Igor Andries is the Head of Legal & Regulatory at Orange Moldova.
CEELM: Thank you for speaking with us, Igor. Can you walk us through your career leading you up to your current role?
Igor: In my last year at Moldova State University Law Department, I won a fellowship from the Open Society Institute and continued my studies at the Case Western Reserve Law School in the U.S., where I obtained my LL.M degree in US Legal Studies, focusing on corporate, securities, and commercial law. Upon my return to Moldova, I joined a USAID-sponsored technical assistance project working on the reform of the Moldovan securities markets. In 1997, I obtained my attorney license and continued my career as general practitioner. From 1998 to 2003, I worked at KPMG Moldova, advising international and local clients on business law and taxation matters. Since the end of 2003, I have been Head of Legal & Regulatory Division of Orange Moldova, a subsidiary of the Orange Group, one of the world’s largest operators of mobile and Internet services.
CEELM: What are the most significant changes you’ve seen in Moldova’s legal market over the course of your career?
Igor: Our legal framework has changed a lot over the years. Moldova received a lot of support from the EU, the United States, and international financial organizations in reforming its legal system and institutions in accordance with Western standards. These reforms made the work of a business lawyer more complex and demanding, but at the same time easier thanks to better transparency and improved processes. These changes created a demand for lawyers with a different approach, skills, and knowledge. There is a new generation of talented lawyers acting as in-house counsels or in law firms.
CEELM: Is the Moldovan legal and regulatory system as good as it could be for Orange Moldova? Are there changes you would like to see, or alternatives present in other markets that you would like to see tried in Moldova?
Igor: The current Moldovan legal and regulatory system is generally favorable for business, but not as good as it could be. There are still many problems that need to be addressed by the authorities. Orange understands though that Moldova is a young country which is still in transition. Being one of the major investors in the country, Orange is in constant dialogue with various institutional stakeholders and plays an active role in improving Moldova’s legal and regulatory system using various platforms.
CEELM: Tell us about the legal department at Orange Moldova. How big is it, and how is it structured?
Igor: We are eight lawyers. Each lawyer takes care of a particular area, however there is no strict delimitation and we are happy to help each other when necessary. The lawyers at Orange Moldova are experienced and qualified professionals, with a high work ethic. Each of them works quite autonomously, with little direction and oversight, but can count on colleagues for advice and support. We also have a very close cooperation with our colleagues from business teams.
CEELM: What is your typical day at work like?
Igor: I spend quite a lot of time on operational matters and advocacy. This includes working or guiding my colleagues on more complex issues and performing tasks which set policies or rules. I also try to be proactive and use every opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the legal and regulatory framework that impacts our company.
CEELM: What skills do you think you have that are of most use to you in your job?
Igor: I try to maintain a business approach to my job. A good business lawyer should not simply answer questions on what is the applicable law, but act as if she or he is running the business together with her/his colleagues responsible for business processes. This means that he should be proactive: anticipate issues, help find solutions, evaluate risks, and give clear recommendations. Other important skills are tenacity, perseverance, communication skills, and leadership.
CEELM: What was your biggest success or greatest achievement as a lawyer in terms of particular projects or challenges?
Igor: I am very proud of my contribution to the success of Orange’s business in Moldova and to the shaping and improvement of the Moldovan legal and regulatory system, which has wider effects on the country and its people.
CEELM: What one person would you identify as being most important in mentoring you in your career?
Igor: I have learned from many people I worked with. Still, I am particularly thankful to my bosses – both Managing Partners and CEOs – who have always supported me and helped me grow professionally. Each of them was different and taught me various things: be business-minded, communicate efficiently, take responsibility for solving issues, turn challenges into opportunities, and constantly look for innovation.
CEELM: On the lighter side, what is your favourite book or movie about lawyers or lawyering?
Igor: My favorite movie about lawyers is “A Civil Action”, with John Travolta and Robert Duvall in star roles. It is about a successful and cynical personal injury lawyer from a small law firm who takes on a case involving two big industrial companies thought to be responsible for causing a serious disease to several people through contamination of the town’s water supply, at the risk of bankrupting his firm and career. I saw this movie when I was in law school in the US. I liked the main character very much for his tenacity, loyalty to the client’s cause (“the case is about more than just money”) and sense of humor. I probably wanted to be a little bit like him.
CEELM: What would you like the world to know about Moldova that isn’t that obvious?
Igor: Moldova is a beautiful country, which has many talented and hardworking people. Despite all its problems, it could be a good investment opportunity for those with patience and determination.