Adina Calfa-Dudoiu is Legal Director at Rosia Montana Gold Corporation S.A., the gold mining project of Canada’s Gabriel Resources in Romania. Before joining RMCG in February 2017, she spent three years as Legal Director of UPC Romania, and another ten in private practice with CMS.
CEELM: Before joining RMCG you worked in the telecom industry. What led you to the mining industry and how did you adapt to it?
Adina: In my career of over 15 years I have advised clients from various industry sectors, work that carried me through a wide range of topics and in which I have interacted with a multitude of top industry leaders. Despite the wide range of industries, the common point that weighed significantly in my approach was finding business-oriented tailored solutions to problems with significant impact on the business, while at the same time not exposing the company.
Indeed, I was active in the Telecom, Media and Technology sector for over ten years (both in private practice and in-house), three and a half years of which was spent as Legal Director of UPC Romania (part of Liberty Global). However, my private practice experience is wide, as I was involved to a large extent in the chemical and energy sectors, where I have been active since the early years of my career, both on the transactional and regulatory sides. Accordingly, the switch from telecom to mining was not an unexpected change for me. It was the uniqueness of the project that played a decisive role in the choice I made two years ago.
CEELM: What specific challenges does the mining industry present for in-house counsel?
Adina: I think that the mining industry worldwide has always been challenging. It has always been the subject of various types of disputes, since the early years of civilization to our days, as it has the power to significantly contribute to the well-being and economic growth of a country, as a whole, directly, by contributing significantly to both local and central governmental budgets, but also indirectly, by attracting and stimulating investment across the economic spectrum of the country’s ports, transport, industrial, and IT sectors, among others.
It is also the reason, in my view, why ensuring significant investment in a strong mining industry should be key for each country. One instrument in reaching this goal is a proper legal framework, including an investment framework and mining policies. Through the years, the legal framework has changed and developed, as nowadays we are all more conscious of the importance of sustainable projects. Players in this field put great effort into ensuring that, when mining facilities are developed, they are designed to the highest standards, in order to comply with the most stringent environmental laws in the EU. There are instances when local regulations are more rigorous than EU rules (and vice-versa), and this is when the in-house counsel, working with company experts and consultants, ensures that the company stays fully compliant and adopts the more stringent standard.
CEELM: What are the biggest challenges that in-house lawyers face in Romania these days?
Adina: In Romania, generally, we are facing two type of legislative challenges, as while some areas change frequently, such as legislative initiatives in the fiscal domain, others are hampered by old and outdated laws or which are lacking implementation norms that would clarify or ensure proper implementation of that particular legislative enactment.
I think keeping pace with technological changes and their impacts on business is our – in-house lawyers’ – main challenge. During my career, and particularly in my role as legal director, I have frequently found myself in a delicate position where I had to fit a very bright, innovative business idea into an outdated legal box, in such a way not to alter the added value brought by the idea, but at the same time to ensure full legal compliance. At the end of the day you need to think outside of the box while keeping the big picture in mind, and be innovative while working with old tools. Legal consultancy is, in fact, an art.
CEELM: What is your typical day at work like?
Adina: A typical day at work involves many discussions and internal meetings with business partners and external meetings with various authorities and representatives of the business or decision-making environment, but also planning, strategy, and organization, as well as a lot of study and administrative work. All of these are, however, often re-tailored according to the company’s priorities at the time.
As we deal frequently with complex legal aspects, this requires solid knowledge, extensive experience, and excellent collaboration with specialists in various practice areas.
CEELM: What element of moving in-house was most surprising to you?
Adina: I always wanted to be part of the entire decision-making process but also to effectively contribute to a company’s business growth. So, after ten years of private practice I decided to make this step forward – and my extended expertise in various regulated sectors provided me with a wide range of options. My first and natural choice was, of course, the Telecom sector.
What I love the most about being on the in-house side is the fast-paced rhythm and complexity I deal with on a day-to-day basis, as this fills me with energy. It is also the fact that that business is an integral part of what I do. I think that as in-house counsel, the closeness to business is what gives you the opportunity to effectively contribute to a company’s success, to create and leave something good behind.
CEELM: What are the most important features that you take into consideration in choosing external counsel to work with?
Adina: Currently, the trend to which more and more companies are aligning to is the cost-effective solution, therefore the financial aspect is important in choosing the company’s consultants in legal matters. However, depending on the issues raised by one project or another, the defining criteria according to which a particular law firm is chosen remains related to its attorneys’ performance, specialization, reputation, and resources.
For most projects the outsourcing decision belongs to the local legal department. However, there are projects that may have an impact on the activity of other companies in the group or the group in general, in which case the choosing of the law firm is made together with the group leader at the level of the group and usually involves choosing a worldwide highly renowned law firm.
CEELM: What kind of personal skills do you believe you have that are most useful in helping you lead the legal team?
Adina: One of the most important skills, in my opinion, is to know how to build both teams and trust. Once the relationship with all the people in a company is strong, the legal counsel becomes a true business partner and essential piece in ensuring the success of projects.
Legal counsel should also be great communicators and project managers, as they play a complex role in the life of a company, serving at the same time as consultants for the management team but also as a connection between it and the rest of the departments.
They need to be good strategists, able to see the big picture and to provide innovative-but-simple and legally compliant solutions to complex issues in the context of high-speed technological progress overlapping growing legislative and political instability in the country. It is of utmost importance that legal counsels know how to ensure that every project is aligned with their companies’ strategies, and that they have, from the very beginning, well-thought-out and forward-looking plans, from Day 1 to post-completion.
CEELM: If you had to identify one person who was most valuable in mentoring you in your career and helping you get to this current position, who would it be? What did you learn from that person?
Adina: During my career I have had the opportunity to work with brilliant attorneys and, at the same time, high-class professionals, whom I am very grateful to and with whom I share the passion for the legal profession.
I also had the privilege to work closely to some true and very skilled industry leaders, from whom I’ve learned tremendously much and who helped me better understand the business, who mentored me and made me become a better counsel.
Over time I have been inspired and learned from many professionals, but I would name two, as their influence mattered the most at that particular moment in my career: One was the then-CFO of one of Advent International’s companies, Irina Rosu, whom I worked with closely for a very long period of time and who fueled my passion for the business side of the legal consultancy. Working with her made me realize even more that, naturally, the next step in my career should be in-house.
The other person who inspired me is Severina Pascu, the CEO of UPC Switzerland (who was then the CEO of UPC Romania and Hungary). Severina, who is herself a consultant turned CFO and later CEO, is the perfect blend of sharpness, professionalism, passion, humble-ness, business-sense, humor, understanding, and energy. She is a true industry leader. Working with her on a day-to-day basis inspired me as a professional and as a leader. If I should name three things I took from working with her, I think these would be out-of-the-box thinking, combined with a full-picture view and business understanding.
CEELM: Let’s conclude on a lighter note: What is your favorite part of Bucharest, and what is your favorite thing to do in the city?
Adina: The place in Bucharest that is closest to my heart is a residential area placed in the northern part of the city, where each street is named after a well-known capital – an area that is full of imposing but beautiful old buildings, where the charm, elegance and mystery of the past is preserved.
Every time I have the chance, I love listening to good live jazz in the company of my friends. And as I am pretty social, I enjoy a good conversation about politics, art, sports, and lifestyle in general with inspiring people.
This Article was originally published in Issue 5.12 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.