Lawyer Monthly - Women In Law Awards 2023

55 About Katherine Katherine Ollerhead is General Counsel and Company Secretary for the Canonical group of companies. She heads a global team of lawyers, responsible for legal matters across multiple jurisdictions. Katherine qualified as a solicitor nearly 20 years ago, working in private practice as an IT and outsourcing lawyer, before joining Canonical. Canonical is the company behind the Ubuntu open source operating system. The word Ubuntu means “I am because we are”; it acknowledges that we cannot exist in isolation. I am where I am because of the wonderful women in my life. My mother and aunt, who both forged successful careers in what were then male-dominated professions, inspired me to go into law and develop my career. My female friends and colleagues (former and current), working in countries across the world and in multiple business sectors and professions, continue to provide guidance and support – and also continue to inspire me. My fellow mums encourage me both in my career and as a mum, to my daughter, who now surprises and encourages me every day. During my career, I’ve seen huge progress in bringing about gender equality in the workplace - driven by people of all genders. Within Canonical, we have introduced initiatives to encourage and promote a diverse workforce. I have seen, first hand, the benefits that come from seeking out and listening to the experience of people from different cultures and backgrounds. Diversity in every way, not just gender, results in better outcomes and a more successful business. As a lawyer, working to implement and support Canonical’s commercial business, I work with the business team. We make decisions informed by the law, but not in a legal silo, separate from commercial realities. I am also Company Secretary and responsible for compliance. I seek to ensure there are robust policies and procedures in place, but these only work if they are implemented and understood by everyone. Compliance becomes a matter of working with and alongside the team, rather than acting separately. Technology companies and the legal profession have both made great strides in diversity in recent years. That said, we need to be ever-watchful that this is not just ‘lip service’ and that changes are here to stay. We need to actively challenge our colleagues and ourselves, especially in contexts such as the UK, where diversity in the workforce still has a long way to go. This approach is not always popular, but it is the only way to ensure that changes become embedded in the culture of an organisation. We need to stay alert to issues as and when they appear, to ensure that the positive changes which I have experienced in my career, continue for the next generation. Katherine Ollerhead Contact: General Counsel Canonical “I am where I am because of the wonderful women in my life.” United Kingdom

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