Where are they now: Sylvia Hands

 
We spoke with Sylvia Hands, who was a lawyer in our Corporate & Commercial and IP/IT teams in Melbourne from 2007-2010. Sylvia left the firm to pursue in-house roles, first at Spotless Group and now at Medibank Private, where she is Head of Legal. Sylvia spoke to us about the variety of work she encounters in the health industry, particularly over the past two years, and shares a Hall & Wilcox dance competition highlight.
Sylvia profile photo Feb 2020_2

My career story...

I began my career as an articled clerk at Hall & Wilcox. At the time, we were fortunate enough to undertake five rotations, which meant I was able to get to know everyone in the firm. I felt a real sense of community and that I was part of the entire firm. I settled in as a lawyer in the Corporate & Commercial team under the managing partner Tony Macvean. After a couple of years, I was able to gain experience working in the Intellectual Property & Technology team under partner Ben Hamilton. Given the incredible breadth of experience I was able to gain at Hall & Wilcox, I felt I was ready to pursue a career in-house by accepting an offer for a legal counsel role at Spotless Group Ltd. Spotless is an ASX-listed company and at the time I supported both the Australian and New Zealand businesses. Looking back, it was incredible to be able to gain significant contract drafting and negotiation experience during my time at Spotless, which covered a diverse range of service areas and counterparties, including both government and corporate entities. I was then driven to pursue an in-house legal career at a consumer-facing business and my career at Medibank Private Ltd began. Originally a health insurer, Medibank has now grown into a health company and is an interesting, complex and customer-centred organisation. My current role is as Head of Legal, supporting the Customer & Brand and Customer Portfolios businesses, and I lead a team of six lawyers. My team’s mission statement involves putting the customer at the heart of what we do and giving fearless advice on how the business can navigate risks, including consumer law risks.

A typical day at work for me is …

Non-existent because every day is different! One of the things I enjoy most about my role at Medibank is the variety of matters that arise each day and the cross-functional nature of almost everything we do. It means that my team can obtain a broad and thorough understanding of the business and its operational aspects.

The thing that makes me get out of bed and go to work each morning is …

The people I work with, both within my team and the broader business. I know it sounds a little cheesy to say that, but Medibank is genuinely a human-centred organisation and we are all striving to achieve the best customer outcome. Being part of the health industry, especially during these past two years, has made me very proud, as I’ve been part of many initiatives designed to support our customers and the community.

I’m also passionate about …

Travel, food, wine, music, movies. Basically, anything that’s social!

The best bit of advice given to me was …

Always trust your judgment and back yourself.

The best part of my role is …

Working with an incredible team of people who are passionate, commercially and legally savvy, collaborative and supportive. Also, working for a health-oriented organisation that is driven by achieving the best customer outcome.

My most memorable Hall & Wilcox moment was …

Taking to the stage at our Trivia Night in my first year and winning the dance-off competition. You’ll have to sign an NDA for me to disclose the song that I had to dance too…!

Connect with Sylvia through LinkedIn.

This article was published in December 2021.