Features

Pedro J. Lopez-Baldrich – SharkNinja

Blending business and law for global expansion

Consumers—those of us needing to keep a clean house and functional, simplified kitchen—may associate the SharkNinja brand with everyday chores made easier, everything from robotics and cordless vacuums to preparing food with devices like blenders and multi-cooker appliances.

Pedro J. Lopez-Baldrich, the company’s chief legal officer and executive vice president, doesn’t merely see the utility in these items—he uses them. (The Advanced Navigation Robotic Vacuum and Air Fry Oven are two of his favorites, he says.) But when he enters the SharkNinja headquarters in Needham, Massachusetts, just west of Boston, Lopez-Baldrich feels something more than just a sense of innovation.

Pedro J. Lopez-Baldrich – SharkNinja

Pedro J. Lopez-Baldrich | Chief Legal Officer, Executive Vice President | SharkNinja

“When you walk in you feel this energy that anything is possible,” says Lopez-Baldrich. “For a public, multi-billion-dollar company, it has a very startup, entrepreneurial feel that employees have embraced because of the constant creativity and innovation allowed in the space.”

Lopez-Baldrich wants his team of 20 to contribute directly to that creative business culture. After helping lead the company’s IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2019 (as part of JS Global Lifestyle Co. Ltd.), Lopez-Baldrich has a newfound focus: ensuring SharkNinja continues to pursue product innovation and expand into new markets. Its 2020 acquisition of Qfeeltech—a startup specializing in artificial intelligence and robotics—has only added to that momentum.

Driving the business—incognito

With the company experiencing unprecedented growth, Lopez-Baldrich says the pressure is on the legal department to keep pace by not only understanding the business outcomes, but driving them, albeit not in the usual way.  In fact, if he does his job right, Lopez-Baldrich says an executive can walk into a conference room with 10 people and not be able to tell who’s the attorney.

“My role is to ensure my team and all the teams are not separating themselves from the business, but actually understanding the business outcomes and the competitive landscape to be able to drive the business forward,” he says.

Pedro J. Lopez-Baldrich – SharkNinja

To achieve this, company attorneys work directly with business leaders to create and execute strategic initiatives, whether it’s working directly with the engineering team on product development, partnering with logistics to find supply chain optimization, or developing internal initiatives to drive diversity and inclusion.

“The process is iterative: My team sees itself as a business partner, understanding and owning the underlying objectives, and their legal skills are just another arrow in their quiver,” Lopez-Baldrich says. “We achieve this by encouraging everyone to operate outside their perceived ‘swim lanes.’ It’s a mindset we’ve adopted throughout the company.”

For example, it’s not uncommon to see commercial attorneys working on sustainability projects or IP specialists chipping in on marketing efforts. More broadly, the company’s legal team often leads cross-functional meetings (known as “hack” meetings) on everything from new products to market expansion strategies—topics ostensibly unrelated to legal.

It’s that unique cross-functional approach that Lopez-Baldrich credits for helping drive innovation.

“It’s at the core to how we operate,” he says. “The team approaches these meetings with a unique mindset: ‘progress over perfection’. The team sets goals, and every time we hit a goal, we light up a new beacon and keep going. That’s our ethos, to continuously make progress and move things forward.”

Growing the right way

Like the legal department, the business has put growth and innovation front and center since its founding 26 years ago. What began as a small, family-owned company, has since become a globally recognized brand, with products that include everything from cordless vacuums and blenders to indoor grills, air fryers and cookware.

Pedro J. Lopez-Baldrich – SharkNinja

Still, despite the company’s growth, its focus on creating high-quality, durable products hasn’t wavered. According to Lopez-Baldrich, SharkNinja has been awarded the prestigious JD Power Award for highest customer satisfaction for its upright vacuums, and has received three Red Dot Awards for Product Design, acknowledging “the exceptional design” of the Ninja Hot & Cold Brewed System, Shark ION W1 Cordless Handheld Vacuum and Ninja Smart Screen Blender DUO with FreshVac Technology.

“To me, these awards speak to the commitment we have to our customers,” Lopez-Baldrich says. “Our company designs innovative products that help consumers in their daily lives. The more efficient they can be around the house, the more time they have to do the things they love. It’s humbling to know our team can play a part in that.”

Indeed, it’s not the first time he has thrived at the nexus of business and law.

Not raised in a vacuum

He credits a trio of roles for helping him develop his business acumen: A four year-stint at Burton Snowboards during the early 2000s, his time as general counsel and vice president of operations at outdoor apparel icon Patagonia, and serving as interim CEO and general counsel for a publicly traded clean-tech company.

Lopez-Baldrich also deeply values his role on the board of directors of Tech Goes Home, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing digital inequalities.

During his seven years with Patagonia, the company more than doubled its net income. As an executive officer and secretary for the company, Lopez-Baldrich oversaw the gamut of operations, from legal and IT to HR and distribution. Perhaps most significantly, he helped pave the way for Patagonia’s international expansion, overseeing an upgrade of the company’s enterprise resource planning system and scaling the organization across myriad functions.

Pedro J. Lopez-Baldrich – SharkNinja

As a member of the leadership team, he also contributed to some of Patagonia’s most innovative initiatives, from The Footprint Chronicles (which provided greater transparency to the company’s supply chain) to Common Thread, aimed at “closing the loop” on apparel manufacturing by encouraging customers to return their used clothing to Patagonia, which then sends the garments back to the factory to be made into new products.

“Being exposed to so many areas of the business, I really became an active participant in organizational strategies and development—and not just in the legal function,” says Lopez-Baldrich. “My time at Patagonia was invaluable to my leadership experience and re-shaped how I viewed business and how the legal profession can be of service.”

Now he’s taking what he’s learned to help another forward-thinking company create its own legacy of innovation—from the legal department all the way to your kitchen.

“My job is to have people stand on my shoulders and to learn from my experiences,” Lopez-Baldrich says. “A company is only as good as its employees, and at SharkNinja our focus is to build our company by building our people, which helps us remain a relentless leader in the industry.”

Published on: April 14, 2021

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