Miranda Leung: Former lawyer with a portfolio of satisfying roles
We recently welcomed Portfolio Lawyer, Miranda Leung, to BCKR.
Miranda left Slaughter and May three years ago after 26 years with the firm. She had spent four years in Hong Kong in that time but the rest in London as a finance lawyer.
Miranda decided to leave Slaughters when her mother became unwell and she returned to Hong Kong to be closer to her family. She had no other plans. She just knew she didn’t want to do part time law and ultimately wanted to remain in London. She did have an interest in interior design and signed up for a course in London but as it turned out, she soon realised that she didn’t have the patience to deal with interior design clients and learning all the relevant software programmes etc, so decided to keep this interest as a hobby.
Her portfolio career developed by chance. Her first trustee role with China Literature Ltd (a subsidiary of Tencent whom she used to act for) came about when the Chair, who she also knew through a transaction, heard she was retiring invited her to a drink and the process went on from there. China Literature only started up 7 years ago but is now the largest e-book seller with a revenue of $11 billion, with 11 million books, accounting for 84% of the best-selling literature in China. Miranda sits on their Audit and Risk and RemCo Committees. Her main role is as an Independent Non-Executive Director. The Independents’ role is to police transactions between the parent company and the listed company and frame policies and procedures that allow day to day transactions to take place according to known terms. As a lawyer, she was probably better placed to think about the details than many and she probably goes about it with rather more rigour than some. The role has allowed her to understand better the ins and outs of running a business in China and has given her a lot of board experience on the regulatory side.
Miranda then got a role in London with the Commodities Trading Company, an investment arm of China Construction Bank, a large trader on the London Metal Exchange. They were specifically looking for a lawyer to be a member of their board as it is a joint venture and following the r=governance rules matters. She was chosen because of her experience as a Financial Services lawyer and it probably helped that she also speaks pretty good Mandarin. CTC offers a very different role from her e-publishing one, as they were in the early stages of building their clientele, along with all their financially regulated systems. They needed policies and procedures to be designed for board and regulator approval. This role gave Miranda good hand on exposure to boards within the London financial services arena. It requires her to have an understanding of the management team’s frustrations in having to deal with GDPR, the FRA, PRA etc. They all come to life in this business.
These roles illustrate quite how much lawyers need to understand within a business to be good non-execs – how to get operational systems right, and how to evidence proper controls and checks across all departments of the business on a day to day basis. Being in tune as to how changes in personnel can affect the business is also critical, as well as how they have to integrate group policies dictated from China that may not fit squarely with the business at all.
Miranda’s third role is with the Cambodian children’s charity Starfish. Although the economic situation in Cambodia is improving, 40% still earn less than $2 a day. The charity picks up kids from the slums who have no education.
- They run catch-up programmes until state school will take them.
- They provide them with extra curricula lessons to help them get better jobs, including English lessons, IT skills and soft skills as most of these children have no adults who have ever had a job to help them.
- They also help with vocational training.
- They also operate a large football outreach programme, involving about 3500 kids receiving weekly coaching, 40% of whom are girls
The role came about knowing someone on the board. Miranda felt that the organisation was small enough to feel like a family but had a board with trustees with lots of different skills. Having teamed up with a large Hong Kong school – they are large enough to be able to make a real difference.
So, in conclusion, each role is satisfying in different ways.
Her Linked-In profile has been important in making connections. A new role with Aviva has emerged this way on their With Profits committee. Previous clients are a good source and people who know you in different industries.