NINA MACPHERSON IS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF LEGAL officer for Ericsson, a global telecom company based in Stockholm. Macpherson came to the corporation after working in different fields of law. With an LL.M. from Stockholm University, she was an in-house lawyer at a shipping company, dealing with marine law, and was an attorney with a Swedish law firm for several years, focusing on commercial law.
In 1996, she went to work for Ericsson with a specialization in corporate governance and antitrust. She has led the company’s global legal affairs division since 2011.
Ericsson provides high-performing solutions for networks, information technology and the cloud, and media. The company also provides infrastructure, services and software to the telecom industry and other sectors. It is present in almost all markets, with customers in more than 180 countries. Ericsson has approximately 110,000 employees.
Legal Team: She has high expectations for her legal team, but is also supportive of team members. “My goal is to become the ‘best legal in-house team’: a goal that continuously makes us strive to become better business partners, more efficient as a global team, drawing on each other’s competencies and experiences, [be] better informal and formal leaders, etc.,” Macpherson says. There are approximately 200 people on the company’s legal team. Some 140 are lawyers and the rest are paralegals or assistants. Many are generalists, focusing on business support, and a few are specialists, such as on intellectual property rights [IPR], litigation, compliance, privacy or corporate governance. “Ericsson is doing business in all parts of the world and so is my team,” she says. Macpherson typically works from the headquarters in Stockholm, though she says she travels “a lot to most parts of the world.”
The legal team handles most day-to-day business support in-house, as well as most IPR and corporate governance matters and other areas where they have strong internal expertise. Beyond the legal team, the company’s division on IPR and patent licensing, made up of about 240 employees, also reports to Macpherson.
Typical Day: Given her many roles at Ericsson, there is not a typical day for her. “I am secretary to the board of directors, member of the executive team and head of group function legal affairs, including IPR and patent licensing,” she says. “I am also a member of a number of steering committees and similar boards of the group, such as crisis management, mergers and acquisitions, etc. This means that my days are varied, and the content of a day can be quite unpredictable.”
“The work for Ericsson is always focused on the cutting edge of law,” she added when asked about what she most enjoys about her work at the company. “I enjoy that and the fact that I am surrounded by a fantastic team of lawyers as well as a fantastic team of innovators and other great professionals making a difference to the world every day.”
“Apart from the normal legal world of an in-house lawyer, I am dedicated to a particular effort of the company, namely contributing to combating child sexual abuse on the internet and otherwise,” she says. “This is an extremely important initiative to contribute to the protection [of] the most vulnerable in our society: the children.”
Personal: Macpherson, 59, says she is “married to a wonderful Scot” for more than 30 years. “We have two girls and they have one baby boy each,” she says.
Last Book Read: The last book she read was “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” by Yuval Harari. “I read a lot, mainly fiction, often proposed by a member of a book club we created more than 10 years back,” she says.
What Keeps Her Up at Night: There are a few work-related things that keep her up some nights. “Things I need to do, things I might have done less well, mistakes, praise and support I must remember to give, etc.,” she said.
Priorities: Among the priorities as a general counsel she lists are: corporate governance, compliance, the tasks of being a leader and a manager and being supportive.
Role of General Counsel: “I do strongly believe that a general counsel must have a wide understanding of the business and a multifaceted experience that can help bridge gaps and bring different views to the table,” she says.