Lead(H)er Profile - Michelle Landy, COO/GC at PERSUIT banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Michelle Landy, COO/GC at PERSUIT

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Michelle Landy, COO/GC at PERSUIT

Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I grew up in Melbourne, Australia. I’d describe myself as independent, curious, a go-getter, and a perfectionist; someone that was engaged in a wide variety of pursuits. We won’t ask my mother how she’d describe me! 

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

I studied commerce and law. I had a bunch of jobs while I was studying- supermarkets, cinemas and as a paralegal. My first job after law school was an articled clerk at a law firm (ie. training contract for junior lawyers). 

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

I would describe my career path as a tree with lots of branches, as opposed to a ladder. I started off as a traditional lawyer at a law firm, and from fairly early on, I decided I wanted to have an international experience (this was inspired by my 7-month solo backpacking adventure around Europe and Asia after I finished law school). So after a few years at a firm, I packed my bags and headed to London. I landed there with no job, limited experience, no home and no connections. I started applying for jobs (mainly ones I wasn't really qualified for!), and got an opportunity as an in-house lawyer at a branding & licensing agency - it was a 6 month contract that turned into over 4 years and building an in-house team to support the global business. It was pretty early on in my legal journey to go in-house so I latched on to the general counsel’s at the various brands we represented and learnt from them! This then led to further in-house legal roles with a large media company which took me from London to NYC to Singapore. I always had an interest in the entrepreneurial community, and my professional role expanded into legal and business development. I continued on this path of organic expansion of my roles and skill set. Within this same media company, I had the opportunity to move to Asia for my first role as COO. Ten years down the line, I decided it wasn’t possible to fully understand the entrepreneurial and startup journey without getting under the hood of a growth business, so I took my first startup role in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This then led me to advise and consult for multiple startups and emerging businesses in various markets for a few years before landing in my current role. Fast forward to PERSUIT, I met our Founder/CEO, Jim, about 5 years ago and agreed to consult 2 days/week in NYC. Once I got in there, I was hooked and moved into the role of full-time GC and COO fairly swiftly.  I love NYC for the innovation scene combined with the arts/culture that this city has to offer. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

At PERSUIT, I am the General Counsel and COO. I own and lead all things legal and compliance, people and culture, strategy and operations. 

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

I don’t think I visualized an ultimate destination, I am a lifelong learner. As long as I was learning and growing, I was happy and focused on continuing to expand my skill set. The one thing I always knew is that I enjoy the diversity of functions and am super curious, so I like the breadth of responsibilities and role. 

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

Don’t be obsessed with a straight line ladder of a career path. Always remain open and a learner - work hard, add value and focus on having impact. Try not to worry about titles and stay focused on outcomes and impact; the rest will come. Trust your instincts - it’s ok to get 80% of the way rather than obsess over the 100%.

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging?

The most rewarding part of this is the ever-changing growth journey, and watching the step change at each stage of the business as we grow. I absolutely love building a phenomenal team of people around that journey, and watching the team develop as the business grows and evolves. Saying that, this journey is really tough, and similarly, the thing that’s the most interesting is also the most challenging. It definitely requires an agile mindset. Building a company is hard, being a category-creating company is even harder; we are building a business and educating a market at the same time. The people and culture growth journey is challenging as you scale the company, the proactive work that is necessary to build and maintain the culture is constant but incredibly rewarding. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

It’s hard to pick one thing, because it’s been a series of moments that have taken me on this journey. I’ve had many moments, from massive deals to life-changing experiences and  incredible exposure to many cultures, countries, businesses, business models and amazing professionals and mentors along the way. But building my own high-performing team that truly has each other’s backs and is having a huge impact across our greatest asset: our people, is the one that stands out for me. 

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?

I’m passionate about giving back. On a local basis, I’m involved in organizations that focus on supporting the homeless community in NYC. I’m also involved in the Global Leaders network for my university. Internationally, I’m the Executive Director of Kilimanjaro Education Foundation focused on water, sanitation and other infrastructure builds in the public school system in Tanzania. 


What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Aside from volunteering, I very much enjoy all of the arts and culture that NYC has to offer. I am a massive theater buff and try to go several times a month. I love the food scene as well - I love to try new food spots here in the city. I also love to travel. Ideating around launching a blazer company at the moment (made out in East Africa) - you’ll always catch me in a blazer!

How do you manage stress?

Some self-care through OrangeTheory fitness, massage, and I’ve recently attempted to get into meditation, although I can’t say it’s stuck quite yet. I enjoy long walks in different parts of the city as well.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

Usually two. 

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

I am obsessed with podcasts. I listen to a combination of podcasts for news, a series of entrepreneurial type podcasts, and I also love true crime podcasts.  I don’t go a day without listening to at least 3 podcast episodes. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning - put on Mo News to start off the day.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Stay open-minded, stay curious and get as much experience as you possibly can in multiple environments. The title and the money will come once you have solid experience under your belt. Focus on constant learning, experience and impact at the outset and the rest will follow.  Seek out mentorship and build your personal board of advisors as early as possible. International experiences are incredibly beneficial - both personally and professionally. I had no idea that my decision to move to London for 1 year in 2000 would lead to a 24 year international career living in 5 different countries and working in many more. The best thing you can do is to be uncomfortable as much as you can, that’s where the growth happens. Lean into the uncomfortable zone, you’ll learn a lot more there and hopefully be pleasantly surprised along the way.

About the

PERSUIT is a LegalTech startup that’s changing the way companies engage outside legal counsel.

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