“Anyone who has spent time working with me will tell you that I am very passionate about what I do,” Kristi Anne Gedid says. Certainly, taking on the role of senior director of global legal operations for global pharmaceutical company Mylan is no small feat, especially considering the company’s recent growth. But Gedid’s dedication to her work, her willingness to be courageous, think big, and take calculated risks, as well as her patience and persistence make her the perfect person for the job.
“I’m a big process and procedure person, much to some people’s chagrin,” Gedid says, laughing. “I like to build things, set them free, and watch them work.”
The senior director who describes every chance to find a new efficiency as a “little treasure hunt” has spent the past nearly six years helping build out standardization and transparency strategies for a globalized company in addition to building her own legal operations team.
“We had to try to piece together a bunch of different business models, practices, and cultures in which people are operating,” Gedid explains. “The biggest challenge has been trying to get everyone standardized into one Mylan, with common processes despite operating in different ways all over the world.”
Gedid says the legal department was able to mitigate many of the challenges simply by working cross-functionally and in concert with the business. “We rely on that support from the business to back anything we’re trying to standardize or put in place,” Gedid says. “We’ve worked well together as a group across all of our different regions and, fortunately, we have a good group of people regardless of where they are, who make sure things come together.”
Gedid doesn’t believe there is one secret ingredient that makes a team successful. As her team has grown, however, she has learned how to make it stronger regardless of which part of the world they’re in. Taking the time to converse individually with her local legal operations members, planning whole-team meetings, and bonding teams throughout the entire business builds trust, rapport, and successful working relationships, she says.
“Having a group of individuals who cannot understand each other and collaborate will cause a team to fail every time,” Gedid notes. “I have been lucky enough to have an incredible team of men and women at Mylan. They are a perfect blend of backgrounds, personalities, and cultures, driven by a common purpose.”
The director of legal operations role—let alone the team—isn’t something that many would have found even half a decade ago. “If you look back at the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium five years ago, they only had a couple hundred members. Now there’s over three thousand,” Gedid explains. “What I bring to the role that may be different from those in the past who have been similarly positioned is that I have both the business as well as the legal background. That gives me a unique ability and perspective to be able to communicate effectively with both groups.” Gedid has been able to act as a liaison of sorts between legal and business, effectively keeping a foot in both camps to help facilitate communication and cooperation.
“[My team is] a perfect blend of backgrounds, personalities, and culture, driven by a common purpose. They work together to make what can seem impossible come together seamlessly.”
Another reason Gedid has been able to operate so effectively is the degree to which she has gone to learn about Mylan’s business. “I really embedded myself into the business and asked a lot of questions, even when they would get annoyed with me,” Gedid says jovially. “They understood that I really wanted to understand and appreciate what they were doing. And now, I’m able to sit in a place where I can have a conversation with a general counsel in a particular region and recognize when a certain process they’re working to implement may be able to be repurposed to another location so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
As a leader, Gedid brings that same energy into the rest of her growing team by hiring individuals who are strive for continued education and self-improvement. She looks specifically for people who stray from straight-line career paths—people who work across different industries, different cultures, or have unique educational backgrounds. In fact, within her team of thirteen, almost half have gone back to school to earn MBAs, Master of Law degrees, or JDs.
“These are the types of individuals that I have found bring the most to the table,” Gedid says. “They are creative, thoughtful, highly adaptive to change, and hungry to use their talents to be part of building something great. Their commitment to the team and their work ethic is something to be emulated. I am very proud of each and every one of them.”
Gedid explains that the high standards she places on herself cascade to her team. Throughout her professional career, she has learned that leading by example and becoming a mentor is the best way to inspire others to become leaders and mentors of the future.
“Be an advocate for someone, whether it is related to your professional or personal life,” Gedid advises. “I have been fortunate to have a leadership team that gives me guidance and support, and I am incredibly grateful for the time they have set aside to coach me toward reaching my goals.”
Caring for Critters
Among Kristi Anne Gedid’s passions is her work as a board member for the Animal Care & Assistance Fund (ACAF), a nonprofit organization that assists qualified family-owned pets that need emergency or specialty care.
“I have always been a huge animal lover,” Gedid says. “I currently have three dogs and two cats. All but two are rescues. I am always looking for ways to support local efforts to raise money for various shelters in the Pittsburgh area. It brings me a great deal of happiness to help families and pets who otherwise cannot help themselves.”
Increasingly, legal functions tell us they want to operate more efficiently and transparently, and have insight into the data, analytics and intelligence associated with their legal matters and operations. General counsels want to relieve their in-house teams from performing high-volume repeatable activities and transform them into a more integrated, strategic partner. EY can help. www.ey.com