ALB Conversations: Zhang Jianjun, General Counsel and Head of legal affairs and intellectual property, Orion Group (China)
Zhang Jianjun graduated from the Law School at Beijing Institute of Technology, and Tokyo University's Graduate School for Law and Political and Graduate School of Public Policy. He is currently the head of legal affairs and intellectual property and the general counsel of Orion Group (China). Zhang has a wealth of experience practicing law. Before joining Orion, he worked in the legal department of Toyota Motor (China) Investment Co., Ltd. (a Fortune 500 company) and Zhong Lun Law Firm.
ALB: What is your strategy for the legal team building and management?
Zhang Jianjun (Zhang): As the head of legal affairs and intellectual property of Orion Group (China), one of my work priorities is to build a highly professional and dynamic legal team that is willing to meet challenges. In the context of economic globalization today, almost all companies are facing fierce competition from all aspects at home and abroad. At Orion's legal team, we are not satisfied with just handling procedural, repetitive and general legal affairs; our goal is to provide the company with comprehensive and value-added legal solutions more accurately, effectively and at a lower cost.
In the process of building Orion China's legal team from scratch, my principles have been: remaining focused on the goals, being solution-oriented, and always striving for better and innovation. We work together with business departments to discover business challenges and pressure points, and find practical, effective, executable and constructive solutions for the company to better achieve the business goals, thus creating maximum value for the company in collaboration with business departments. With commitment and continuous efforts, the legal department has won the recognition of the company and has become a trusted partner of the business departments.
ALB: How has COVID-19 pandemic affected the operations of your team and the whole company? As the general counsel, how did you lead your team to respond to the pandemic?
Zhang: The high growth of the food and beverage industry during the pandemic is second only to the cleaning and disinfection industry and pharmaceutical industry, which might be unexpected for many food and beverage companies. In the early stage of the pandemic, Orion has been identified by the government as one of the companies guaranteeing people's livelihood supplies. We made rapid adjustments to our work priorities in response to the fast changes in the situations during the pandemic: stepping up to help the company carry out effective COVID-19 prevention measures and to ensure that the company resumes production in compliance to laws and regulations, so as to meet the government's requirements for enterprises that are designated to guarantee the supplies for people's livelihood.
We also comprehensively sorted out the legal risks in the implementation of various contracts, sales processes and dealer management, labor and personnel, as well as complaints and litigation, and quickly provided solutions for business departments to ensure the legal and compliance operation of all business lines of the company.
ALB: What kind of compliance system have you established for your company? What are the advantages of this system? What areas need improvement?
Zhang: At the end of 2016, Orion introduced ethical management into the company's business strategy, with a view to strengthening process standards from within the company, promoting compliance construction, and enhancing corporate social responsibility.
When the legal team builds the compliance system of Orion China, our starting point is to enhance the compliance awareness of all legal persons of Orion China. By establishing a relatively complete compliance system suitable for Orion's actual business, the legal risk in the business process can be reduced and controlled within the reasonable range. We have noticed that the authorities are intensifying regulatory efforts in all aspects and at all levels, and the scope of compliance is covering more issues. It requires our legal team to work closely with the financial, audit, personnel, and import and export departments when building the compliance system, so as to complete the establishment of the compliance system and make improvements to it.
At present, the key areas of compliance management include food safety, contract management, intellectual property rights and information security, labor and employment, anti-commercial bribery, and import and export trade compliance. We will formulate corresponding basic management systems in these key areas. In the meanwhile, we will review existing systems and procedures from time to time, analyze possible compliance risks and make timely improvements. We will also work together closely with external lawyers and legal advisors that fit the actual businesses of Orion, to help us in risk identification, risk assessment, and formulation of specific risk response plans.
In the future, our legal team will proactively expand the compliance work areas, and pay close attention to the law enforcement environment and its changes, with the focus on optimizing the compliance work in trade secrets, data protection, and anti-unfair competition. And we plan to invite lawyers with rich practical experience to give us compliance training.
ALB: At present, how do you use technology in your company's compliance system? Since you become the general counsel, what development or changes has the legal team experienced at work in terms of the use of technology? What is your future plan for the use of technology at work?
Zhang: Orion China's legal teams have always been exploring ways of better using intelligent tools at work. As the head of legal affairs of Orion China, I have also been thinking about how to maximize the power of technology in the company's legal system. And more importantly, how to use the new technical means appropriately to help the legal team to deal with procedural work, so that my team members can devote more time and energy to handle more complex affairs. This in fact poses a big challenge to me – I need to learn more about technical knowledge, and actively gain more exposure to new technological means, so I can have a better idea about how to appropriately use technical means in our legal system.
We introduced Bestsign e-contracting platform and started to use the e-contracting technology in 2019. By using this technology, our work efficiency has been improved in many aspects, such as the dynamic management of dealer data, legal risk control, contract management cooperation and supplier network management. It indeed helps us create more value for the legal team as well as the company. It is not simply changing a paper contract into an electronic contract; it is a innovation for business management and operation control.
The e-contracting technology has been perfectly connected with our self-developed contract review system. Now we can carry out intelligent management of the entire life cycle of contracts, including contract review, contract signing, and contract storage. As the information and data collected by the e-contracting platform have been real name verified, we also make full use of them in other related operation and management systems of the company. And this can ensure the accuracy and authenticity of the basic data maintained at the company. I think it is very important for the company's data collection and development.
In the future, we will further expand the application scenarios of e-contracting, including personnel management, logistics supply chain management, dealer management and other links. E-contracting will be no longer just a platform for us. We will consider developing it as a core module in the legal system of the company. If any other department needs to use the e-contracting technology or electronic contract, it can connect with the core module of the legal department. By deepening of our connection with business departments, we can realize the smart data sharing. I believe it is in fact a very good way to increase the trust and rapport between the business departments and the legal department.
ALB: What are your plans or prospects for your work in the future?
Zhang: In the next one to two years, Orion China's business development will quickly enter the stage of globalization and diversification, with the focus on the diversification of business fields. Therefore, I believe that the legal team will definitely face new opportunities and challenges in more business fields. I hope that the legal team will improve professional capabilities in line more closely with the company's strategic development and changes, especially in key areas such as investment and mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property rights and dispute resolution, to provide the company with more practical and effective legal services, and create more value for the company.
And I hope that I can help the legal team members to comprehensively improve their professional capabilities and expand their personal space for professional growth, and meanwhile motivate and help them to realize their potentials. I believe this will not only help the development of the legal team, but also play a very positive role in promoting Orion's business development in China.
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