General Counsel, Europe, and Global Sales and Delivery, and Legal Executive Committee sponsor for Legal Operations
Christina Demetriades is the General Counsel, Europe, and Global Sales and Delivery, and is the Legal Executive Committee sponsor for Legal Operations, at Accenture. Accenture’s Legal Team is a team of 2800 legal professionals, equivalent in size to one of the world’s top 10 law firms, and spans the full range of legal practice areas.
In her role as Global Sales and Delivery lead for Accenture, Christina leads a team of 2300+ contracting and contract management professionals in 46 countries who support Accenture’s client sales and client contract delivery activities. Christina’s team – made up of more than 60% women – supports more than 100K won client opportunities a year.
Christina is a member of Accenture’s Capital Committee which governs the firms investments and most large and complex client engagements and a member of the Global Leadership Council.
Prior to joining Accenture in 2013, Christina was a partner at Baker & McKenzie for over 13 years and led their multi-award winning IT/Comm practice in London. Christina has worked in London and Australia, holds an LLB (Hons) from Bond University, Australia, was a Chevening Scholar and holds an LLM from London University. She lives in Northamptonshire, UK, with her husband and two children.
What is your professional background and how did you become involved in the world of commerce and contracting?
I started my career as a Tax lawyer, in Queensland. Unfortunately, the nature of tax practice at that time in Australia meant that, very often, our role came towards the end of a transaction. Others had shaped the deal, settled the commercial construct, and handled the negotiations. We would find ourselves, in the tax team, during the final throes of the deal, opining on the transaction and attempting to influence – not terribly effectively – the course of the deal. I found it deeply unsatisfying.
I knew that I really wanted to be able to have much more impact, and to be at the heart of the business. That is why, when I had completed my LLM, I decided to move into being a commercial lawyer. My focus over the last 25 years has been on IP, Digital, Outsourcing, Technology and ecommerce contracts, in private practice and for the last 7 years, inhouse. I have been able to shape transactions and been instrumental in helping grow our business at Accenture. I’ve also been able to build a world-class team that has handled a transformation of our focus from traditional outsourcing and SI contracts to Digital, Cloud, Security, Industry X and Applied Intelligence.
What are two personal achievements and contributions through your career.
One of my proudest achievements has been moving the needle on our team’s brand and reputation. When I joined Accenture, the team were seen as contributing to the company’s reputation of being difficult to do business with. I kicked off a project to redefine our relationship with the business, the first step was to face up to their uncomfortable feedback.
I re-examined the client experience of working with Legal, developing a strategy, based on what would have the greatest impact on that experience (focussed on speed to close, competitiveness and delivering real insights) which would deliver demonstrable value to Accenture.
I benchmarked our competitiveness, delivering insights that were valued by our internal clients. We used comprehensive change management around our team’s activities, and spearheaded Accenture’s development of innovative technology to unlock dark data in 1 million contract records, in 12 languages (https://www.accenture.com/us-en/case-studies/about/unleashing-insights-accentures-contracts) unleashing our team’s ingenuity.
Through stakeholder engagement, we secured the confidence of senior leadership, empowering our team to take smart risks and be trusted to own the most critical business decisions in our sales process, securing our place at the heart of Accenture’s business. Instead of feeling they had to use Legal, our business now proactively involve us early and see us a critical part of their success.
Covid-19 has illustrated the critical importance of helping women to realize their professional aspirations - what role have you played or are you currently playing within your organization to support women in their roles?
I am one of the sponsors of Legal’s Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) program. During this crisis, I have championed:
- deployment of flexible work arrangements for more than 99% of our workforce,
- virtual community building, and
- practical levers that help our people manage or share the burdens of home and work life, which can disproportionally women.
We know that in difficult times, law firms deprioritize I&D initiatives. During the 2008 economic downturn:
- Gains made in female associate representation in the legal profession declined from 2008, and numbers dipped for the first time in 20 years.
- The pay gap between women and men partners increased by 29%.
- Even though women were only 16% of the equity partnership, they accounted for 50% of the equity partners who were terminated.
As the sponsor for our Legal Panel, I wrote to our panel firms to ensure they treat diversity as a priority. I highlighted our commitment to support their I&D efforts, and ensure they staff our matters with a diverse group of attorneys. We have established, under my leadership, data driven I&D programs with our panel firms, including I&D awards, to incentivize our panel firms to align with our values and commitments on gender.