Shahin Foroughian is senior advisor & legal counsel at Transfield Services. Today, he tells NZ Lawyer about wanting to become a “dinosaur expert”, taking instructions in a nail salon and reveals who pours the best Coke Zero in Newmarket…
NZ Lawyer: What made you decide to become a lawyer?
Shahin Foroughian: In my early years, I gave serious thought to becoming a firefighter or “dinosaur specialist”. Not being able to pick between the two, I settled on becoming a dentist.
I decided to speak with a dentist to better understand what the day-to-day involved and, after a twenty-minute lecture on the excitement involved in performing a root canal, I realised that there were others more suited to that profession than me.
Becoming a lawyer was the obvious next choice. In all seriousness, I was drawn to a profession dedicated to the delivery of justice.
How long have you worked with Transfield Services and what brought you to the company?
Nearly three years. A friend brought the vacancy to my attention. I knew that this type of opportunity was rare, and this particular one looked completely beyond my capability at the time, which really appealed to me.
What’s the strangest task you ever been asked to complete at work?
In my first year, I once had to take urgent (but not sensitive) instructions from a colleague who was at a nail salon and on her way to the airport to catch a flight. It involved sitting in a tiny stool, full suit, and furiously scribbling notes while the nail salon clientele talked about their day and looked at me suspiciously.
What’s the biggest benefit of working in-house, as opposed to working in private practice?
I have only been in-house, so I can only comment on that.
Working in-house gives you the luxury of really getting to know the internal clients as well as the company’s culture and key objectives. This allows you to tailor your service to (hopefully) give each colleague a really good experience, in line with what the company is striving to achieve.
You also get to collaborate closely with people who are specialists in various fields, professions and industries. I find that looking at the same matter with such different perspectives and approaches produces better fruits.
You’re based in Newmarket – where’s the best place to go for a drink after work?
It depends on what you’re into. I find all the spots in Nuffield and Teed St pour a consistently good Coke Zero. C’est Fromage in McColl Street is great too.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
One of dad’s many Persian proverbs, which roughly translates to “tell me who you have around you, and I will tell you who you are”.
For the record, I’m surrounded by really impressive people.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I’m a big fan of all things creative, stand-up comedy, the theatre, and art galleries being examples. I consume more than I create at the moment, but will hopefully change that one day.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
One of three things – a doctor, an engineer, or a disappointment to my parents.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing New Zealand in-house lawyers over the next 12 months?
The next 12 months will be exciting. The challenge is ensuring the legal function makes a significant contribution to the overall financial performance of the organisation. I think this requires delivering as much as you can in-house, constantly enhancing your understanding of risk, and balancing creative approaches with discipline.
Who are you supporting in the FIFA World Cup, and why?
I go for the team with the lower odds of winning in any one game. I really enjoy a good underdog story.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
Not that it would be financially viable, but the more (resources), the merrier!