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Q&A: Mitch Kelly

Q&A: Mitch Kelly

Mitch Kelly, regional counsel & company secretary of Lenovo (Australia & New Zealand) Pty Ltd, talks about the important distinction between being professional and perfect.


How did you come to be the GC in your present role and what advice can you offer to aspiring in-house lawyers/General Counsel?

Short answer – A recruiter I’d worked with previously sought me out thinking my skills and experience presented Lenovo with a different opportunity compared against their target criteria.

Long answer – With the support, guidance and mentoring of family, friends and colleagues that helped me to maximise my opportunities. I started as a paralegal in-house at a telco while studying degrees in IT and Law full time, then transitioned to in-house in London, a law firm in Sydney and most recently working at a global systems integrator/outsourcer.

Guidance for aspiring in-house lawyers/General Counsel:

-            Know your business: Learn everything you can about your own environment and apply where possible.

-            Be unconditionally constructive: At all times seek to add value and explore options in a positive manner.

-            Be professional, not perfect: Sometimes we don’t have all the information, or issues can arise, so aim to be the calm, strong leadership guiding teams through troubled waters.

-            Communicate early with no surprises: Early visibility can make the difference when deciding upon options.


The role of the general counsel is diverse and multi-faceted.  In light of the James Hardie case, where/how does your GC role fit in with the business?

My role is a dotted line report to the ANZ Managing Director and sits as part of the ANZ leadership team. I also hold the position of company secretary.

I approach my role with the focus of being a proactive voice who, acting with appropriate care and diligence, presents a concise summary of known data points to help leadership make well informed decisions. I am fortunate to be supported by a principled and ethically strong leadership team who are cognisant of my professional obligations.


In your opinion, what do you consider to be the main challenges you face in your particular industry sector in the year ahead?

ANZ consumer and competition laws are the primary focus for Lenovo – though there will always be other legal issues that concern us. The majority of our products are consumer goods and we sell through multiple channels including selling directly, though web stores, retail providers and other reseller partners so we maintain a strong focus on ensuring compliance through our various processes and functional groups.

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