As the Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, Faeron is responsible for all things legal and regulatory, including Privacy and AML, as well as managing the Board of Directors and Government Relations. With such a significant title comes a significant amount of responsibility, and knowledge of where Moneris sits today, and plans to be in the future.
We sat down with Faeron to learn more about her career, how she balances her roles, and how she makes time for herself.
Have you always focused on corporate law? What is it about the world of corporate law that continues to interest you?
I actually transitioned through a few different areas of law before I found the one that really stuck with me. I was called to the New York State Bar in 1994, and then in Ontario in 1995. From there I worked as a criminal lawyer for a short period, but realized quickly that it wasn’t for me. I also worked at a corporate litigation firm and enjoyed it a lot, but I knew it wasn’t what I was most passionate about. I really enjoyed many aspects of corporate law, including tax and IP and became focused on technology law early on in my career.
Something I really enjoy about law is being able to work strategically and solve puzzles - be it putting deals together or analyzing issues to figure out the best course of action. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since I was little sitting in math class solving problems. There’s something about finding answers and making a practical impact with my choices that’s always resonated with me, and something I felt like I wasn’t able to do in corporate litigation as much.
In business law, especially in my role here at Moneris, I get to put deals together, help build and implement strategic plans for the future, and ensure that we’re staying legally compliant and taking on smart risk. Because I own the risks we take and live with the results, I feel like I make an impact and understand the meaning of my work.
How do your different roles play out day to day?
As the Corporate Secretary, my main responsibility is supporting the work of our Board of Directors. The Board’s role is to guide and oversee Moneris’ business, including our strategy for the future. It’s comprised of executives from our co-owners RBC and BMO, so there are a lot of different viewpoints and strategic discussions in the room. My role is to try to ensure that the Board is meeting its corporate law obligations as well as operating to meet the governance and other requirements established by the shareholders when the company was founded.
As the Chief Legal Officer, I am accountable for anything and everything that has to do with legal, regulatory or compliance issues. This could be new laws coming into effect, regulatory requirements, litigation, M&A, employment issues, and partner and merchant contracts. Our teams have a view into all of the high-importance, high-priority initiatives and matters, and work with our internal business partners to make sure Moneris’ strategy and priorities are achieved. We have fantastic Internal Audit, Legal and Compliance teams who provide customer-focused service and do the right thing day after day for Moneris. I’m lucky to have such strong teams that I get to lead.
So, how do you manage to prioritize your work then?
We continually try to focus on strategic priorities, high value matters and high legal and regulatory risk. We look to our strategy, priorities, ELT direction, project prioritization work and customer input to guide us towards where we should be prioritizing our time and resources at any given moment. And we’re are constantly re-assessing based on the dynamic nature of our business and legal environment.
What do you do to handle stress?
There’s a few different things I do to handle stress, but I don’t think that there’s a single solution that works for everyone. There is no work life balance, it’s rather a constant balancing act on any given day.
I do a lot of yoga! I try to exercise as often as possible otherwise I am very grouchy. I try not to work on weekends unless I really have to, so I attempt to shut the “work” part of my brain off until Sunday night. There will always be exceptions to that rule, but I do put a real effort into making sure I can have “weekends”. Taking time away from the office and being able to disconnect for a while helps me to be present in my work when I am here.
I also really try to make time to sleep. It might not always be my needed seven hours of sleep every night, but I try to be in bed by 11pm most nights. Your brain needs to rest just like the rest of your body to work the way it’s supposed to, and sleep is the key to that!
What career advice would you give your younger self?
The first piece of advice I would give myself is to take a gap year between high school and university. I finished my bachelor’s degree in three years, and I was focused on getting it done as fast as possible. I think I would have gotten more out of my academic time at university if I had more perspective and context about the world outside of the education system.
My other piece of advice to myself would be to do an MBA while at law school.
What are some simple tips for business owners to make sure that they’re keeping legally protected, while being able to participate in the ever-changing world of payments?
This really depends on the business – the size, the industry, there’s a lot of different things you need to take into consideration. The one thing all businesses should do though is hire a good lawyer! That doesn’t mean the most expensive lawyer you can find, but a lawyer with a strong background who takes a sound, risk-based approach.
If you’re in the early stages of building or creating your business, make sure that you start out by being protected. It’s always better to be sure you’re set up properly from the start, than to try to unwind something later or find out you don’t own your IP.
Interested in hearing more from the Moneris executive team? Make sure to read our Q&As with Brian Prentice, Moneris' Chief Risk Officer, and Jeff Guthrie, Moneris' Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.