Continuing our series of interviews with alumni of the Advanced Leadership Program, we spoke with Senior Legal Counsel at Gorrissen Federspiel, Tina Herbing, about how she found her proficiency and passion for business development during the ALP class of 2018. She also discusses her approach to a leadership path on her own terms, and the importance of working within a company that supports career development.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career journey, job titles etc, before and after joining the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP) in 2018?
I joined Gorrissen Federspiel, one of the leading law-firms in Denmark, immediately after graduating from University of Copenhagen in 2003. The job itself has been an interesting journey, giving me the opportunity to work in many different areas with the best and brightest colleagues and to manage both younger colleagues and large projects.
Gorrissen Federspiel has an international focus and strongly encourages their lawyers to live and work abroad. I did that after qualifying as an attorney-at-law, where I spent 1½ years in London. It was an amazing time and very important for my future career as this was where I started to build my international network and also got a chance to work as an associate in Slaughter and May, a magic circle law-firm.
In 2013, I was promoted to senior legal counsel/salaried partner. I chose this career path by not applying to become an equity partner, but instead being offered a different leadership career, where I participate in the managing of the group I am working in, have my own areas of responsibility e.g. training of our associates, share knowledge and build up a network and close relations with our external partners and clients. When making the decision about which career path to pursue, I needed to consider carefully what was my driver. For me, building my own business was not my driver but I did have a hard time putting my finger on what it was – other than working as a specialized attorney-at-law, which I very much enjoyed then and now.
However, joining the Advanced Leadership Program last year made me realise what drives me – that is business development and working on the more business-related areas of managing a big company – such as Gorrissen Federspiel with 450 employees. It means that I am now involved in the business development of the company together with the top-management. The skills I acquired during the program, and also the advice and coaching received as part of the mentoring part of the program, have been essential in achieving this. Hence, my job is much different and much more interesting now than just one year ago. I see this as a new part of my career plan materialising.
What motivates you to pursue a leadership career, and how does your company enable this?
It motivates me to train and educate my younger colleagues. Being a lawyer is so much more than law and passing on these skills is one of the key drivers. Helping people grow and develop motivates me.
Also, Gorrissen Federspiel is a great place to work. There is a strong team spirit and feeling of working in the same direction. Being able to help maintain and develop the work culture is also a main driver.
Gorrissen Federspiel has been extremely supportive, encouraging and giving me the opportunity to pursue this.
What is one thing that you took away as a key learning from the 5 modules?
All 5 modules were interesting in their own way. I was literally sitting at the edge of the chair during all modules. However, if I am to bring out one module it must be the “Organisation of Tomorrow” taught by Rory McDonald. Learning about disruption, innovative business models, business culture and not least the customers’ (or clients’, in my case) “job to be done” really changed the way I look at things in my professional life. It is driving the approach to the business development projects that I am working on at Gorrissen Federspiel at the moment.
Also, I have really learned a lot from the other cool women in the program and I am honoured to be part of this network.
In what ways do you use the skills that you’ve learned in the ALP in your work and how has the program helped you become a better leader?
It made me realise what motivates me and gave me the tools to pursue the goals that motivates me. Currently, I am working on a business development project – without the ALP I would not have had the tools to pursue this project.
It forced me to think through my career choices carefully. In the end, it gave me the courage to jump away from law, which had been my safe haven, to also include new areas.
What is next for you in your career, since finishing the ALP, and what are your long-term career aspirations?
Working on this new career path is next for me, developing my business and leadership skills. My long-term career aspirations remain the same, however. Enjoying every day at work, smiling when entering and exiting the office and making sure that I remain a whole person.
What has been your biggest leadership challenge since finishing the ALP and how did you deal with it?
I believe that the biggest leadership challenge – and the next skill I need to develop – is to get people to actually do what I would like them to do. It is difficult to change things, which have been working for so many years.
What one thing could encourage more women to pursue a career in leadership?
Knowing that it is possible to pursue a career and be ambitious without sacrificing your entire personal life – be it family, hobbies, friends or just the need to do something else than work.
Name: Tina Herbing
Education: Master of laws, University of Copenhagen, LL.M. King’s College London
Company: Gorrissen Federspiel
Title: Senior Legal Counsel
Civil Status: Married
Children: Ella (9 years) and Anton (5 years)
Fun fact: I spent many years as a kid and teenager as a scout, which means that I can start a bonfire, tie strong knots and put up a tent, but it also gave me the first exposure to leadership.