Features

Commvault – Danielle Sheer 

Trusting her team 

Commvault | Chief Legal and Trust Officer | Danielle Sheer 

Commvault | Chief Legal and Trust Officer | Danielle Sheer

I recently spoke to Vanguard about my favorite mistake and how I’ve learned from it throughout my career. That story starts with a clipping from the July 25, 2011, edition of Newsweek magazine that I keep tacked up next to my computer monitor.  

The piece’s headline is “Marissa Mayer on the day she ‘broke’ the Internet.” Over the years, that piece has become pure inspiration to me—and so many others. If Marissa, the former CEO of Yahoo!, can break Google and own it, I can certainly accept and learn from my mistakes.  

My favorite mistakes all center around a theme: Underestimating a person, a project or a purpose. 

PERSON

About 13 years ago, I underestimated a young woman named Megan Cavanaugh. I met Meg as she was putting herself through law school at night in Massachusetts. She was born and raised in Worcester and had paid her own way through college and now law school, and from my memory of her resume, she had worked every job imaginable since high school.  

I interviewed her for an internship at Carbonite (back then, a newly public company), and I knew without a doubt that we had lots of training to offer a law school intern but zero budget to hire a first-year lawyer. At the end of the interview, I decided I would offer Meg the internship, and I would be completely honest and tell her there would be no full-time job offer to come. Meg graciously accepted the internship. 

Commvault | Chief Legal and Trust Officer | Danielle Sheer 

At first, Meg didn’t even have a desk, so she made one by laying a hard piece of cardboard between two cubicles. Hey… we were a tech startup! Without being asked, she set her sights on learning as much as she could about the product we sold. She test-drove our solution and tinkered with it until she understood it. That inspired her to make suggestions to help close commercial deals. She learned what finance needed and respected their guidance, and she socialized and celebrated wins with the sales team.  

Within a year, our volume of commercial activity exploded, so Meg partnered with IT, and together they built a home-grown contracts management solution to help cross-functional teams communicate in real time. Meg quickly built trust with the movers and shakers in IT, sales, and finance—and she got them all to buy into her new process. By the time she reached law school graduation, the business demanded we hire Meg full-time.  

There has been a lot of history since that pivotal moment when I declared this would only ever be an internship for Meg. It has been more than 13 years now, and Meg has grown from intern to my deputy general counsel at Commvault. Through it all, there has been one absolute constant: She is trustworthy and kind, and her success is rooted in enabling the success of others.  

PROJECT

When I joined Commvault, one-third of the organization lived and worked in India. We have a robust immigration program where employees can win a lottery to live, work and train in the U.S. for a period of time and then return to their home country to continue with us. It is a popular program, but it was exorbitantly expensive in legal fees to process immigration paperwork. Imagine the legal bills when employees in Bangalore have to connect with lawyers in New York City, the coordination challenges of time zones, and the amount of paperwork to be processed. The cost to run this program, from a legal perspective, was crippling.   

With a vision but not yet a plan, I knew the end of the story first: we would no longer work with immigration outside counsel. It was too expensive and the process for our employees communicating in a 10-12 hour time-zone change was frustrating them. I phoned a friend who founded a startup out of Stanford called Formally, which was building a proprietary platform to demystify the U.S. immigration process for businesses. She believed her tool and a dedicated in-house team would dramatically reduce outside counsel legal expenses. Next, I phoned one of my leaders in India, Reshma Raja, and asked her to take responsibility for the new “In-House Immigration Program,” leveraging this new legal tech tool. Finally, I asked her to go to the in-house management in a week. 

I did not underestimate Reshma’s ability to build it but underestimated the project’s scope. Cutover did not happen in a week; it took a few months. Reshma had to assess and organize all the current matters in place, the variety of law firms assisting, the new platform’s capability, and put a plan in place to take all current and future work in-house, which included hiring a brand-new team in India. She then needed to explain to me patiently why it could not happen in a week, which took leadership and confidence. 

Commvault | Chief Legal and Trust Officer | Danielle Sheer 

Reshma is the consummate action-oriented leader. She and her team pulled off a total transition to in-house immigration management in a few months. We saved 99 percent in outside counsel fees, offering a tremendous expense reduction for the company. What made this a success is that I had a leader I trusted, who I knew shared my vision and understood my desire to act with a sense of urgency. Today, the program continues to be a huge success.  

“A huge thanks to the team for the lightning-fast visa amendment and extension process—completed in just 20 days; the quickest in my 10-year U.S. immigration journey,” says one of our engineers.  

We cut a significant amount of cost, which was my initial intent, and we also made the process for our employees a simple and delightful experience.  

PURPOSE

I enjoy making lists, and I enjoy crossing things off lists. I enjoy moving things along and getting stuff done. Sometimes, I enjoy getting stuff done so much that I forget to look up and remember that the work has a greater purpose.  

Underestimating the purpose of the work can show up in unintended places, for example, when managing a team. My head of compliance, Leah Flynne, reminds me of this.  

Commvault has a global compliance team that tracks every privacy, cybersecurity and AI regulation where Commvault does business and cross-references these requirements to manage a compliance playbook for our company. It is complicated reading, application, and analysis and can get tedious. We can get so lost in the details and the work, the analysis to be done, and the thesis to create that we can bypass a critical input into this entire program. The crucial input is people, their motivation and inspiration to do this work and why it is important and relevant today.  

To be truly successful in building a compliance program, you have to enable a compliance culture. What do I mean by that? The tech industry has been living in an era of “ship, then fix,” but with an influx of regulations around secure software development and cybersecurity, company leaders must now be actively involved in cybersecurity risk management efforts.  

Commvault | Chief Legal and Trust Officer | Danielle Sheer 

Megan Cavanaugh, Reshma Raja, and Leah Flynne

To truly mitigate risks, all executives and board directors, even those without a technical background, must understand the tech and its development process. Just because a director or a member of management isn’t a trained engineer or developer does not give them a pass from understanding what the product is, what risks are inherent in how it’s built, and what harm can come from using it. You must know your business. Whether that’s making ice cream, building planes, or developing software. 

Businesses and governments are constantly facing ransomware and cybersecurity attacks, and when those events occur, companies must navigate a web of hundreds of different regulatory obligations worldwide. These regulations aim to minimize the impact of these attacks and resulting data loss, identify theft, and destroyed critical systems that form the foundation of our communities.  

Companies like BreachRx, an intelligent incident management and response platform that we partner closely with, enhance our ability to adapt quickly to new regulatory requirements. BreachRx empowers us with targeted regulatory guidance for key stakeholders through every step of the process so we can stay proactive in our cybersecurity management program and try harder to meet the moment these events occur. 

With this myriad of global details and rules, compliance work is critically important to each of our lives, not merely a “check the box” exercise. That means we all need to lift our heads up from the details of work, remember why we’re doing it and engage in cross-functional coordination across the entire organization. We are proud of our team striving to contribute to a safer and more resilient digital world.  

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring IV 2024 Edition here.

Published on: May 30, 2024

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

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.
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.
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.
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

Spring IV 2024

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.