Following dreams to shape the future
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It’s evident Alisha thrives in high-energy, groundbreaking situations. That’s what has defined her journey so far, from her eye-opening month as part of A&O’s summer vacation scheme in 2009 to her current role as Lead Commercial Counsel in Media Partnerships at Meta, the company that owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, among other products and services.
It’s as cutting edge as they come. “Many of the challenges we’re dealing with have never come up before,” says Alisha, “so we’re learning and adapting as we go. It’s great to be a part of the discussion as we truly are shaping the future.”
This may not be exactly what was on her mind when she first joined A&O, but Alisha is a person who, it’s fair to say, has made the most of opportunities and developed a vision for where she wants her career to take her, and she’s truly made it happen.
“I’ve always believed that the best way to decide whether a career is right for you is to gain work experience in order to give you a general overview of the type of work you will be exposed to, and the people you will be working with. I’d gained work experience at my local magistrates’ court and a high-street solicitors but it was my vacation schemes which gave me a real insight into corporate life and the day-to-day work of trainees and associates.”
A great learning environment
“I was attracted to A&O by the chance to work on challenging and headline-making deals for an extensive and varied client base and to learn from super-talented individuals who are friendly, approachable and supportive. A&O offers so many opportunities. It taught me that anything is possible.”
From that point, Alisha knew she wanted to work at A&O, and was delighted to join as a trainee in 2012, alongside her fellow intake, who she is now fortunate enough to call lifelong friends.
“We’re a very close-knit group and regularly keep in touch. We had our 10-year anniversary in 2022, which was another great opportunity for us to connect. While some have moved on, I’d like to mention Laura Lumley, Nicholas Gomes and Niamh Murphy who are doing amazingly well at A&O.”
I was attracted to A&O by the chance to work on challenging and headline-making deals for an extensive and varied client base.
During her training, Alisha’s seats were wide-reaching and gave her a good grounding in a range of specialisms as well as building transferable skills that have stood her in good stead for her career. She started in Derivatives and Structured Finance (DSF) before moving to Structured Asset Finance. Her third seat was in Corporate M&A, and this is where she felt most aligned.
Her final seat was in DSF at the New York office, another brilliant opportunity: “I wanted to work in one of the core markets in which A&O is trying to establish more of a presence and more generally, is a key legal and financial centre. I absolutely loved my secondment. I learned and witnessed differences between London and New York in terms of negotiation style and drafting, and I gained exposure to the different regulatory environment in the U.S.
“On a personal level, I enjoyed the chance to meet many people from different backgrounds and experience a new culture and way of life.
“My legal team and main clients at Meta are now predominantly based in New York, so it seems full circle.”
After qualifying as an associate in September 2014, Alisha joined the Corporate M&A team. She initially worked on public and private M&A, joint ventures and general advisory work, and had the pleasure of working with large corporates across many industries.
A passion for tech
A seven-month secondment to Aviva in 2016 provided Alisha with great exposure to the technology sector, as Aviva was investing in insuretech start-ups. Alisha drafted and negotiated documentation for venture capital deals and flourished in this innovative environment, pivoting to focus on tech upon her return to A&O.
Having someone you trust who you can share your aspirations and priorities with is invaluable.
“The passion and determination that tech founders display about their businesses is infectious, and I discovered tech is where my passion lies.”
In February 2020, Alisha was seconded to Meta’s Commercial Legal team focusing on payments. Meta builds technologies that help people connect, find communities and grow businesses. Finding herself in a new practice area during a global pandemic, her experience of working in such varied roles served Alisha well, as she needed to adapt quickly to new situations and learn fast.
“I only worked in the office for a few weeks before Covid-19 hit, and we were forced to work remotely. The projects that I’d been seconded to support were pushed back, as we had to pivot to new matters which were launched in response to what was happening and a six-month secondment became 18 months!”
Alisha thrived in such a fast-paced innovative company with a unique culture and found it inspiring working alongside such talented individuals. By August 2021, Alisha knew she wanted to join Meta and it was the position of Lead Commercial Counsel in Media Partnerships focusing on news that most interested her.
Alisha’s role is varied and evolving – from structuring and negotiating agreements with news publishers for rights to a range of content for Meta’s products and initiatives, working with news publishers to strengthen the connection between journalists and the communities they serve through training and grant programmes, managing risks with commercial partners, dealing with misinformation on the platform through Meta’s third-party fact-checking programme to advising and strategising on new regulatory matters.
At Meta, we’re constantly innovating; therefore, our advisors need to be able to keep up with a fast-moving business that is breaking boundaries.
“Many of the challenges we’re dealing with, such as the ever-changing regulatory landscape, including the implementation of the European Copyright Directive throughout the EU, have never come up before. We collaborate with a wide cross-functional team and it’s great to learn, absorb and be a part of the discussion as we navigate these changes.”
Meta offers many opportunities to be involved in diversity, equity and inclusion, and Alisha is passionate about the work she does.
The power of mentoring
As part of the organisation committee, Alisha runs Meta’s EMEA Legal Mentorship Scheme in partnership with Aspiring Solicitors, an annual eight-week scheme for students from under-represented backgrounds across the UK and Ireland providing mentoring, work shadowing and presentations. She was delighted that 80% of the students who participated in the 2021 scheme secured jobs in the legal profession.
Winning ‘Best Work Placement – 2022’ at the Aspiring Solicitors’ Annual DEI Awards was a proud moment, but more importantly, she says, “we hope that it shines a light on a different way to run a mentorship scheme and encourages other companies to set up similar schemes to provide as many opportunities as possible.”
Alisha reflects on what her own mentors have meant to her throughout her career. “Having someone you trust who you can share your aspirations and priorities with is invaluable. They can act as a sounding board and provide actionable advice to point you in the right direction. At A&O, Will Samengo-Turner, co-head of technology for EMEA, was a great mentor, and played a key role in my pivot into tech. He encouraged me to follow my passion and was invested in me achieving my goals.”
Life is never boring for Alisha at Meta. A key priority for Meta is building the metaverse, together with others, to create the next evolution of social technology. Meta sees huge growth potential in building, with others, this next computing platform and ecosystem to enable people to connect, work, play, learn and shop in the metaverse, and Alisha is well-placed to be part of it.
Moving in-house from a secondment has given Alisha a good view on what to look for in an external advisor.
“Here at Meta, the nature of what we do means there often isn’t a precedent set for the way we do things,” she says, “so it’s about working with intelligent, responsive and proactive external advisors who can grasp new concepts quickly.
“It’s important they understand our products and services and the challenges we face so their advice is provided with that context in mind. At Meta, we’re constantly innovating; therefore, our advisors need to be able to keep up with a fast-moving business that is breaking boundaries.”
The A&O Mentoring Programme is open to alumni, partners and employees. Find out more at allenovery.com/alumni.
Lead Commercial Counsel, Media Partnerships at Meta