Anne Madden: In Her Own Words
In Their Own Words profiles focus on how GCs have transcended the “reactive lawyer” role to lead positive change in their companies, the legal profession and society.
Anne Madden is a champion of innovative change initiatives. After 15 years as Honeywell’s VP and Global Head of M&A, Anne stepped up as general counsel in 2017 in a big way: she implemented comprehensive digital contract lifecycle management and transformed Honeywell’s approach to law firm management. With her full commitment and confidence in implementing digital innovation and her belief that change can be a good thing in the legal realm, Anne embodies the qualities of a true leader.
We begin with nine “fill in the blanks” with Anne:
- The best thing a GC can do for a client is:
“Push themselves outside the four walls of the legal function and act like a business owner. The crossover gives you a voice at the table.”
- One big change in the corporate legal sector by 2025 will be:
“Better decision-making through digital analytics.”
- The hardest thing I’ve ever done professionally was:
“Transition back to law after 15 years as the M&A leader – I thought I was going to be an M&A/finance person forever. I surprised myself with the courage to practice law again.”
- I love it when law firm lawyers:
“Teach me something new.”
- I really dislike it when law firm lawyers:
“Tell me something I already know.”
- Three things I love about my team’s culture:
“They’re action oriented and practical, courageous, and intelligent risk takers.”
- One thing I should really change about the way I work:
“Delegating more. I like the work of work and I really like the details, so I tend to get in the weeds on too many things. I need more proper weekends!”
- One sentence of advice for my 25-year-old self:
“Embrace change. Change makes you stronger, smarter and better.”
- The thing I’m most proud of:
“My team’s heroic contribution to Honeywell’s COVID response. Everyone flexed their big leadership muscles and worked collaboratively to keep our factories open and our people safe.”
A Broken System
Taking over the general counsel role at Honeywell in 2017, I knew there was a lot of work to be done. Our contracts across the system were all over God’s Green Acre! There was a mishmash of papers everywhere with very little ability to stay out in front and make significant changes. Honeywell as a company was undergoing digital transformation at the time, and I knew Legal had to be a part of that digital push in a big way.
Luckily, we had the right leaders to do it! We were fortunate to have a very strong pool of legal and other functional leaders who knew how important this digital innovation mission was. The task itself was daunting – taking hundreds of contract terms and templates and fitting them into one usable system, not to mention the challenging technical integration and implementation of the system. And of course, any type of significant change like this takes an emotional toll on people because you are forcing them to work differently. I’m fortunate to have had such a strong and courageous team to go through this with. We put our trust in each other and the process, and wow am I happy with the opportunity we created!
A “LEAP” of Faith
After establishing a need to automate our contract lifecycle process, we got down to business. Our new digital contract lifecycle management tool – branded as LEAP – was set up to enable the user to create contracts with the same repeatable terms. A one-stop shop for NDAs and sales and procurement contracts. We wanted to bring standardized work to the center of Honeywell. The key was developing optimal efficiency, doing the same repeatable work with more productivity and better business results.
The true heroes in this endeavor are our IT team. Lawyers are not always naturally technologically inclined *laughs* . . . so getting IT involved as a key partner was critical. My only regret is not getting them involved sooner! They helped us through the bad, the ugly, and the worst. Change in itself is hard, but when it comes to digital transformation, there is oftentimes an added layer of frustration and pain. I’m so grateful that IT helped us, not just from a technical standpoint, but as an emotional comfort as well! And after an uphill battle with technical glitches and pivoting mid-course to a new implementation partner, I was thrilled to see very quick payback on our investment… and the development of valuable new business opportunities we discovered along the way!
The benefits from a project like this should be measurable, and they were. It was so gratifying to see the working capital benefits as a result of our efforts. Last year we exceeded our working capital goal! We even managed to stay on budget throughout the process. Digital legal transformation is extremely challenging, but with the right team, tools, and determination, you may be surprised at how much, and how quickly, the rewards come. And this effort has opened our eyes to how much more we can do to influence better business results.
Strategic Partner Program
I am very proud of the work we have accomplished with AdvanceLaw to revamp and bring new life to our outside counsel panel. At the start of the project, we took a hard look at the multitude of firms we were using, and it was clear a significant amount of money was caught up in elite firm spend. I wanted our firms to have metrics and accountability the same way our business does. We needed to run an operating system that allowed us to measure and drive the right things.
The biggest and most surprising challenge was getting my team to have an open mind when it came to outside counsel management. Lawyers have a deep-seated emotional connection with some firms that can cloud their judgment on firm performance. People keep going back to the same old firms because that’s where they’re comfortable – but we all know clinging to comfort leaves no room for growth, change, or new perspectives.
This was the most difficult area for me to navigate as a leader. I knew I had to step up and make sure people parked their emotions, worries, and fears about a bad outcome. We needed them to think through a pure, unemotional business return perspective, trusting the process and knowing that we would be better off in the end.
Thankfully, when one (or more) doors close, many more exciting opportunities you never would have imagined open up! Of course, there were the great practical benefits we achieved like seeing our legal spend come down, but the real thrill is developing meaningful relationships with a firm you otherwise might never have worked with and seeing the quality of their people and work product. I love when a strategic partner firm works with my team and just blows our socks off! The quality of work is great and you end up with a seamless and productive partnership. It feels great to get that value. Our continued work with AdvanceLaw has allowed Honeywell’s Legal Team to work better and smarter, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.