as cor­po­rate strat­egy and de­vel­op­ment, over­see­ing hu­man re­sources and di­rect­ing cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture — de­ci­sions that help shape the fu­ture of the firm.

Can­for is one of the world’s largest pro­duc­ers of lum­ber, pulp and pa­per, with 13 sawmills, four pulp mills and 14 plants. Founded in 1938, it op­er­ates in Canada, the U. S., Asia and Europe. Much of its ex­pan­sion in the past few years has been in the U. S. south­east, led by Cal­abrigo.

Can­for has been busy snap­ping up fam­ily-op­er­ated mills and closely held com­pa­nies as the lum­ber sec­tor con­sol­i­dates. Cal­abrigo said the big­gest change he has seen in his 16 years as an in­house lawyer has been the global ex­pan­sion of busi­ness.

“Busi­ness trans­ac­tions hap­pen on an in­ter­na­tional scale,” he says. “No longer can gen­eral coun­sel fo­cus on the prov­ince or coun­try in which he or she op­er­ates.” In fact, this re­quires the build­ing of a net­work of le­gal ex­perts around the globe.

An­der­sen has also seen global changes in the busi­ness land­scape. Shortly be­fore join­ing Pem­bina, he was in­volved with one of the first ma­jor oil­sands in­vest­ments by a Chi­nese firm, PetroChina’s in­vest­ment in Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. in 2009. It was an “in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence," he says, “un­der­stand­ing the Chi­nese cul­ture and how they do busi­ness.”

An­der­sen said one of the things he takes most pride in is “de­vel­op­ing our peo­ple.” Six of his di­rect re­ports are ei­ther now vice-pres­i­dents or “bur­geon­ing VPs” within the com­pany, in­clud­ing four from the le­gal depart­ment. “I’ve seen them grow their wings in some­thing that is not law.”

De­vel­op­ing busi­ness acu­men to com­ple­ment le­gal skills is crit­i­cal to ad­vance­ment, he says. For­mer CEO David Emer­son asked Cal­abrigo early in his ca­reer to take on hu­man re­sources af­ter some­one sud­denly re­tired. Cal­abrigo told his boss he wasn’t in­ter­ested, but Emer­son told him he had to “think dif­fer­ently” if he wanted to ad­vance and de­velop in the com­pany. “I never thought of it that way. It opened my eyes to other things I could do in the com­pany,” Cal­abrigo said, and he hasn’t looked back.

In fact, it’s ad­vice he still gets from cur­rent CEO Don Kayne. “He is all about that with me,” Cal­abrigo says, not­ing Kayne en­cour­ages him to get in­volved in all as­pects of op­er­a­tions and strat­egy, rather than sim­ply “sit­ting in my of­fice think­ing about le­gal con­tracts.”

An­der­sen adds that the key to suc­cess as a gen­eral coun­sel is be­ing proac­tive and de­vel­op­ing the mind­set to run a busi­ness. For lawyers steeped in the law, but not nec­es­sar­ily man­ag­ing peo­ple, that is not an easy tran­si­tion, he notes. To help that along, An­der­sen hired a per­sonal coach to learn how to man­age large groups of peo­ple. “I swal­lowed my pride,” he says, adding that hir­ing a coach “was one of the best things I have done.”

Fi­nal­ists in the gen­eral coun­sel of the year cat­e­gory in­cluded: Michel Bélec, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent, chief le­gal of­fi­cer and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary, Telus In­ter­na­tional; Pierre Mag­nan, in­terim se­nior vice-pres­i­dent, sup­ply and trad­ing, and vice- pres­i­dent, gen­eral coun­sel and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary, Park­land Fuel Corp.; Paul M. Men­des, vi­cepres­i­dent, le­gal, gen­eral coun­sel and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary, Cana­dian Nat­u­ral Re­sources Ltd.; Bar­bara Mun­roe, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent, cor­po­rate ser­vices and gen­eral coun­sel, WestJet Air­lines Ltd.

IT OPENED MY EYES TO OTHER THINGS I COULD DO IN THE COM­PANY.

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