Q&A with Michael Stansby and Virginia Bourke

Where are they now? Virginia Bourke and Michael Stansby

While it's always nice to hear about life after Minters, we love hearing from people who have decided to return – a trend we're seeing across the firm. We caught up with recent return recruits, Virginia Bourke and Michael Stansby.

Virginia Bourke Navigation Show below Hide below

1. When did you work at MinterEllison and what was your role?

I worked at MinterEllison from February 2009 until December 2013. Initially I worked in a part-time knowledge management role in the HR&IR group and that subsequently developed into a business development role with the occasional piece of billable work! At the time I was also building my career as a non-executive director in the not-for-profit health sector so it was an unusual combination of roles, but the roles seemed to complement one another and certainly worked for me. I was responsible for making sure our weekly internal practice group meetings were topical, interesting and well organised and that the work of the group was properly captured in our various knowledge management databases. As my role expanded, I moved into some aspects of strategic planning, client relationship management and business development for the HR&IR group. I delivered and facilitated external and internal presentations on a range of topics including work health and safety, officers’ duty of due diligence, corporate governance, risk management and directors’ duties. I particularly enjoyed working on the training program for graduate lawyers in the group which was known as “Working Class” - I was always envious that I had not had a similar program available to me as an articled clerk in a very small firm!

2. What were some significant matters you worked on during that time?

I inherited some knowledge sharing platforms that were coming to the end of their life, so one of the bigger projects I worked on was establishing and moving the vast knowledge management collection of the HR&IR group onto the (at the time) new Quad shared platform. Working successfully on the first AHPRA national tender is also a project which stays in my mind.

3. How did your time/experience at MinterEllison prepare you for subsequent roles?

I think because I worked on such a range of projects with so many different people it gave me confidence that I could turn my hand to almost anything! Having a broad skill set and confidence about working on things outside your comfort zone is excellent preparation for a General Counsel role. My work with the Practice Group meetings, graduate training and client presentations certainly gave me great insight to how to communicate effectively, to gauge what clients are really interested in and what makes a great presentation - all of these insights have been helpful, particularly in my current consultancy role.

4. What brought you back to MinterEllison?

Two main drivers: the first was the offer of a really interesting and for me, challenging, role as a consultant in the national health team which complemented my board roles, the second driver was the opportunity to work with people I respect and admire. The flexibility of the role was also attractive to me.

5. What are some of the unique qualities about MinterEllison that kept you engaged as an alumni?

It’s always the people that keep you connected! I stayed in contact with many MinterEllison friends and in my General Counsel role I knew that I could pick up the phone to any number of people in a crisis. I particularly enjoyed staying in touch with graduates and research clerks who I had worked closely with – it was great to see them progress inside (and outside) the firm.

6. Was there someone at MinterEllison that shaped your career?

I will always be grateful to Michael Tehan, Partner in the HR&IR group for offering me the initial knowledge management position and recognising my “generalist” skills as being valuable!

Michael also encouraged me in my various board roles and taught me the value of a broad and deep network. It has been a privilege to work with Amanda Watt, Partner and Michelle Power, Partner in my various roles – past and present. Apart from being great friends to me, they are superb lawyers, team builders and just fabulous female role models. Other colleagues and dear friends such as Anthony Loschiavo, Knowledge Manager, and Jane Doolan, Associate Director have always been supportive and generous in sharing their skills, their knowledge of how the firm works (often a mystery to me in my early days) and their excellent judgement based on their very high emotional intelligence!

7. What advice would you give a fellow alumni who might have recently left the firm?

Make a true effort to keep all your MinterEllison professional connections and more importantly, your friendships, alive as these are an invaluable part of your network and you never know where and when opportunity will arise as your career develops.

Michael Stansby Navigation Show below Hide below

1. When did you work at MinterEllison and what was your role?

Whilst it seems like an absolute age ago, I worked at MinterEllison as a mid-level BD advisor in Melbourne between 1999 and 2001.

2. What were some career highlights for you during that time?

The firm was structured quite differently back then and it was rewarding to be part of the evolution of the national BD team under the leadership of Trish Carroll. We moved from a regional team structure to one that operated on a national level. This was a critical and exciting development considering we had offices and clients around the country. It was also the beginning of what is now a strong national CMG offering.

3. Where did you work after leaving MinterEllison and what was your role?

After my time at MinterEllison, I spent seven years working in London at Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith, and then in the US at Reed Smith in BDM roles. When I returned to Australia, I spent another seven years as a senior BD advisor for KPMG Australia. At the time, I was seeking to broaden my professional services experience through a Big 4 role.

4. What brought you back to MinterEllison?

After I left Minters, I kept in touch with the partner group that I worked with (led by David Inglis and David Eterovic). In addition to being very personable and highly motivating, they had always impressed me with their great commercial skills and leading technical skills. Then, upon hearing that Lawrence Owen had joined the firm, I was keen to re-join the firm as I felt that the firm had a market-leading head of BD driving the very best group of partners in the Australian marketplace.

5. What are some of the unique qualities about MinterEllison that kept you engaged as an alumni?

As a result of my earlier experience at MinterEllison, I had developed a very strong sense of loyalty to the partners and the firm. I kept track of movements within the firm, and seeing the rise of partners like Stewart Nankervis was really rewarding for me.

Most significantly though was the level of contact that I maintained with the firm. After I left, I continued to receive well wishes from the partners and CMG team I had worked with – even whilst I lived overseas for many years. I had never had any other past employer invest so much time around keeping in touch with me. It was this unique commitment to keeping in touch – and supporting me throughout my career - that really stood out as a unique quality.

6. Was or is there someone at MinterEllison who had an impact on your career in CMG whilst you were here?

With the arrival of Lawrence Owen as the Head of CMG, I became determined to return back to the firm as I was keen to have the opportunity to work with him and, more importantly, learn from one of the best BD practitioners in the market (which I had picked up on from several PWC partners I knew). My experience to date around Lawrence, and the CMG team/vision he has built, has been absolutely rewarding.

7. What advice would you give a fellow alumni who might have recently left the firm?

Always take the time to keep in touch with the firm and the people you worked with. There are so many great life connections and relationships you can maintain after leaving the firm. Importantly, take pride in the firm's continued progress: with a great brand, offering and group of people, there is a lot to be so proud of at MinterEllison.

Read more from our Alumni Newsletter


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