Features

Natalia Zuluaga Enciso – Ferrero

Cooking up delectable simplicity in the realm of legal matters

Appreciating a piece of chocolate is fairly straightforward: Unwrap, eat and enjoy. Natalia Zuluaga Enciso is attempting to bring this sort of simplicity to all legal matters at Ferrero.

She’s been implementing “visual law,” a concept that goes beyond formatting legal documents nicely and using bright colors to highlight important warranties and indemnification clauses in contracts. While visual law entails using icons and infographics to make legal content more understandable, it mainly means utilizing simple, straightforward language. Zuluaga is hoping to also apply this to other internal documents, such as legal assessments, in the future.

“Using less complex language ensures that a contract owner will be able to assess the main areas of risk associated with entering into an agreement instead of first having to contact the legal team,” she says.

Natalia Zuluaga Enciso | Region General Counsel, South America | Ferrero

Natalia Zuluaga Enciso | Region General Counsel, South America | Ferrero | Photo credit: Wanezza Soares

Given non-legal team members at Ferrero the ability to understand a legal document empowers them, she adds. This saves them and the legal team time, which, in turn, allows Ferrero to grow faster. That’s been one of the main goals for her and her legal team since she became the regional general counsel of South America for the family-run business, and one of the largest chocolate and confectionary companies in the world.

She’s been with the company for nearly a decade, having previously worked as the general counsel for the company’s Latin America Developing Markets arm from January 2014 to February 2022.

“Visual law has become a trend throughout Brazil, and I’m happy that we’ve been able to implement it at Ferrero,” Zuluaga says. “While we cannot always avoid technical language, we try to do so whenever possible.”

Efficiencies empower an effective legal team

To help Ferrero reach its growth goals, between 2022 and 2023, Zuluaga ensures the implementation of the priorities set for the legal team: capabilities, efficiencies and compliance.

Visual law also falls under capabilities, as does hiring people with the proper skill sets. Finding the right talent means not having to increase head count drastically even as the demands on the legal team and other departments increase, Zuluaga says. In fact, she believes her legal team is transitioning towards a focus on management instead of advocacy—becoming a modern, cutting-edge legal team.

“Legal departments are becoming smaller industry-wide even as the business becomes more complex, which is why introducing efficiencies has been a top priority for us,” she says.

To that end, she’s created a stronger legal structure, one that now includes a legal operations approach. Budget management, legal business forums, key performance indicators, e-signature, and contract management are some examples of what she´s also implemented.

“Efficiency goes hand-in-hand with innovation, especially when it comes to training,” Zuluaga says.

An appetite for growth and shared responsibility

Training plays an essential role in Zuluaga’s compliance priority, too.

She says Ferrero’s top management has given the legal team full reign over guarding and raising company-wide awareness about what compliance means and entails. She and her team focus on antibribery and corruption as well as antitrust and data protection when developing and planning compliance training for everyone at the company.

“Everyone is responsible,” she says. “Our job as the legal team is to empower our colleagues, not be the police force in the company.”

Natalia Zuluaga Enciso | Region General Counsel, South America | Ferrero

Photo credit: Wanezza Soares

In addition to annual and monthly training, she and her team constantly look for opportunities to   be self-certified in compliance. According to Zuluaga, this has led to the Swiss multinational SGS giving the Colombia office of Ferrero, a privacy seal certification. This recognizes the company’s best practices and high standards for data protection.

She says this recognition is all the more notable because South America ranks amongst the top five most difficult jurisdictions in the world in which to conduct business. In the region, Ferrero has locations in nine countries, each with complex legal issues, such as high levels of corruption, nutritional labeling regulations and political upheavals.

Certified for future growth

Zuluaga is working with her team to standardize self-certifications as a best practice across the region. They are also hoping to continue standing out as an innovative legal department. In fact, Brazilian Legal techs and Law techs association recognized them for their creativity.

The task is a challenging one, but she says her multi-country experience was one of the reasons Ferrero considered her for her current position. She also came in with years of work on intellectual property and trademarks at specialized, well-recognized law firms in the region. She’d also worked as a lawyer covering industrial property and regulatory issues at Team Foods prior to joining Ferrero.

“That experience became an appetizer for me and really sparked my hunger for working in-house, something I hadn’t done before then,” she says. “Ferrero was the perfect opportunity.”

Zuluaga is currently studying the Ferrero master’s in international management, a customized training program in partnership between Ferrero and SDA Bocconi School of Management.

“The 18-month program us a multifunctional journey, allowing me to acquire a global mindset while keeping a local focus—perfectly fitting my current and future roles” she says.

She says her career progress at the company has been rewarding. She attests that the opportunities there have allowed her to innovate, grow and expand her expertise within the legal function.

“The particular efforts we’ve been focused on over the past five years are coming to fruition,” Zuluaga proudly shares with Vanguard. “I see that the company overall is benefitting from our efforts—and I can’t wait to keep making positive strides here at Ferrero, South America.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring I 2023 Edition here.

Published on: March 13, 2023

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