“Tech law is not just about compliance; it’s about being an enabler in the success story, bridging legal gaps and propelling growth.” – Karthik Ramakrishna, Director-Legal at WebEngage

This interview has been published by Namrata Singh and The SuperLawyer Team

Can you take us through the decision that inspired you to pursue Law, and were there specific experiences during your college years that solidified your choice? Additionally, could you share some insights into the challenges and learning experiences you faced after graduating and entering the professional world?

I come from a family of lawyers. My maternal grandfather transitioned from being an advocate to an actor, my maternal aunt served as a district judge, and my mother currently practices as an advocate at the Madras High Court. Witnessing their successful professional journeys inspired me to proactively pursue a career in law.

Upon entering college, my conviction deepened as I realized that a legal career is not merely a job but a contribution to every aspect of the economy and decision-making on a broader scale. After graduation, the corporate world presented a significantly broader spectrum of challenges compared to my college education. The requirements were practical, and the expected results were focused on solutions. The corporate arena demands legal professionals to be integral to the success story, acting as the missing piece of the puzzle and more of an enabler than merely identifying legal gaps.

As a newcomer to the corporate world, I found myself needing to unlearn certain aspects of my college education to become a business enabler. This involves a shift from a focus on theoretical legal concepts to practical application, spanning areas such as contracts, negotiations, and risk mitigations.

Your journey in the legal field has been diverse, from handling technology law to medical devices and compliance. Can you share a pivotal moment or case that significantly shaped your career and approach to legal challenges?

Initially, my entry into this different vertical wasn’t a meticulously planned approach; rather, it stemmed from the pressing need to proactively comprehend numerous unknowns. The turning point occurred when the legacy company where I served as an in-house counsel decided to venture into the medical device division. In a global competition, the company achieved a significant milestone, further propelling its growth.

As we endeavoured to commercialize the medical devices, I found myself navigating through various legal and regulatory compliances, encountering escalating complexities ranging from licences to white labelling and obtaining necessary approvals from regulatory bodies. This pivotal experience crystallized the realization that commitment and resilience are pivotal exponential factors in shaping a successful legal career.

Given your expertise in Data Privacy Laws, could you share some insights into the evolving landscape of data protection and the challenges tech companies face in ensuring compliance, especially in a rapidly changing digital environment?

As the economy and services extend beyond borders, the same is true for the transcending nature of personal data. While data privacy laws within specific territories may appear intact, the implementation of jurisdictional laws and allied regulations poses a considerable challenge for mid-size companies. These organizations are required to allocate significant capital expenditure and manage increased operational costs while ensuring the seamless flow of cash within the company.

Regardless of size, companies engaged in handling data find themselves compelled to establish dedicated personnel or teams to meet the ever-growing demands of compliance. The imperative is to devise and operate within a common framework that aligns with data privacy laws, turning compliance into a strategic undertaking that necessitates synergies across various aspects of the business.

Your role often involves interpreting and providing guidance on various regulations. How do you stay updated on the ever-changing regulatory landscape, and what advice would you give to legal professionals aiming to navigate such complexities?

As a practice, I consistently recommend engaging in brainstorming sessions and actively seeking to comprehend legal and regulatory developments beyond the confines of my expertise. This approach serves as a valuable complement to mental modelling, allowing me to view problems or obstacles from a contrarian perspective. While staying updated on a need-to-know basis is an inherent aspect of a legal professional’s career, attempting to understand issues outside our comfort zone brings a renewed energy.

Breaking down complex problems into simpler steps and approaching them with a pragmatic mindset becomes a more achievable task when one actively explores challenges beyond their immediate area of expertise. This proactive stance not only fosters a deeper understanding of the legal landscape but also enhances problem-solving capabilities within a broader and more dynamic context.

Having worked as a Company Secretary, you’ve been deeply involved in complex acquisitions and cross-border entity structuring. Could you share an experience where your legal acumen played a crucial role in the success of such transactions?

I hold a special appreciation for a particular transaction where my role proved pivotal in the successful spin-off of two USA incorporated entities (Single Member LLC – S Sub-chapter Corporation). The key to this achievement lay in the careful drafting of an agreement, ensuring that the transfer of ownership of the subsidiary company was structured as a tax-free transfer.

This endeavour demanded more than just legal acumen; it required perseverance and the cultivation of a strong rapport, given the involvement of various stakeholders. The compounding effect of collaborative thought processes among stakeholders ultimately yielded a viable solution for the transaction. This experience highlighted the significance of effective communication, relationship-building, and strategic thinking in the legal profession, showcasing the broader skill set required beyond legal expertise alone.

In your role at WebEngage, how do you foster a legal and compliance culture within the organization, ensuring that teams across different functions understand and adhere to the legal framework?

