HEAD LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE
TATA REALTY AND INFRASTRUCTURE LTD AND TATA HOUSING DEVELOPMENT CO LTD, MUMBAI
YEARS IN LEGAL FIELD: 18 YRS.
- Featured by the Indian Corporate Counsel Association in their book titled “India’s Finest In-House Counsels” published in 2016.
- Honored as “Woman Leader in a Male Dominated Industry 2019”.
- Acknowledged as one of “Asia’s Top 25 In-House Counsels” by the Asian Legal Business.
- Featured as top in-house legal teams by Legal 500 UK: GC Powerlist: India (2017 and 2019)
- Honored as “Top 25 General Counsels in India” in 2018 by the ICCA in London.
- Featured in the featured in the book “Legal Luminaries” published by the ICCA and the book “ Constellations” The Shining stars in the Legal Fraternity” in 2019.
- Finalist for “Compliance in-house Team of the Year” at the Legal Era Indian Legal Awards 2019-20
- Featured in the Economic Times in their feature “Young Leaders –Women who go above and beyond to distinguish themselves professionally deserve accolades”
Lawsutram (LS): Why did you choose law as a career?
Parveen Mahtani (PM): I had originally studied textile designing. However, my father had business related litigation and I was meeting with lawyers when I was around 17 years old. I realized the importance of understanding the law and legal procedures. It made me realise that every action that we take has a legal requirement/compliance and consequence to the same, whether it is a contract being entered into, buying a house, terms and conditions in making a financial investment etc.
I also realized that one needed a career in which there was financial independence and self-respect. Although from a Muslim background, my father raised me to be independent and taught me that “A father should be the last man that a girl is dependent on”. This made me aspire to excel in the field of law, although the same is male dominated.
LS: A brief about your work and what you do?
PM: I am presently Head Legal and Compliance for Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd and Tata Housing Development Co Ltd. I manage the legal and compliance of the projects in India and overseas. The companies have almost 40 projects in most states in India. I advise the companies on the legal risks and provide a mitigation plan. I manage a team of around 15 lawyers and handle the acquisitions, due diligence, transaction structuring, litigation and contracts in the companies.
As part of the role, I am part of the Investment Committee of the company where I advise on the legal issues in the project investment decisions of the company. I also advise the Board and company on the legal risks to the company along with a mitigation plan.
LS: Any special challenges you faced during initial years?
PM: Being a petite woman does subject you to being stereotyped than a male counterpart. In the initial years, there was a perception that I may not be an aggressive negotiator in a transaction or a loud orator in a litigation. There is substantial amount of effort and work required to prove your capabilities.
Thereafter, once I got married and had two children, there was a misconception about commitment to work. In India, the perception is that a working women in a senior position is either divorced or single.
LS: How do you balance Professional & Private life?
PM: I maintain strict working hours so that I am home for the family to spend time in the evening. Dinner times with the family are a time for bonding and discussions on our respective events of the day. During work hours, I maximize the productivity with no long lunch or tea breaks and tend to multi-task activities.
LS: Out of the busy schedule, how much time do you take out for yourself?
PM: It is important to compartmentalize the days to avoid a burnout or an eventual drop out from the profession. One must also have personal time out to recuperate and de-stress from. Being an avid reader, I tend to unwind by reading, playing the piano or taking walks.
LS: How do you manage Work-Stress?
PM: It is important to compartmentalise the day. I have grown to be patient and calm and tend not to personalise the stress at work. I maintain strict working hours and make it a point to try and be home in the evenings with the children and for dinner. I read before I sleep.
LS: How do you prepare yourself before any tough / complicated / high – profile case / matter?
PM: The key to handle any matter well is to read and read again and again. You must know your facts and law thoroughly. I also make several notes on the key issues, main points of arguments etc.
LS: Your normal day will be like?
PM: I am an early riser and like to read in the morning. I also start my day early at work. I mostly maintain strict working hours and spend time with the family in the evenings.
LS: Any misconceptions about the Indian legal industry?
PM: The litigation proceedings are time consuming in India. However, the amendments in the Arbitration Act have facilitated speedy resolution.
LS: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next THREE – FIVE years?
PM: My goal in the next couple of years is to contribute towards education for children. I also have special interest in supporting children with special needs.
LS: How do you differentiate yourself with your competition?
PM: I have been blessed with an excellent memory. This has helped me tremendously in voluminous transaction documents. I am also qualified in art and therefore am able to simplify data and present data, business issues, title flow etc in a graphic manner. This does create an ease for non-lawyers in understanding the issues without having to read pages of documents.
LS: Best piece of advice you have ever received in your legal career
PM: The devil lies in the detail.
LS: Any advice for young lawyers or students
PM: Prepare and over-prepare. There is no substitute for hard work. Show respect even in tough negotiations.
SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR LAWSUTRAM?
Lawsutram is a good initiative to connect legal professionals so that the collective knowledge across sectors can be leveraged.