SYDNEY FIRM Cutler Hughes & Harris has taken the unusual step of appointing a non-lawyer as its new chief operating officer.
The newly-created role has been taken up by Robin Parkes, the former general manager of niche marketing company OgilvyAction.
Parkes described the position of chief operating officer as a “dual-faced role”, which will involve both looking after the internal day-to-day operations of the firm as well as driving the firm’s strategic plan externally.
She believes that in appointing someone with a non-legal background, the firm is taking an innovative step. “I think it’s a very bold decision that they’ve made, but it very much supports their way of doing things differently,” she said. “I guess they’ve put their money where their mouth is. They’ve been advising their clients that it’s about commerciality and having a strong business focus and now they’ve actually done that internally as well.”
Parkes explained that there were several factors that drew her to Cutlers and to the position. “I was looking for a change from what I was doing and this role had the beauty of being operationally similar whilst being in a totally different industry, so there are lots of new challenges,” she said.
“[The partners at the firm] have a very strong five-year strategic plan, they’re poised for growth and they’re committed to their vision. This role I feel will give me the autonomy to make a difference and to have an impact on the firm.”
The new chief operating officer was very clear about what she wants for the firm: “Growth. Growth is our strategy — growth in partners, in numbers, in new business and in revenue,” she said.
Parkes has a strong commercial background, having an MBA in marketing and general management and experience in advertising, marketing, research, accounting and banking.