IBI Group’s general counsel discusses strategies for business growth

Steven Kresak’s growth-focused initiatives include corporate streamlining and robotics

IBI Group’s general counsel discusses strategies for business growth
Steve Kresak

Since joining professional services firm IBI Group five years ago as general counsel and corporate secretary, Steven Kresak’s primary focus for his legal department has been on supporting the growth of the business by leveraging technology and creating efficiencies.

“The first question we ask about any new initiative is ‘how does this support growth?’ and if we don’t immediately have an answer, we abandon the initiative,” says Kresak, who previously worked at Infrastructure Ontario. “I’m constantly surprised when I go to legal seminars where the focus is on compliance because that doesn’t make any money. If all you want to do is follow the rules, the best way to eliminate risk is not to do anything at all.”

When he first joined the professional services firm, Kresak set about streamlining the business globally by reducing the number of legal entities from 56 to 26.

“It was an unwieldy, expensive and inefficient way of doing business so one of the initiatives we took on was a corporate streamlining which was a huge success in terms of reducing the administrative burden and super-charging how the business would operate in all the jurisdictions in which we provide services,” says Kresak. Together with his six-person legal team, Kresak also organized a series of workshops focused on knowledge transfer to help employees identify actions and mitigate risks that would ultimately improve profitability for the organization.

Another core focus for Kresak and his team was the development of robotic process automation bots. Legal chat bots were created to allow IBI to streamline the delivery of services internally and externally to clients.

“People can chat with BotIBI to get information on what contract entity they can use in whatever jurisdiction in the world they want to work in,” says Kresak. “It also provides completed templates for contracting with clients externally, so it’s all done by a bot instead of engaging expensive legal resources.” Following the successful launch of BotIBI, the team also rolled out a business compliance certification bot.

A smart contracting pilot is now in the planning stages, which will leverage artificial intelligence to flag contracts that have a different risk profile. Employees around the world will be able to select a contracting language and to interact with software in lieu of having to engage the legal department.

“We made a decision internally not to grow the team in terms of bodies in seats but to better leverage technology to the benefit of the business,” says Kresak.

Kresak’s legal team focuses the use of external counsel on dispute resolution. The business faces a lot of disputes and litigation worldwide so external counsel expertise is needed in multiple jurisdictions where the laws differ. Law firm partners are also engaged to help with IP protections and enforcements.

Amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, IBI group has successfully transitioned its 2,700 staff in 66+ countries to a fully remote workforce with very little interruption to work. Business travel has been suspended.

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