Tell us about your background as a General Counsel and current career status…

I recently started a position with Playvox as their first in-house General Counsel.  Playvox is a global, cloud-based Quality and Workforce Management solution that transforms customer service allowing companies to simplify the motivation of their agents, provide agile coaching and training, all the while capturing their customers’ feedback. I previously worked with a current Playvox executive at a prior company. She recommended me for this role and we engaged in discussions for well over a year prior to my coming on board due to timing on both sides.

How does your industry help define your role as General Counsel?

As Playvox is a global company with customers in nearly every geographic location, we are processing the personal data of data subjects around the globe. The privacy of our customers’ data and compliance with applicable privacy laws is critical to our business; therefore, it is imperative that we remain abreast of the ever-changing global privacy landscape and adapt accordingly. Our core challenges are those that most global companies face, from HR-related issues, privacy matters, to operating as a global organization in compliance with law.

How do you feel the General Counsel should act as a business partner?

As the first in-house general counsel, it is my role to create a legal department from the ground up that is efficient and scalable across global time zones. Additionally, we are a remote-first workforce based in multiple countries around the world. Playvox has recently acquired two companies based in the UK and Australia, in addition to its existing Colombian subsidiary. I have served as a GC for a company that was acquired, and I have also served in a role where my company was the acquirer.  Integration between the acquirer and the acquired can be challenging from a cultural perspective given operational and geographical challenges.  As legal is embedded in all aspects of the business, we can serve as a critical lead in integration support. If processes and procedures are smoothly integrated, it tremendously assists in fostering the belief of one team.

As indicated, legal supports all aspects of the business, so we are in a unique position to work cross-functionally with all departments. Because of this ability, we can forge internal (as well as external growth) while driving change to foster an inclusive corporate culture.

How do you see the professional growth trajectory as a General Counsel?

I started my career as a civil litigation attorney and legal generalist for over 16 years within my own practice until I transitioned to in-house roles within multiple SaaS organizations.  One of the things I love most about the law is its flexibility to pursue whatever interests you and the ability to leverage your early experience even in vastly different roles.  I substantially pivoted in my career after 16 years and fully expect that there is a version 3.0 sometime in my future, which may or may not be a traditional legal role. I am a firm believer in following your passion, whatever that may be at that time; therefore, I expect that my next role will be more public service-oriented where I will endeavor to make a direct impact upon the lives of others who lack even the most basic human dignities.

What is the best advice you can give for In-House Counsel?

Do not be afraid to reinvent yourself; do not be afraid to follow your passions; do not be afraid… If something new interests you, pursue it, ask for the experience.  Some may perceive pivoting as taking steps back in your career, but ignore the naysayers; it will be challenging, but worth it!  Be humble. Learn as much as you can from others in multiple areas, not just law (however, lawyers love to share their subject matter expertise), and network, network, network, but make sure that your networking is genuine, not contrived. You never know who is watching you that may refer you for your next position. Above all, make time to serve others in some capacity; that is the greatest reward.

About Kristen Shaheen

Kristen is the first in-house General Counsel for Playvox, a privately held, global SaaS company. Prior to Kristen’s tenure with Playvox, she served as the first in-house General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for BenchPrep, a Chicago-based edtech company, and for OpinionLab, Inc., a Voice of Customer Feedback solution based in Chicago and Wilmington, NC, up and through its successful acquisition by Verint Systems Inc. where Kristen remained as their SaaS and Privacy Subject Matter Expert and led integrations of newly acquired companies. Kristen is a Certified Information Privacy Professional for the US and Europe (CIPP/US, CIPP/E) through the IAPP. Kristen lives in Wilmington, NC with her husband, college-aged sons, and a black & white Chihuahua named Oreo.