How to facilitate a sector switch – part two

August 12, 2022

How to facilitate a sector switch with Patrizia Carrozza, General Counsel, Valentino

Changing industry sectors, particularly at the senior level, is often perceived as being extremely difficult due to the scarcity of opportunities and the sheer number of highly suitable senior lawyers. However, it is possible if you are tenacious and tap into your network. Our team of in-house consultants had the opportunity to speak to five senior lawyers from across the world who have successfully facilitated a sector switch.

In part two of this series, we speak to Patrizia Carrozza, General Counsel at Valentino, as she discusses her move from the Manufacturing sector to the Retail sector.

“Moving sector is not “just a change”, 
it’s a challenge… If you don’t have solid
technical skills, a change of industry
can be a risky move.”

​Briefly describe your career history.
I started my career in 1997 at Shell Italia (oil, gas and chemicals, at the time), then in 2000 I joined SAES Getters an Italian listed company heading the legal function at a group level, working in b2b, in technology and advance materials. In 2010 I joined Philips, which was at the time combining domestic appliances, lighting and medical devices, where I spent five intense wonderful years. In 2016 I decided to join SAES Getters legal department. In May of 2021 I joined Valentino one of the market leaders in fashion and luxury.

How did you facilitate a sector transition?
I was keen to try something different! I needed to unlock and exploit some capabilities I felt I had and were not being used at best. I needed to challenge myself in a new organization, a new industry, taker on a new adventure. I was fortunate to interview for a company that was keen to explore candidates coming from a different industry as they were willing to broaden up their horizons in terms of the legal advice they could receive from their General Counsel. As a result, the focus was on managerial and soft skills more than industry related experience. Having a solid legal experience on my back, I did not see the change of industry as an impossible challenge and my skills as being a good listener, calm, balanced and reassuring helped me succeed in taking on this new role. I don’t like staying at the balcony, I prefer the dance floor.

How have you found the change and what challenges have you experienced?
The pace at Valentino, as opposed to my previous experiences, is totally different. The fashion industry is incredibly fast moving: this is the main challenge. There are a lot of issues to tackle, quickly, with new projects to follow: corporate, commercial, operations, style and communication, litigation, IP, compliance. I am lucky to have a great team that welcomed me on board and that guided me through the peculiarities of the fashion industry and at the same time accepted to see things through a fresh pair of eyes, providing a new insight and possibly new solutions.

What advice do you have for any lawyers looking to move sectors?
Moving sector is not “just a change”, it’s a challenge. Your legal and interpersonal skills need to be sharp: don’t make the change if you don’t have a solid general knowledge of contracts and corporate matters, because you have no time to study as you need to adjust to a whole new system. If you don’t have solid technical skills, a change of industry can be a risky move. Make the move if you are a good listener, curious, flexible, not afraid of rough times and be able to have a clear view and understanding of the issues. Be persistent!

Next article is with Lisa Maxwell, General Counsel at FE fundinfo, who discusses her move from Media to the Tech/Financial Services sector. To continue reading click here.

This article appears in our global in-house market report 2022 – click the link to download.

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