Features

Christine Kurek – Activision Blizzard

Creative, corporate and compliant

The Golden State among the most litigious, it might become even more so come the new year when a host of new laws in California go on the books.

Christine Kurek, vice president of legal at Activision Blizzard Inc., a publicly traded interactive entertainment company focusing on video games and esports, will be among those monitoring the effects of the new laws in states like California.

Labor and employment law among her primary areas of concern, Kurek is responsible for compliance with ever-evolving rules and regulations while finding creative means of supporting an ever-growing business model.

“When you’re in-house, one of your jobs is to understand the law through the lens of your company and the industry,” she tells Vanguard this past autumn from Activision Blizzard headquarters in Santa Monica. “In a vacuum, the law may appear to be one thing, but in actuality it can be something very different. To me that’s the interesting thing about being in-house: working with the business side and coming up with a way to create a better work environment for all.”

Creativity in the works

Creative and corporate aren’t typically two words that go together, but for Kurek they may be the best description of her responsibilities with the over $40 billion company that she’s served since early 2010.

Activision Blizzard’s hallmark, after all, is creativity, with the company named one of the 50 best workplaces for innovators by Fast Company magazine. Under its umbrella are over 9,000 workers worldwide, with notable business expansions a result of the 2016 acquisitions of King Digital Entertainment and Major League Gaming Corp.

Kurek has partnered with other in-house lawyers to facilitate successful integrations, tailoring solutions that fit the culture of each entity and advising on employment, benefits and immigration.

“It’s not just about the new laws, it’s also about keeping abreast of trends,” she says. “It’s partnering with the human resources and business teams so as things change, the processes are adapted more seamlessly. Collegiality and partnerships have to be very important across a company.”

And in today’s world, the same goes for technology, very appealing to Kurek, who finds it helpful in supporting the company’s diversity and inclusion teams. For example, the company has successfully launched employee networks, with major events planned for Pride 2020, including a float in the Los Angeles parade. Events such as these, as well as bringing in innovative speakers to foster inclusiveness and spark creativity, are at the heart of what excites Kurek about working at Activision Blizzard.

“Technology can help connect employees and employers,” Kurek says. “It can help people to overcome unconscious biases and give them a better understanding of laws and cultures. We use it in such areas as online training against harassment and discrimination.”

She means business

Being a former entrepreneur gives Kurek more across-the-board awareness of what’s at stake in a company. In 2006, a decade after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, she left her position as Yahoo! Inc.’s first in-house employment lawyer to launch Buxom Inc., her own brand of women’s sleepwear, in Los Angeles.

“Only the timing wasn’t that great,” she says with a chuckle. “How was I to know the economy would crash a couple years later?”

Though it did, Kurek seems to have no regrets, emphasizing the importance of any lawyer being prudently proactive in taking on new challenges. Besides, as she’d come to discover, she had missed the intellectual challenge of the law and finds the collegiality of practicing as part of an in-house team immensely fulfilling. As an entrepreneur she had first-hand experience in so many business aspects that would make her attractive for another in-house role, which is where Kurek feels most at home.

“The nature of in-house is so different from being at a firm,” she says. “You are part of the business team and get to work on projects that move the company across the line.”

Kurek speaks fondly of the three years she spent early in her career as a litigation associate with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. “I can’t say enough good things about how they helped develop me into a well-rounded lawyer,” she says.

A five-and-a-half year stretch at Yahoo! Inc., would follow, with Kurek establishing the employment law function in the U.S. and fostering partnerships among the legal, HR and business units, much as she’s since done at Activision Blizzard for the U.S. and Canada.

Soon to celebrate her 10th anniversary at Activision Blizzard, Kurek is pleased to have been here for the long term. A thrilling ride it’s been, she says, the 40-year-old company retaining the culture of a startup and being at the forefront of esports, which has opened up a whole new box of legal and business issues—and made a fan out of Kurek.

“Overwatch is so beautiful,” she says of the team-based multiplayer action game and the focus of the professional esports Overwatch League. “I’m a big fan of our games and respect the creativity and hard work that our teams put into them.”

Published on: December 8, 2019

regions:

categories: ,

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.

Testimonials

The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.

LATEST EDITION

Winter IV 2021

READ NOW

GET VANGUARD IN YOUR INBOX.

  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.