Judith Green is Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Communications Officer at Eversheds Sutherland, a global law firm whose purpose is to help its clients, people and communities thrive. Appointed Chief Global Press Officer at Baker & McKenzie before she was thirty, she has had over twenty years of experience leading communications and strategy at various global law firms.
What does purpose mean to you?
For me, it’s ‘what makes life worth it’? While others might have a more classical understanding of purpose, such as their guiding light or North Star, this is what purpose means to me. Life is what we’re all here for, it’s our shared experience. So what makes it worth living?
From that, my personal purpose comes down to two words: ‘for good’. This means doing good work with good people, for the good of everyone.
Life is what we’re all here for, it’s our shared experience. So what makes it worth living?
When do you feel most purposeful?
I’m an adrenaline junkie, so for me it’s when things change. It’s easy to create a purpose, put some initiatives around it, and keep it in the corner like a pet – you might look at it every now and again to make sure it’s okay. But when you use purpose to its full power, it can work as a change mechanism.
The world is changing all the time, so if you’re keeping to the status quo, you’re effectively going backwards. I feel most purposeful when I’m part of affecting that change, challenging the status quo to create good where it can’t happen on its own. It gives me a buzz that I’m always a bit hungry for.
What makes you feel fulfilled professionally?
I care deeply about my team. There is nothing more fulfilling as a leader than bringing a team together, empowering them and seeing the magic that they create. I feel so proud when I look at some of the junior people I’ve worked with over the course of my 30 year career and see the extraordinary things that they have achieved. They’ve done it themselves, but I have a sense of reflected pride that I played a small part in helping them take those initial steps.
What role does purpose play when it comes to communication and strategy?
When you’re thinking about the strategy of an organisation, you need to keep pulling it back to your purpose. If it isn’t helping you deliver your purpose, why are you doing it? Taking that into the communications space, you should constantly be asking yourself: ‘why am I communicating this?’ Purpose brings a structure around thinking and operating in a business: whether it’s at a strategic or communication level, it’s extremely powerful.
I feel most purposeful when I’m part of affecting that change, challenging the status quo to create good where it can’t happen on its own. It gives me a buzz that I’m always a bit hungry for.
What is the hardest thing about being purpose driven?
Tension. The structure of a law firm is somewhat at odds with our purpose, like many industries. Law firms exist to make profit for their partners, at a very basic level; if you juxtapose that with helping your clients, people and communities to thrive, there is a natural tension. The challenge is therefore: how do you tread the line to make sure that you are delivering on your purpose and also generating profit?
I don’t have an easy, ready-baked solution to this; the business can’t exist unless you’re making money. But once you’re financially stable, that gives you the licence to then think about your responsibility.
Which leaders have inspired you?
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I have two leaders that inspire me – one fictional and one real. First, there’s Christine Lagarde. She’s President of the European Central Bank, but when I met her she was the chair of global law firm Baker & McKenzie. I worked for her as Chief Global Press Officer. She’s an extraordinary role model, an incredible lawyer and brilliant at using empathy to bring people together and create change.
Christine Lagarde took a big chance on me; I was in my twenties and I didn’t really have much experience. Working with her was one of those moments that I look back on and realise that everything changed.I wouldn’t be where I am today without the trust that she put in me 20 years ago.
My other inspiration is Snoopy. My general motto in life is to ‘be more Snoopy’ because he’s filled with love and loyalty, he’s joyful and funny and he doesn’t take life too seriously.
When have you felt like giving up?
Like everyone, I have low moments – most often occurring when my alarm goes off. But when I feel genuinely low, I try to remember that tomorrow’s another day and life is short – none of us are getting out of here alive. So I carry on because every day has good moments, even during the darkest days. I hang onto those moments and then start again tomorrow.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Building great teams, believing in people, empowering people, supporting people and having enough confidence to step back and let other people shine. If I could deliver on that, then I think I’ll get out of here with a good legacy.