Situated in the heart of the Lagos harbour (in the Apapa Local Government Area), LADOL is an industrial village for multinational companies with high value projects operating in West Africa. The capacity of the area is being developed to act as a blueprint for sustainable industrialisation across the continent.
Alabi’s role as LADOL’s Head of Legal includes acting as an advisor to senior management and the board, maintaining a good working relationship with external counsel, preventing or mitigating any crisis, administering contracts and providing useful services to business units in corporate planning and strategic decision making. She also develops written corporate policies on issues that can reduce LADOL’s liability and sustain its business ethics.
One of her achievements has been to develop a collaborative and streamlined relationship for her team to work with other teams.
“This approach is so effective that, most departments are now well-informed of when to involve the legal team in projects and do so not out of compulsion, but in appreciation of the significance of our input’’.
After obtaining a Master’s in Business Administration (Management Specialization) from the University of Lagos in 2018 (the same institution where she obtained her law degree), Alabi can attest to the application of her learnings in her role at LADOL. In dealing with the “battle” between existing systems and commercial realities, she says she “assesses the business environment from time to time to understand the changing needs, current trends and best practices”. She believes in implementing systems that work. She sets the company’s expectations of her team in terms of deliverables, performance and timelines and monitors all electronically.
In managing varying clients’ interests and multiple stakeholders, Alabi uses business environment scanning tools - such as the SWOT analysis and the Porter’s approach to industry analysis - to proactively anticipate their needs, and come up apt strategies and solutions.
She currently manages a four-person legal team at LADOL and says the company engages external counsel in specific situations.
“This is when we do not have sufficient knowledge or workforce to handle a task internally; when we require a third party’s assessment on an issue and; when there is a requirement to engage external firms.”
To remain valuable in a team and thrive as an in-house lawyer, Alabi advises: “The essentials for a lawyer are important - professionalism, ethics, legal reasoning, contract drafting and negotiation. Strong personal characteristics like judgement and leadership are also required. One must also understand the organisation’s business, in addition to management skills and the ability to manage legal risks at the barest minimum. In-house counsels have to be adaptable to remain valuable, therefore, emerging in-house counsels need not be afraid to be a jack of all trades.”
She says the advice of her parents, mentors and colleagues have enabled her to progress on her journey. They support her work, connecting her to “people and possibilities as well as offering insights and resources at a time of need”.
There’s quite an interesting side to Alabi - her love for languages! She’s currently learning Mandarin at The Confucius Institute at the University of Lagos and “aced” the first level of the Chinese proficiency test. “It feels nice to be doing something that extends my good mood!”
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