Features

Maria Camila Morilla Arriaga – IBM Mexico 

Shaping the future of legal operations 

Maria Camila Morilla is leading a groundbreaking endeavor to revolutionize legal operations at IBM Mexico by strategically integrating innovation and technology. With nearly two decades of dedicated service to IBM, Morilla’s trajectory is a testament to her commitment to embracing change and spearheading initiatives that drive organizational growth and success. 

Maria Camila Morilla Arriaga | Head of Legal Department  |  IBM Mexico 

Maria Camila Morilla Arriaga | Head of Legal Department  |  IBM Mexico

Throughout her tenure, Morilla has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to different roles within the Legal Department, shifting paradigms and, in the last year, harnessing emerging technologies to optimize legal processes. Her deep understanding of IBM’s business objectives and forward-thinking mindset position her as a catalyst for innovation within the organization. 

As the legal landscape continues to evolve in response to technological advancements and regulatory changes, Morilla remains committed to protecting IBM’s interests and compliance with laws while helping IBM grow—and she is also focused on being a gatekeeper, providing sound legal advice while playing an active role in the transformative change. By leveraging the power of innovation and technology, she seeks to enhance operational efficiency, mitigate risks, and unlock new growth opportunities. 

 “I firmly believe that the legal function in the tech sector has to synchronize with the mindset of innovation that guides our sector’s growth. I like to push myself and my team to think outside the box, understand the challenges our business faces, and be creative in our problem-solving. This is what keeps us motivated,” Morilla says. 

Transforming legal processes 

Morilla is spearheading transformative projects aimed at revolutionizing legal operations within the company. Recognizing the vital role of technology and innovation in driving strategic growth, Morilla is leading efforts to implement AI-based solutions that enhance efficiency, streamline processes, and deliver greater value to the business. 

Maria Camila Morilla Arriaga | Head of Legal Department  |  IBM Mexico 

One of the projects Morilla is championing involves implementing a new delivery model for the legal department’s more operative tasks. This initiative seeks to leverage the power of innovation to provide faster, more efficient legal support that aligns with IBM Mexico’s strategic objectives.  

“By embracing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, we are paving the way for a more agile and responsive legal department,” Morilla explains.  

A key component of this project is the integration of IBM’s AI technologies, particularly through IBM’s AI Watson platform. By harnessing AI’s capabilities, Morilla’s team aims to automate routine legal tasks, streamline processes, and respond to inquiries with greater speed and accuracy. This groundbreaking implementation, launched just this year, represents a significant milestone in the department’s journey toward digital transformation. 

In addition to AI integration, Morilla is focused on training the AI system to handle more complex legal issues. Collaborating closely with IBM’s technical team, the legal team is working to fine-tune the system and ensure it provides comprehensive and reliable legal guidance. This refinement process underscores Morilla’s commitment to leveraging technology to deliver best-in-class legal support. 

“My vision extends beyond operational enhancements as we aim to consolidate the legal department’s role as a strategic advisor aligned with the company’s broader transformation efforts,” she says.  

She seeks to position IBM Mexico’s legal team as a trusted partner in driving business success by focusing on more legal-complex matters and staying ahead of regulatory changes and emerging trends. 

Leadership and collaboration 

Morilla leads a cohesive team serving clients and mastering specialized legal domains. In the face of the ever-evolving regulatory landscape, Morilla’s team remains united and adaptable, navigating the intricacies of multiple legal reforms in Mexico over the past two years. Their commitment to agility and responsiveness ensures support for the commercial and sales teams, enabling the achievement of key business objectives. 

At the heart of Morilla’s leadership philosophy lies a deep appreciation for teamwork and collaboration. As an all-woman team, they exemplify solidarity and adaptability, drawing strength from their shared experiences and diverse perspectives. Together, they embody IBM’s values of inclusivity and excellence, fostering an environment where every voice is heard and valued. 

Morilla’s leadership extends beyond mere management; it embodies mentorship and empowerment. She nurtures a continuous learning and growth culture, providing her team with the tools and support they need to thrive in a dynamic and challenging environment. By fostering a sense of belonging and ownership, Morilla cultivates a team of empowered professionals driven to excel and innovate. 

Throughout her career, Morilla has faced various challenges, from adapting to new roles across Latin America to balancing the demands of motherhood with her professional aspirations. Yet, her unwavering dedication to her team and steadfast leadership have enabled her to overcome these obstacles with grace and resilience.  

“In my world, challenges are not roadblocks but opportunities for growth, and I think my commitment to excellence and thinking out-of-the-box inspires the team to reach new heights of success,” Morilla notes. 

Passion for law 

Morilla’s journey into law is rooted in her upbringing and early influences. She was raised in a family where both parents were scientists, and she lived with them in the U.S. and England while they were visiting professors. 

Morilla was drawn to the social sciences, other cultures, and global affairs. However, her grandfather, a judge in the Supreme Court of Colombia, sparked her interest in the legal profession.  

“His commitment to justice left a lasting impression on me and ignited my passion for law and its potential to effect positive change on a global scale,” Morilla says.  

Armed with a law degree from Universidad Panamericana and an LL.M. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Morilla embarked on a career path that blended her interests in justice, human rights, and international relations. Her journey took her through various roles in private practice and eventually led her to serve as an attorney for a maritime company (TMM) to PepsiCo Internacional Mexico—and also a few years as an associate in law firms. Her transition to IBM Mexico 18 years ago marked a significant milestone in her career. 

Despite her professional achievements, Morilla remains grounded in her interests outside of work. She continues to nurture her love for literature, travel, and quality time with her family, finding inspiration and fulfillment in these pursuits. Her multifaceted background has enriched her personal life and equipped her with a unique perspective that she brings to her role at IBM Mexico. 

“This is a great time to rethink the incredibly important role that legal teams play in each company’s success, especially in an evolving technology landscape, where the objectives and the challenges we face are targets that move constantly. I am convinced that diverse, committed, and specialized teams are the answer to these challenges, and I count myself fortunate to have collaborated with one such team at IBM,” Morilla says.  

View this feature in the Vanguard Summer I 2024 Edition here.

Published on: June 12, 2024

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