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The legal work behind successful operations in an evolving market – An interview with Michael McGuinty, Chief Legal Officer

Interview with Michael McGuinty, Chief Legal Officer

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The legal teams at Technip Energies are a critical enabler to successful operations. Although their scope of work is not always in the spotlight, Michael McGuinty, Chief Legal Officer explains how his teams operate at the heart of the business and address complex topics brought by an evolving industry. 

Q: Can you give a brief outline of your teams and what they’re responsible for?

Michael McGuinty (MM):  My responsibilities are for the legal department, the compliance group, and our corporate and project insurance teams. We have 145 people in the global legal, compliance and insurance organization, which serves both our business and corporate needs. The majority is made up of lawyers and contract managers that support operations across business units, product lines, and projects. 

Our corporate legal group is headquartered in Paris. It is responsible for everything from managing our 133 group companies, to securities and reporting, intellectual property, governance and providing legal support to Strategy, Tax, IT and our other corporate functions.  

Our compliance department is based in six different countries and representing as many nationalities. It is tasked with managing the company’s Compliance Program which includes preparing and overseeing compliance policies, procedures and training.

They’re also actively involved in due diligence for third party intermediaries and business partners. Some members in the business units have a dual role, providing operational legal support as well as serving as the regional compliance lawyer. 

In insurance, we have people based in Paris who are responsible for our global programs, while a larger projects insurance team based in Rome is charged with ensuring we have insurance coverage in place on a project-by-project basis. 

I am also proud to say that I lead a very diverse group, with 23 nationalities based in 25 locations and almost 50 percent women.

Q: You mentioned that many of your team members work closely with operations. Can you explain the role they play?

MM: Many of our people work out of the limelight day-in day-out, making a significant contribution to the organization. On the operations side our lawyers and contract managers are embedded in business units and project teams, working hand-in-hand with their finance counterparts and other managers. They are experienced and the Company relies on them to ensure that legal and business risks in all of our contracts are properly addressed and in line with our contracting standards and insurance policies.

Overall, their job is to work closely with the project teams to identify, avoid or mitigate legal risk for the Company. They also bring their expertise to our contracts with suppliers and service providers who help us execute projects. 

Q: The company operates in different jurisdictions across the world where there are distinctive demands. For example, in some places there is greater pressure in terms of workers’ rights. What does that mean for you and your teams?

MM:  Indeed, as a global company we face legal and compliance challenges which vary from country to country. Making the right decisions every time wherever we work is not always easy in today’s complex and evolving global business environment. We have a person in our Compliance group who looks after human rights-related issues and helps our people to understand and implement procedures that reflect best-in-class practice.

However, I would say that the legal and compliance challenges we face in the countries where we operate are not owned by one function. Everyone at Technip Energies is responsible for complying and making sure our operations are carried out in line with our policies.

Q: Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) is an essential part of Technip Energies’ strategy – what are the implications for your teams?

MM: As far as ESG is concerned we're often asked to work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and that touches on areas of soft law. For example, not all countries have specific regulations to address ESG issues, and we know we’ll be subject to different expectations and demands depending on where we are. So, we always make sure that our beliefs, ethics and our Code of Business Conduct act as our compass to do the right thing and be the responsible international corporate citizen that we are.  

When it comes to human rights, we are actively engaged with international bodies to foster dignity and equality across our global operations. For instance, we are signatories of the United Nations Global Compact and have a growing role in Building Responsibly, an organization engaged in promoting the human rights and welfare of workers in construction and engineering.

Through Building Responsibly, we work with peer companies to create and adopt common standards and engage with workers, clients, governments, civil society and international organizations to enhance workers’ rights. 

Our legal teams apply their expertise and creativity to tackle the ever evolving scenario brought by the energy transition and broader ESG requirements. In fact, we are involved in the design of Technip Energies’ ESG roadmap as it is a key driver to sustain value creation for the long-term. 

Q: How will the legal teams keep playing a key role as Technip Energies advances in the energy transition journey?

MM: Our industry involves complex projects, especially as we expand into new markets, new technologies and engage with new partners. The energy transition is evolving rapidly and, as I see it, the implications for the legal teams are three-fold:

  • One, we must become aware of existing and new regulations that apply to new domains the company is getting involved in.
  • Two, with respect to contractual risks, we need to make sure that we adopt contract structures, terms and risk allocations, where liabilities are attributed to different parties, that are tailored to the new businesses and business models that we will be entering into.
  • And three, we must make sure that both our corporate and our project insurance coverage contemplates risks the company faces in the new business areas we are venturing into. 

More generally, in their day-to-day responsibilities the legal, compliance and insurance teams are well placed to assist the Company achieve its energy transition goals while continuing to conduct  its business in a respectful, sustainable and ethical manner in all of the markets we operate in.

Q: Now that you have been in your role for 6 months, what do you like about the job and how do you see the future?

MM: I see my job much the same way I see the company- it’s dynamic, fast paced and with potential to make an impact. That I lead a service function and service is about people, this is also what I like about my job. We have a talented group of legal, contracts, compliance and insurance professionals that have the skills, experience and commitment needed to help drive Technip Energies’ future growth.

As we head into 2022, I look forward to working with the leaders of my group to create opportunities for our teams to develop and further maximize their contributions.