20 May 2021

Around the house: legal leaders arrive at Arup and Celonis

Arup's new general counsel Margot Day

This week's collection of in-house counsel moves also sees Ashurst add a former Deutsche Bank GC

Engineering consultancy veteran for Arup

London-based construction and engineering services firm Arup Group has named Margot Day as its new general counsel. She is taking over from Clare Marshall, who is leaving Arup after 20 years to launch a specialist business consultancy.

Day joins Arup after spending much of her career in-house at construction and engineering consultancies, most recently serving as global director of risk, commercial and legal at Buro Happold. She was also UK general counsel for Arcadis and UK legal counsel and company secretary for Hyder Consulting. Her areas of expertise include construction and engineering law, dispute resolution, risk management and contract negotiation.

Arup chair Alan Belfield said: “We are delighted to have Margot join us, she brings a wealth of expertise in our sector. I am sure she will help us build deeper relationships with our clients to help navigate the complex environment in which we often operate.”

Day is currently chair of the legal and commercial group at The Association for Consulting and Engineering, which addresses legal and risk issues of concern to the industry and has also provided advice via the Construction Leadership Council on contractual issues and matters related to professional indemnity insurance.

First CLO for German unicorn Celonis

Munich and New York-based data mining software firm Celonis has named Vanessa Candela as its first chief legal officer.

Candela, based in Boston, has joined Celonis from a position as chief legal officer and chief compliance officer at NEC subsidiary Netcracker Technology. Before that, she served as vice president and general counsel at Virtustream and spent more than nine years as assistant general counsel at EMC before its merger with Dell, where her focus included M&A, strategic investments and securities law.

At Celonis, Candela will be responsible for leading and scaling the company's global legal function and will report to co-CEO and co-founder Bastian Nominacher as part of the business’ executive team.

In a statement, Nominacher described Candela as a “top-notch” corporate attorney who brings “experience and insight that will help us embrace the opportunities ahead of us as we enter our next stage of growth.”

The firm closed a $290m series C funding round at the end of 2019 that raised its valuation to $2.5bn and since then has been busily expanding internationally, most recently opening in Milan in March, and adding to its executive board.

Ashurst adds former Deutsche Bank GC in Frankfurt

London-headquartered law firm Ashurst has added former Deutsche Bank general counsel Florian Drinhausen as a partner in its corporate team in Frankfurt.

Drinhausen served as Deutsche Bank’s group GC from 2018-2020, having joined in 2014 as GC, EMEA and in the interim serving in senior roles including chief governance officer. Before that, he was Frankfurt head of corporate at Linklaters and also served as an associate for five years at Frankfurt-based firm Hengeler Mueller. His practice focuses on corporate governance, M&A in the financial services industry, investigations and anti-money laundering.

"Florian has a stand-out reputation and a deep understanding of the financial and other industries in Germany which will be invaluable to our firm's success," said Munich and Frankfurt office managing partner Derk Opitz. "Further developing and strengthening the German corporate team is a key focus for our offices here and we are thrilled that Florian will be joining us."

Drinhausen added: “The continued growth of Ashurst in Germany and throughout Continental Europe is of significant strategic importance to the firm and I am delighted that I can play a part in that growth." 

Biopharma experience for Cogent

Nasdaq-listed Cogent Biosciences has found a new chief legal officer and corporate secretary in Evan Kearns. He will oversee all corporate legal operations for the biotech company, which focuses on developing precision therapies for genetically defined diseases

Cogent president and CEO Andrew Robbins commented that Kearns’ “expert counsel and proven leadership in advising life science companies will be invaluable as we initiate clinical studies this year while building a research pipeline of novel targeted therapies."

Kearns has joined Cogent in Boston from a six-year stint at biopharmaceutical company Agenus, where he most recently served as VP, GC, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer and guided the company through multiple clinical and preclinical programs.

Earlier in his career, Kearns also had positions as an associate in the Boston offices of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge and Goodwin Procter, where he advised companies on matters including corporate and securities law, M&A, financing transactions and corporate governance.

Affirm looks in-house for next legal leader

Former Toyota Financial Services GC Katherine Adkins is set to become the top lawyer at fintech startup Affirm, which listed on the Nasdaq earlier this year.

Adkins joined San Francisco-based Affirm in 2019 after spending 10 years as group vice president, general counsel and secretary for Toyota Financial Services, one of the largest auto finance providers in the world. She currently serves as chief legal adviser for banking strategy at the startup, which provides point-of-sale financing to online customers and raised roughly $1.2bn through an IPO in January. Earlier she also worked in private practice at Los Angeles firms Walker Wright Tyler & Ward and Robie & Matthai.

Adkins will take over in her new role 30 June from Sharda Caro del Castillo, who prior to joining Affirm was global head of payments at Airbnb and is stepping down after 18 months as Affirm’s CLO, CCO and corporate secretary.

New GC for Quest Apartment Hotels ahead of international growth  

Quest Apartment Hotels, Australasia’s largest serviced apartment operator, has made Dennis Tuan-Mu its new GC as part of a senior restructure ahead of global expansion. The Ascott subsidiary has also announced Kamal Atal has stepped into the role of chief financial and commercial officer.

Tuan-Mu has joined Quest in Melbourne following an 11-year tenure with global hospitality and food service management provider Delaware North, where he held the role of head of legal and compliance APAC. Prior to that, he served as senior corporate counsel in Melbourne for Mitsui’s Australian subsidiary and also had a career in private practice at Ashurst and Australian firms Mills Oakley and Stamford.

The Ascott managing director David Mansfield described Tuan-Mu as “capable of managing the intricacies of our business format franchise model,” with his function to “streamline and strengthen” Quest’s legal function intended to enable “ongoing, sustainable” growth for the business.  

Quest has recently announced it will open seven new hotels in New Zealand over the next few years, with Mansfield adding the company will reveal plans for new sites throughout the UK over 2021: “Serviced apartment style accommodation comprises a significantly lower proportion of the overall accommodation market in the UK. Working closely with The Ascott, which has an established footprint across Europe, Kamal and Dennis will create the legal and financial frameworks to incrementally put the Quest brand on the map”.

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