Angela Shirrell Head – Minitab
Minitab is the market leader in providing software and services that enable organizations to make better data-driven decisions that drive business excellence. With a growing demand for its proprietary Solutions AnalyticsTM portfolio, Minitab is investing in innovation and its infrastructure.
To support its growth, Minitab appointed Angela Shirrell Head as general counsel in October 2022. A veteran of nearly two decades of in-house law, she brought business experience and legal expertise as well as an ability to simplify processes for Minitab and its customers.
“As organizations grow, complexities arise,” she says. “For example, as solutions increase and customer needs evolve, contracts become longer and even redundant. I’ve seen a variety of contracts in my career, especially in my last role (Allscripts Healthcare). More often than not, there’s a way to simplify and make your organization’s life easier and, more importantly, conducting business better and faster with your customers.”
With continuous improvement in mind, Head began streamlining Minitab’s contracting process. She’s combining end-user license agreements and end-user subscription agreements so customers don’t have to “jump through hoops.” In the first quarter of 2024, she says a new software subscription agreement will be rolled out with all of Minitab’s offerings. This will allow customers to quickly deploy Minitab’s newest and improved solutions and deliver value to their businesses without being slowed down by paperwork.
“We have a significant growth opportunity and I want to help facilitate our success,” Head tells Vanguard from the company’s Chicago office. “Minitab may be a 50-year-old company, but there’s so much white space for us to take the business to even greater heights.”
Minitab’s growth has accelerated over the past five years. With a global customer base in nearly every industry and used across different functions, Head has been instrumental in helping Minitab “get closer to its customers to serve them better.”
She played a key role in the opening of a legal entity in the Netherlands and, more importantly, set a blueprint for further international expansion. As general counsel, she must ensure that foreign rules and regulations for such areas as employment, data privacy, export and taxes are satisfied.
As a market leader in analytics, Minitab has been leveraging artificial intelligence for decades. However, with the recent introduction of large language models, AI is now being considered differently, requiring tighter guidelines and policies. According to Head, it’s important to balance enthusiasm with risk regarding new AI capabilities.
“We invented some of the leading machine learning algorithms, so we’re big believers in the potential of AI,” she says. “But we also stand behind the accuracy and quality of our algorithms. How reliable are some of these new models? What legislation might govern their use? Given how industry typically is steps ahead of the regulatory bodies, what provisions must Minitab’s legal department make to cover all bases?”
Data, solutions, possibilities
As an executive team member, Head works with other Minitab leaders on everything from corporate culture to the company’s priorities. While that necessitates a broad understanding of the business and the ability to pivot quickly, Head says she has the mindset to tackle anything and leads fearlessly.
“I’ve been a true generalist throughout my career,” she says. “I’m all about breaking down the business, understanding the products we sell and bringing my legal acumen to the table. In a sense, it’s a simple approach: I ask a lot of questions.”
With a broad array of solutions, Minitab prides itself on creating significant value for its customers. “We tell the world: ‘You have data. We have solutions.’ Imagine the possibilities – we really mean it. I’m amazed every day at the caliber of people working at Minitab and the creative ways we help our customers achieve results.”
It’s no surprise then that creativity is one of Head’s strengths, which she believes has aided her professional success. The 2000 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville graduate majored in communications with a minor in theater and dance.
One who pivots
Graceful and athletic, she’s one to kick up her heels for anything from ballet to jazz to clogging to the more modern moves. She even finds a correlation between pivoting on the dance floor and acting as a legal generalist.
“I saw the law as another place where I could be creative,” Head says. “In-house gave me even more ability to do so. I always believed in-house is where I was meant to be and where I could make the biggest difference for the client—the one client.”
The University of Illinois Chicago School of Law graduate still had to prove herself in private practice. Then through networking, she scored her first in-house role, a 2004-to-2006 stretch with Looking Glass Networks, a Chicago-based telecommunications start-up that proved a better fit for her creative mindset.
Afterward came five more in-house roles in publicly traded and privately held companies that had Head moving among Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina and Colorado, and traveling the globe while aiding the companies’ international operations. More recently, she celebrated her first anniversary at Minitab, overseeing the legal department and pushing the team to new levels.
She knows this is the place she’d like to stay—there’s so much to do, and the company is on the cutting edge of so many game-changing technologies with increasing opportunities to optimize on all shores. The Chicago area also has become home for the Missouri-born Head and her school-age son and daughter. Demanding as the job might be, she always finds time to refresh by dancing, skiing, camping, traveling, running, and just being her creative self.
Minitab values that creativity as essential to its own game plan.
“We are building on our success by following the best ideas,” Head says. “We will continue to build our team to support further growth while ensuring our customers’ success.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Winter I 2024 Edition here.
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