What I’ve Learnt: Caroline Churchill

January 3, 2020

Caroline Churchill is a partner at transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, which runs operations from two offices in Newcastle. Specialising in non-contentious commercial, technology and data protection work, her practice involves advising on a wide variety of commercial contracts that include distribution, agency and franchising arrangements, contractual joint ventures and outsourcing agreements. Caroline also has a background in corporate support work, which has included advising on complex cross-border acquisition and disposal work. She is a member of the Society for Computers and Law

The first lesson I learnt was to never expect to get things right the first time. The second was to never underestimate the amount of effort you have to put into things. My father taught me these. He was an entrepreneur in the retail, leisure and real estate industries and I worked with him on a number of his projects from an early age. I learned some valuable lessons early on.

My ethos is not to spend more than you make. I’m quite a cautious person, I like to measure risk, but I’ve always been careful to reinvest for the future and development of the business.

I like to think I am measured in my approach and apply lots of common sense. This has put me in good stead throughout my career. What has developed over the years is realising the importance of the people around you. For me, this means the team, both regionally and nationally.

My clients’ needs are paramount. It is key for me to understand what they need, their business and the risks they face to provide them with an excellent service. But our own people are also very important and we make sure we have an enthusiastic and talented team with the correct skills in the right location at the right time.

My advice for a start-up company is to collaborate. Everyone has a finite limit on time and resources, so collaboration can expose you to new ways of thinking to help develop your business.

The North East is great for collaboration and sharing ideas. People and businesses do talk and want to help others – we do this well as a community.

At Womble Bond Dickinson, we’re advocates of memberships like Dynamo and initiatives like Cyberfest. I’ve spoken at these events and can see first-hand how sharing knowledge and expertise benefits the region.

It’s important to draw from the experience and diversity of others. There may be people who have tried similar ventures, who will share their success stories. We try to connect people where we feel there are mutual interests to develop collaboration.

Working in the technology sector, I can see the benefits of using technology to help run your business efficiently. The advice I would give is to realise the value of the data you hold – what do you collect, and can you monetise it? If it is personal data, make sure you use it in compliance with data protection and privacy law.

It is imperative to build in data protection by design. Failing to get things right at the start can have serious implications as you start to grow.

We want businesses to encourage people in the region to stay and to nurture the talent we have here. The North East has one of the fastest-growing digital and tech sectors in the UK and is making waves with its world-class innovation and global reach. If we can get the region’s success stories to talk about their accomplishments and promote the opportunities, we will hopefully retain and develop our talent, and accelerate the growth of our economy.

Womble Bond Dickinson

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