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GC Spotlight: Darren Foo, VP, Assistant General Counsel, FIS Legal.

On our GC Spotlight this month is Darren Foo, VP, Assistant General Counsel at FIS, a global Fintech company. He sheds some light on his role at a Fortune 300 company and his priorities for the foreseeable future. He also shares how NewLaw companies, like KorumLegal, can be used by a legal department. Let's get into it! 

1. Hi Darren! Tell us a little about your role at work and what excites you outside of work.

My role at work is VP, Assistant General Counsel for FIS, a Fortune 300 company headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. We are a leading provider of technology solutions for merchants, banks and capital markets firms globally. My team supports our Merchant Solutions business, otherwise known as Worldpay from FIS, which provides payment processing solutions for merchants. Our gateway and acquiring services are trusted by millions of businesses worldwide, from start-ups to some of the world’s most popular ecommerce brands.

Outside of work, my wife, Sarah, and I are raising our twin boys here in Hong Kong so they certainly keep us on our toes! I have always been active in sports, having represented New Zealand in underwater hockey and handball, so my personal time revolves around team sports – rugby, touch rugby and most recently, field hockey.

2. What have been your biggest challenges during the pandemic?

The pandemic has had devastating impacts on millions around the world. Initially, there was a lot of fear, anxiety and uncertainty given so many aspects of our lives were disrupted and there was so much we could not control. One of our biggest challenges has been navigating the ups and downs of this pandemic around the APAC region, with different jurisdictions tackling this with different rules and regulations for quarantines, isolations or even vaccinations. FIS’ Workspace Next initiative was created to align our global strategies – and working with our colleagues to designate as Hub, Club or Roam profiles – this really has helped our teams to return to offices where they can. It has also helped our company recognise that the global workforce is now ready for a more flexible, hybrid model of working (albeit we do need strategies to find work-life balance and improve mental health!).  On a more personal level, having two professional parents working from home has not been easy with two primary school-aged twins doing online schooling!

3. What are your key priorities for the year?

FIS acquired Worldpay in 2019 and it was only recently that I moved across to manage a legal team supporting the Merchant Solutions line of business. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to build and manage my team of dedicated and talented lawyers across Asia Pacific. There has been a steep learning curve upskilling my knowledge in the payments space, particularly from a regulatory and technical perspective, as well as the knowledge of my team, so it continues to be a key priority for me this year to ensure that we are well equipped and resourced sufficiently to manage the legal workflows.

With travel restrictions loosening in the region, it will also be a priority to meet and reconnect with colleagues in the various offices in APAC. It was great to travel to Singapore earlier this month to meet my direct reports in person for this first time since they started!   Technology has allowed us to work remotely and work well online but it is still so important (and so human!) to meet face-to-face.

4. What do you think about the use of LegalTech, data analytics and process optimisation to improve your legal department's value (e.g. data relating to contracts, risk, tracking workflows, performance metrics, costs)?

 Absolutely and positively essential in this modern age! For us at FIS, 2022 is the “Year of the Client” and across the entire enterprise, we are focused on driving client-centric efforts. Our legal department is a part of this high-performance culture initiative, and we use tech tools to help drive efficiencies and effectiveness, be it in our contracting process, through contact automation or other processes. Key metrics that we are measuring include client contracting time, number of contracts generated via self-service and number of contracts completed without legal department’s assistance.

5. What trends do you expect to see in the legal services industry in the next 5 years?

Workflow automation has been, and will continue to be, a trend in legal services. There are great tools out there to reduce manual work and repetitive tasks (the lower hanging fruit) and assist record keeping. There is also growing recognition that automated tasks can increase efficiencies whilst reducing expenses. In turn, we can then focus on higher priority tasks and issues that add more value to a business.  

6. Where do you see NewLaw/ALSP fitting in the matrix of your legal department?

I’d like to see ALSP become less “alternative”! I am keen to partner more regularly with firms like KorumLegal to help support enterprise or regional projects, to address shortages during busier times or when we may not have the right expertise within our team – it just makes commercial sense. Our vendor resource management and HR teams are amazing in managing our talent pools whilst keeping our company secure, and we have been looking at ways to better incorporate NewLaw/ALSP into the fold.