Marilyn Coelho graduated in law from GR Kare College of Law, Goa, in 2010. She then went on to pursue her Masters from Symbiosis International University, Pune, in international and business law. She is currently compliance manager at Legasis Services Pvt. Ltd., where her role entails research on laws applicable to various industries like automobile, IT, pharmaceutical, telecommunications etc.; establish relationships with foreign law firms to grow the compliance network, trainings on bribery laws like the FCPA, UKBA and PCA, prepare compliance manuals based on the compliance need of the organisation, Implement a compliance solution for any given organisation, identify new business opportunities, and client relationship management.
In this interview we speak to her about:
- Studying in Goa
- Her diverse experience in corporate compliance
- Striking work-life balance
How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi once said. This quote is what inspired me to take up law. I strongly live by this statement, which mind you is not easy to practice at times. Education/Reading + Proper Application + Positive thinking together make a good blend of thoughts and character required to achieve this initiative. I choose to use this blend to help me achieve the goals that I set out, however small they might be, and it works for me.
What inspired you to take up law?
When I first decided that I want to study law, everyone was bit taken back because I loved History and it was only natural for me to do a Major in History. At first, the jokes about lawyers and the questionable morality of the profession made me second guess my decision, but I had a really great support system and that helped me and encouraged my decision.
Being a silent participant in the injustice that takes place all around us, is not something I could live with. Law helped me realize that I am able to conceptualize my ideologies.
Tell us a bit about your time studying law as an undergraduate student at GR Kare College of Law, Goa.
The education system in Goa especially for law was encouraging as we had a lot of very experienced and knowledgeable professors who always motivated us to do better and be better. It also was a lot of fun as the professors has a humorous side to them and had a great way of connecting law with practical examples and personal experiences which made the learning experience enjoyable. We used to have a lot of surprise tests and assignments that we needed to submit and the evaluation criteria was quite tough. This meant that we could not copy from the internet much (Jokes), but this is what helped us in applying our minds and to produce work that was both original and creative. Law assignments are all about case studies and legal provisions, the more case studies you add the better it is, but what we learnt was that it is not just about the number of case studies or legal provisions that you cite, but more focus was given to the quality of the content of assignment.
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein, this message and quality was imbibed in us, for which I am grateful as it thought us that we as lawyers have to work hard to uphold the integrity of the Constitution and stand by what we think and believe to be right.
Have you always been keen on a career in Corporate Compliance?
Corporate compliance is something I stumbled upon on my way to finding out my practise area and I am glad I did as I am able to again conceptualize on my ideologies of justice.
Corruption and greed as you may agree is the root cause of all the injustice that is prevalent in the world. Our economy is booming but our ecosystem is struggling. The question is how and why? My response would be lack of accountability, lack of transparency, lack of governance and lack of compliance.
Compliance not only promotes good governance, but also helps our ecosystem flourish by setting up systems and processes that help prevent corruption and proper utilization of funds.
Law is a very profession with an ocean of practise areas, deciding which practise area you should pick really depends on what your interests are. Say you are passionate about sport; you have the option of looking for internships with lawyers practising sports law or writing about sports law.
When you are not sure about which practise area you pick or which career path you have to follow, just sit down and think. The starting point would be to pick out your areas of interest, prioritize your interest, and find out how best you can achieve commercializing your interest.
From a law student to a lawyer, how will you describe the transition?
In one word, lost. Moving out of law school I felt I had mugged up enough books and gathered sufficient knowledge to help me on my career path as a lawyer, BUT, it wasn’t so. Even though we had a very practical and experienced based education, it just never prepares you for the cut throat competition, the various ways of applying the law and changing enforcement regimes.
Can you tell our readers a little about the work that you do?
The company (Legasis Services Pvt. Ltd.) which I work with has given me plenty of opportunity to diversify and grow. As I said, earlier corporate compliance is something I stumbled upon, Legasis helped me realize the importance of compliance to our society and how organisations can benefit from having robust compliance systems in place to meet their business need.
I had the opportunity of going on a secondment to Jaguar Land Rover for a year and a half to assist them in setting up their Global Compliance Programme. This was a great experience as it took me to the other side of the fence and helped me get a more holistic view of compliance and form an organisations perspective.
Today as a compliance manager I view compliance to be a business enabler and a car that is very much in need of a driver. My role is not restricted to any legal area or any specific industry, which is great as it keeps challenging me and increases the learning curve.
Could you tell us a bit about the training programmes that you conduct for conglomerates in India on topics of fraud, corruption and bribery?
Honestly speaking, this topic is something that I am very passionate about. I look at these training or sensitization sessions as a good deed that I am doing but in a corporate landscape. One would automatically assume that being a conglomerate, all the employees or management would be well aware of their corruption or bribery risks, it is actually quite surprising that this is not the case. There was a gap of knowledge on this topic and we are happy to have been able to identify this gap and lucky to have been given the opportunity to fill this gap.
How do you manage your time between your professional and personal interests?
It is so important to make time to pursue your personal interests. Finding a balance between work and your social life is a great start to a successful and happy career. I love to read and travel, and fortunately I am able to do both.
What advice would you like to give our readers, who are mostly law students and young lawyers?
Be brave and follow your dreams.