Interview with Subhash Shete, Assistant General Manager in ‘Legal & Compliance Team’ at Valvoline Inc.

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Mr. Subhash Shete is currently working as an Assistant General Manager in the Legal & Compliance Team at Valvoline Inc. He is a law graduate from Nagpur University. He has experience of working as a legal officer in Jetking and was a senior legal executive in Parle and HUL. 

Libertatem Magazine conducted an interview with Mr. Shete. Below is the excerpt from the conversation.

Akanksha Rao: Until a few years, the law was usually seen as a backup career option. However, times have changed and there are a large number of students who willingly take up law as a career. What motivated you to choose law as a career? Please share your experience.

Mr. Subhash Shete: We Indians believed that “imparting justice” a divine job of “God” or his representative (Now a Judges). We have deep faith in the theory of “Forget & Forgiveness” and therefore every dispute didn’t reach formal court for adjudication and thereby there may not be ample legal work available. The then, the inadequacy of work, as well as money, maybe a reason for considering law as a backup career option and not full time.

Due to the rapid growth of the corporate world all around and increasing complexity of legal & compliances issue, the need for qualified, trained & experienced law professionals increased worldwide. Now corporate companies are hiring law professionals and offering lucrative salary packages and career growth and stability. I believe this is what everybody wants in life and therefore a large number of students are willingly taking up law as a career, which is a highly appreciable and commendable step.

Truly speaking, I was highly active in student politics since my early school days, that time there were open elections of students council and at the age of 10, I had contested my first election for the post of “Class Representative” this student politics helped me to project me as a student leader and slowly I have started advocating for the students and friends and helping them out. I have observed that most of the national & international leaders are from the legal fraternity and I have started thinking to take up a legal profession. In 1993 when I was studying in class 9, my elder brother got admission for the MBBS course, and at that point in time, I have finally decided that after my 12th exam I will join 5 years LLB Course and thereby join the legal profession.

I think getting a law degree and standing in a court is the old traditional formula, corporate legal provides out of box growth opportunities, which always attracts me, even today. I have practiced as an “Advocate” at Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court and subordinate courts. After spending considerable time, I realized that establishing a legal practice is not a one-generation job, it requires at least two generations, and first-generation cannot enjoy the fruits of it. Caste, religion, region, age, family, social group, political affiliation, and networking all this factor is equally important along with subject knowledge and skill. Most important is that the legal profession is highly dominated by few families and groups, who is practicing since the last two/three generations in the field of law and possessing so-called “Face Value”. Therefore, I find it a very slow train which did not help me to achieve my life goals and I decided to go for corporate legal exposure.

Being the son of a businessman, I like to work as a business leader, who 24/7 thinks like an entrepreneur and proactively contributes to the growth of the business of the company. Leadership exposure, independence in work, the supremacy of a decision, the complexity of issues, mobility and last but not least attractive pay package are big motivations for me.

Akanksha Rao: From working independently in Nagpur District & High court, to working as a legal associate and being an assistant general manager of the legal & compliance team at Valvoline, you have achieved a lot in your career. What key skill sets does one require to succeed in one’s career?

Mr. Subhash Shete: As far as key skill sets are concerned; I think the first most important is “Drafting” if the document is carefully drafted it will speak for itself and no separate hearing is required. I think, drafting is a mirror of draftsman and it clearly demonstrates the height and depth of the knowledge and skills of the draftsman. Second is a “Communication skill”, one good communicator can directly reach the hearts to get justice, it is an uncommon skill and it may help you to build a large network also. The third is “Decision making” be brave enough to take a decision in time, because of the fair of failure you hesitate to make a decision but unless you make a decision, implement those decisions you will not be able to teste the final success of your own decision. Take a judicious decision, stand by it, and prove it is correct. “Learn technology” whole world is using technology tools and it is a modern way of working.

Everyone must be competent to work using tech-tools and co-op with the modern world. “Advertise yourself” always carry your visiting cards, being a legal professional this an only paper you can freely share with others to advertise your profession at large. Keep sharing your legal success stories, articles, analysis, research papers, speeches, etc. “Be a gentleman” remember and firmly believe that truth will always prevail, be truthful with yourself, work, client, and everyone. Be humble, keep learning like a student. Ready for failures and prepare for cusses.

Akanksha Rao: As mentioned earlier, you have achieved a lot in your career. However, there might have been times when you might have faced setbacks. What kind of setbacks does one have to face in the legal field and how to grow despite such setbacks?