Compared to my experiences with other companies, the legal and compliance culture at WebEngage is distinctive due to the global nature of its services, which span across various verticals. To navigate this diverse landscape, the Legal team at WebEngage adopts a two-pronged approach: process and provisioning.

Provisioning is viewed as an action taken with consensus on urgency and importance, serving as the foundation and building blocks for the overarching framework. It is a dynamic process that evolves with time and experience. Lessons learned, feedback, results, and glitches from provisioning activities become key factors shaping the continuous evolution of the Process, which is the legal and compliance framework underpinning all models and mechanisms.

Crucially, the Process is not bound by time and is designed to be ever evolving. The team at WebEngage acknowledges the importance of embracing change and learning from experiences. An innovative aspect of their approach is the implementation of Janusian thinking—a form of brainstorming that explores the anti-thesis from different perspectives, both within and across borders. This unique strategy aims to make the risk management process adaptable, breaking away from the notion that “one size fits all” and ensuring a nuanced, context-sensitive approach to legal and compliance matters.

Being a Certified Corporate Social Responsibility Professional, could you share your perspective on the role of legal professionals in driving corporate social responsibility initiatives, especially in the tech sector?

Regardless of the profession, my firm belief is that companies have a responsibility to contribute back to society which is complementing and supplementing various aspects of companies within our economy. As a legal professional, the awareness of societal concerns becomes an integral part of my thought process, influencing every action and reaction. Encouraging Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives from companies is something I highly endorse to.

The rationale behind this endorsement is that, next to governments, companies wield a substantial driving force in society. They possess the capacity for collective efforts and planned execution, operating with transparent processes when engaging in CSR initiatives. Notably, the technology sector in India, employing millions of individuals, stands out as a major player in this regard. The sector’s vast reach and influence make it a potent force for implementing CSR initiatives on a larger scale, contributing to the betterment of society as a whole.

Beyond your professional achievements, what are some personal interests or hobbies that you find yourself drawn to outside the legal realm? How do these activities contribute to your overall well-being and mindset?

As a personal interest, I have authored a book “JIVA SHAVA SHIVA” which has nothing to do with legal but exploring more into the unknown realm and self-enquiry in a spiritual sense. Apart from that I have trained in a few Martial Arts like WING CHUN, SILAMBAM, MUAY CHAIYYA, an ancient form of MUAY BORAN. I have synthesized this Martial Arts understanding into a new strategy called NITAU.

For college students aspiring to achieve professional success in the legal field, what advice would you give regarding the type of education, internships, or specific experiences that can contribute to their growth and set them on a path to excel in the legal profession?

My advice to freshers is to not specialize at the beginning of their careers. The idea is to cultivate a well-rounded foundation that allows for flexibility and adaptability in various legal contexts. Emphasizing the cultivation of a personalized approach to problem-solving suggests that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in the legal field. This approach encourages individuals to develop their unique methods of addressing challenges, fostering creativity and adaptability.

Acknowledging that unique experiences and skills acquired throughout one’s career will shape the trajectory. The idea is that each experience contributes to the development of an individual’s expertise and guides them toward a suitable career path. Stressing the importance of approaching work with full commitment underscores the idea that success in the legal profession requires more than just technical proficiency.

Legal professionals are encouraged to act as enablers and solution providers, actively contributing to the success and positive outcomes of their clients or organizations. The holistic approach advocated combines legal expertise with the ability to facilitate and offer solutions. Legal professionals are seen not only as interpreters of the law but as integral contributors to the success story, acting as enablers in various aspects of decision-making. In summary, my advice is to promote a dynamic and adaptable mindset, encouraging legal professionals to embrace a variety of experiences, continually refine their skills, and approach their work with dedication and a solutions-oriented mindset. This holistic approach is essential for success and impact in the ever-evolving legal landscape.

You’ve also obtained certifications and completed higher education in fields such as Company Secretaryship, PGDMM, and PGDIB. In your experience, how have these additional qualifications enhanced your skill set and contributed to your professional growth? And, more broadly, what advice would you offer to students considering complementary certifications or higher education to broaden their career opportunities in the legal field?

Gaining knowledge is one aspect, but the real value lies in understanding how and where to apply it. My experience with additional qualifications enhanced my ability to comprehend the business language while representing the company underscores the practical importance of such efforts.

These qualifications may or may not always directly help, but the process of skill upgrading is not just about anticipation; it’s about broadening the circle of competency. This, in turn, transforms a legal professional from being merely an advisor to a multifaceted individual—acting as a strategist, enabler, and administrator.

My advice on pursuing complementary certifications should be with a realistic view on implementation and application that shall stand valuable. It aligns with the idea that skills should not be acquired in isolation but with a clear understanding of their practical utility in specific scenarios, ultimately making the legal professional more versatile and effective in their role.

Get in touch with Karthik Ramakrishna-

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top