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Siriol Wyn Jones, Associate General Counsel at HSBC

Alumni spotlight

Siriol Wyn Jones

Associate General Counsel at HSBC

Siriol started her career as a paralegal at Eversheds Sutherland before training and qualifying with the firm as a banking lawyer.

After a secondment to HSBC, she joined the bank permanently seven years ago, rising to become an Associate General Counsel for HSBC Asia. She is passionate about legal design (HSBC recently won an FT Award for Innovation), mental health and, as she reveals, loves a good chat…

When did you first come into contact with Eversheds Sutherland?

I started as a paralegal in 2006, when I had the good fortune to work with Peter Watkin Jones and Sarah Jones on the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry.

That was a tremendous experience at such an early stage in my career. I got a really solid grounding, learning to take ownership of complex problems and working effectively within a team to get the right results – these remained a focus during my training and beyond.

Peter and Sarah were great leaders – giving me autonomy to deliver based on my strengths, whilst providing guidance and coaching as I navigated many challenges in those early years.

After training, you qualified into Banking, didn’t you?

Yes, and unusually at the time, I moved one year into my training contract from the Cardiff office to the London office.

I really loved it at One Wood Street, I felt at home there.


Siriol as an associate in our Banking Team

Siriol as an associate in our Banking Team

You also went on a number of secondments?

Three actually, and the third one was to HSBC. I was working with Indraj Mangat, who encouraged me to take up that secondment. It was very enlightened, he knew it would be great for my development and present me with new challenges.

Indraj and I were polar opposites: whereas I’m a Welsh chatterbox, a bundle of energy and outgoing, Indraj is a man of few (yet wise) words. We both used to get to the office very early and I could see him sort of slide down in his chair thinking, “Oh no, here she comes full speed ahead wanting to chat!”

How did the firm influence your development as a lawyer?

Eversheds Sutherland taught me the importance of commercial acumen, offering solutions-based advice to clients, excellent project management, among other skills, for many clients on a wide variety of complex deals.

And now as an in-house lawyer, these skills remain vitally important.

I have been fortunate throughout my career, and notably at Eversheds Sutherland, to be able to call on others to help me navigate the varied and numerous challenges that face us as lawyers. I continue to benefit from their wise counsel, whether its career development or handling a complex situation.

Knowing the value of these relationships, I take up any opportunity I can to coach and mentor other lawyers. I also currently lead a great coaching circle of non-lawyers at HSBC – it’s enriching to connect with others who have different perspectives and experiences.

What do you think is the number one skill an in-house lawyer needs?

Clichéd as it sounds (yet no less true), stakeholder management and a client-centric approach is crucial. Knowing people and tailoring your approach depending on the audience and situation is key.

Can you elaborate on that?

My role is to support and enable the business to grow sustainably: that means providing pragmatic risk management and exercising good judgment in a fast-changing environment. Speaking up and highlighting risks is part of our daily role.

We work with stakeholders to consider practical next steps, balancing risk and reward. In order to do this well, we have to have a deep understanding of the organisation, its stakeholders and strategic focus.

You recently won a Financial Times award for legal innovation. How did that come about?

HSBC won the ‘Legal Design’ Award from the FT 2021 Asia Pacific Innovative Lawyers Awards. A number of us at HSBC who are passionate about legal design worked with agencies to redesign our customer T&Cs to make them more user-friendly and enhance the customer journey.

We rendered them as easy to read as a children’s book – The Gruffalo in this case – then used customer testing, branding, visuals and behavioural science to make the documents more accessible.

How did your journey into the law begin?

Well I actually spent much of my adolescence acting in plays and on screen – I was a child actress for a Welsh television programme. It was such a fun and unusual experience. I decided not to channel my energies into pursuing the stage and screen (let’s just say I was never in the running for any awards), and so I channelled them towards the law library!

 

Siriol completes a 250km hike and run during Movember

Siriol completes a 250km hike and run during Movember

How do you stay happy and energised?

My beautiful family with two small children are an unending source of inspiration and motivation. I lead an active lifestyle – that helps me to expend some of my relentless energy and to maintain a positive outlook when faced with challenges or pressures.

I couldn’t be more passionate about the importance of physical and mental wellbeing in our profession. I’ve spoken on these issues across HSBC and, last November, I hiked and ran 250 kilometres in one month to raise funds in aid of reducing male suicide.

This was in memory of my father whom we lost well before his time.

Full, frank conversations are necessary to shake the stigma around mental health. The onus is on all of us to keep talking and do what we can to shift the paradigm.