Mr. Subhash Shete: Legal filed is full of setbacks and I think the most common is “loss of work” which eventually is a loss of earning opportunity. In private practice level of trust between client and advocate is under serious doubt and every now and then the client is thinking to change their Advocate to get 100 % assured success in the matter. Therefore, nowadays, without any valid reason, anytime the client may withdraw your Vakalat and you may lose a matter/work/fees. Nowadays even clients are more qualified than Advocates and considering it Advocate should try to increase more & more transparency and provide the correct guidance. Be candid and golden words like “Don’t worry, I will manage” will not always work and avoid using it. Incorporate job, situation is not different, I think the most common is “loss of job”. Tenure of your service is depending on the fate of critical matters handled by you and the irony is that you are not at all responsible for the result but still you are always subject to the punishment. Here “no work no money” is a law and “No life without money” is the rule. In this world, everyone is hired for the best quality services and in case of failure or default, you will be fired. Keep your resume most updated on all job websites. Try to maintain good personal connections with the professionals working in the field of Recruitment/HR as well as the area of your interest and expertise. Nothings come free and the same applies to the job also, in need opt for a paid membership to get better job opportunities. Try to attend job interviews, it will help to evaluate your position in the job market. Having multiple job offers is a matter of pride/luck.

Akanksha Rao: Recently, states like UP have made significant changes in labor laws and finally have struck it down. If all labor laws are removed, most employment will effectively turn informal and bring down the wage rate sharply which would make exploitation of laborers very easy. What is your take on this issue? Please share your opinion.

Mr. Subhash Shete: We generally call such laws as a Labour Welfare Legislations which clearly indicated that welfare is an intent of the legislation and any attempt to twist those laws will be compromising with the welfare of labor and any such attempt by the government is unconstitutional and void ab-initio. On one hand, we are working hard to create a welfare state and on the other hand, we are twisting the laws and allowing the employers to exploit the employees. Employees are also having their fundamental right and it is the duty of the state to protect it, any such attempt to compromise with the labor welfare cannot stand in the court of law.

Akanksha Rao: You have a lot of experience in the legal field. You have been a legal associate in Mindcrest, a legal officer in Jetking Infotrain Limited, the senior legal executive in Parle and HUL, etc. What advice would you like to give to a law graduate who is seeking to work with law firms/ corporate? How do you suggest to him/her to present his/her resume to be a suitable candidate for such firm/corporate?

Mr. Subhash Shete: I think there are huge opportunities in firms/corporate and one should seriously think to take it up as a career. I would like to suggest starting efforts to identify good company, sector, product, service, etc. e.g. companies like Walmart, Unilever, Parle, etc. sector like Food, Automobile, Baking, Tax, etc., from the very beginning of the legal study. Try to find out which area of law such as litigation, contract management, IPR, Compliances, FCPA, Merger & Acquisitions, would be having long-term prospects and start slowly developing required legal skills in it. Keep updating your self of the decided subject, keep sharing updates, research papers on the same on LinkedIn, Blog, etc. platforms it will provide you larger visibility. A corporate job is my first choice but until that time one can try for law firm also, I have observed the law firm candidates are highly preferred by corporate companies for in-house legal jobs.

Keep attending legal summits, seminars, workshops try to slowly connect with legal leaders and seek their reference for internship & job. Be updated and active on the job site, initially, it may be a little frustrating but remember this path is not so painful ahead. Many times interns are absorbed in regular employment, but you have to demonstrate your legal acumen and spark to do differently. Always keep in mind that, initially engagement is important money will follow soon.

Seek professional advice on how to build a resume, it is better to hit the market with a perfect resume. The job opportunity is depending on the material mentioned in resume so work on the quality of material and not on the format of the resume. A requirement of every job is different and therefore avoid using one single fixed resume for all requirements, considering the job/role requirement, keep reviewing the resume.

Akanksha Rao: You have worked with corporate-like HUL and Parle as well as legal services providing firms like Mindcrest. So, you have tried your hand in both areas. What activities do you suggest law students indulge in to secure a position in good firms/corporate?

Mr. Subhash Shete: A lot of activities I would like to suggest law students indulge in to secure a position in good firms/corporate such as Think out of the box, try to do something different, then only you will get success. Don’t limit yourself in law only, for your law is a journey and not the destination. Inculcate the habit of reading, keep reading not only about the law but also literature, history, science, sociology, economics, mythology Ved, Puran, etc. Don’t know when which knowledge will be required and therefore always keep reading and updating your personal knowledge bank. Start expressing your views, opinions, thoughts by way of research articles, analysis, blogs, social media, etc. Let the whole world know what your analysis of the issue is. Learn the new tech-tools and gadgets and try hard to find out affordable solutions for the client, here any small idea makes you big.


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