Sidley: What first attracted you to join Sidley?
Carl-Michael: In my previous job, I worked for the Swedish government on very interesting and substantive issues. However, people were perfectly satisfied with the status quo.
Sidley: There was the lack of incentive to do something extraordinary.
Carl Michael: Yes, definitely. At Sidley, I was so excited to dig into the tough questions. I really got a kick out of it. It was a great period for me from a professional development perspective. It gave me skills relevant for other areas in my life.
Sidley: People often talk about the energy of the office, about its “start-up” sensibility.
Carl-Michael Simon: Everybody felt it. I was there in the early days where we were really building something from nothing. It was a great atmosphere, an entrepreneurial one, filled with nice, smart people. And despite the challenges and daily pressures of building up the office from scratch, the leadership always took time to encourage and guide the junior lawyers. As a result, I learned a lot from the partners in Brussels about being a lawyer, how to manage people and how to motivate my own employees to excel. I took those values to heart and have used them throughout all the stages of my own career.
Sidley: It must have been gratifying to witness the office’s success over time.
Carl-Michael: Very much so. Every year, they have an anniversary party and I remember being there for the third celebration. You could feel the growth and development. It was tangible. It was the sense that everyone was aware that we were creating something special.
Sidley: What was unique about the culture in the day-to-day routine?
Carl-Michael: One of the things that has always stood out to me is the trust factor. The associates had the trust of the senior lawyers and were therefore more free to run with things. So even though I was junior, I could make important judgment calls. It was very exciting.
Sidley: What is your greatest takeaway from being with Sidley in Brussels?
Carl-Michael: What I learned most from Sidley was about collaboration. One cannot underestimate the importance of collaboration for achieving success. Also, everything had to be perfect in the work, regardless of how much money was being billed—or how big the client was. That was the standard—the values of Sidley. It was instilled in me and I try to instill that message everyday at my office as well.
Published February 2014 - UPDATE Vice President, Legal International, Vertex Pharmaceuticals (April 2016 – Present)
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