Canadian Lawyer

August 2023

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 35 of 51

34 FEATURE GC PROFILE COLLECTIVE SUPPORT FOR DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION Rusty Juma is a founding member of the National GC Network – a general counsel group with members from across Canada who strive to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion issues to their boards. The goals of the network include: Giving everyone, regardless of their race or ethnic background, equal opportunity to advance their careers and to work in a diverse and inclusive environment. Leading by example – bring the issues to others in leadership positions to create change from the top. Finding allies and advocates to promote and foster change for a more diverse and inclusive environment. Being the ally that you hope to see in others. Bringing ED&I to life wherever you work and live. seem like a quantum leap, but Juma doesn't quite see it that way. "With professional services becoming so commoditized, especially in Canada, innovation and thinking about monetizing new service offerings has been a theme throughout my in-house career," he says. "That's equally true at VW, which has committed [C$265 billion] through 2027 for electrification and digitization." Indeed, Juma lists the ESG phenomenon as among the challenges that are top of mind for him. "Meeting that mandate is not an easy task, especially given today's supply-chain constraints." Especially when part of his job is ensuring that VW, which he joined in February, stays ahead of the curve. "Whereas Tesla used to be the only game in town, the electric vehicle market has become much more competitive," Juma says. In his new role, Juma leads a multi- disciplinary legal, regulatory, and govern- ment relations team to support the business in transitioning to electric, connected, and autonomous vehicles. He advises on marketing and advertising, consumer protection laws, privacy and cybersecurity, Quebec's French language laws, and policy development. Other duties include supporting buy-sell transactions, managing dealer disputes, ensuring compliance with franchise laws, and managing class-action litigation and complex regulatory investigations. Other top-of-mind challenges for Juma are dealing with labour markets and human relations issues, including gender inequities, mental health in the workplace, and succession planning; relations with global manufacturers, especially in Japan and Germany; lobbying governments for green tech initiatives; and working with a dealer network facing huge waiting list production issues. Then there's the new battery plant that VW just announced for St. Thomas – reportedly the largest battery gigafactory in North America. The gigafactory will have six production blocks with a potential production volume of up to 90-gigawatt hours – enough for about one million electric vehicles annually. "I'm not sure quite what our involvement will be, as VW's strategy is to keep the battery and other supply chain manufacturing that we do at arm's length from the car brand," Juma says. While Juma won't speculate on what's behind that strategy, VW may be looking to be a supplier to other manufacturers. As was the case at Eckler, Juma is mandated to build a legal team at VW. To that end, he's looking to hire two lawyers as soon as possible. The group comprises Juma, two government relations people, a law clerk, and a legal assistant. "My philosophy regarding a team is that people come first," Juma says. "Key "As a transactional lawyer in private practice, I only got to see a deal from a certain perspective; in-house, I'm involved from concepts to cash, from the birth of an idea to its revenue-generating potential and form" to that is a collaborative, consultative approach that plays to people's strengths and ensures they're growing personally and professionally." There's a lot to do, but – methodical as always – Juma has developed 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans. "The idea is to ensure that I'm set up for success, which is the first step in ensuring that my team is set up for success," he says. Continuing his focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues is another priority for Juma as he builds his team.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian Lawyer - August 2023