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Finalists: Daniel Abela, International SOS – MENA; Hamdan Almheiri, Tawazun Economic Council; Gordon Finlayson, Zee Entertainment International (Highly Commended); Mark Hultum, Deutsche Bank; Giles Menezes, Yahlive; David Nicholson, Johnson Controls Middle East & Africa.

Microsoft Gulf’s Joanne Fischlin was named General Counsel of the Year (Small Team) in recognition of her efforts to transform how the wider business views and interacts with the Gulf region’s legal department.

That has meant the three-person team is no longer just seen as a legal function for transactional work but also as trusted business advisers and creative thinkers who can provide commercial support across the organisation.

Fischlin did this by securing her team a seat in every strategic account planning meeting and going out to meet Microsoft’s customers, giving the team a broader view of the organisation and its clients’ business needs and challenges.

Having only been in the role for just over a year, Fischlin’s impact on the department has been rapid, working on initiatives such as educating the Middle East legal and compliance community on cloud, AI, blockchain and other new technologies, as well as engaging with regulators. She has also been instrumental in pushing Microsoft’s diversity and inclusion agenda in the region.

“Her leadership in driving external engagements with key decision and policymakers have directly contributed to expanding the market for Microsoft and supporting the region’s drive towards digital transformation,” said Sayed Hashish, general manager at Microsoft Gulf.


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