Ever since she watched the Crown Court television series as a young student, then made it to the national finals of The Bar National Mock Trial competition as her team’s ‘barrister’, Vanya Bromfield has known she wanted a career in law.
A law degree at Oxford University followed, then a two-year traineeship at law firm White & Case, which gave her rotations in both London and Singapore and a valuable perspective on working in a truly global business.
Having been intrigued by the ‘power of brands’ during her rotation with the Intellectual Property (IP) team, she undertook a Post Graduate diploma at the University of Bristol in the subject while starting a permanent IP associate role at the firm. There, she led on projects such as the seizure of imported counterfeit goods and IP infringement disputes.
Vanya's desire to pursue a broader commercial role prompted a move to the IT/Commercial group of international law firm Baker & McKenzie as senior associate. There, she had her first opportunity to work in industry with a secondment to Accenture.
Immensely enjoying exposure to all aspects of the deals on which she was advising, Vanya subsequently pursued a position as group legal counsel for the central IT function of Belron International.
This gave Vanya the chance to influence business strategy ‘from inside’ rather than advising on legal specifics from the periphery. When the opportunity came to gain broader exposure to the wider business, as senior legal manager for Belron UK (Autoglass), she seized it.
By now, she’d established a broad base of expertise, a strong professional network and a record of adding commercial value. However, the UK company offered limited scope for further growth.
Ready for a new challenge, she moved to Smith Group’s Business Information Services (BIS) team. As general counsel, BIS, she was part of the Senior Leadership Team, driving our global IT and technology transformation across Smiths, while also providing legal support to the Indirect Procurement function and co-chairing Smiths GDPR and Data Protection Compliance Programme.
The next four years saw her gradually take on greater responsibility, extending her role to vice president for global legal operations, and becoming a member of both Smiths Legal Leadership Team and Smiths Business Ethics Council.
Impressed with her performance, John Crane invited her to become its general counsel, where she now leads a global legal team helping Smiths largest division achieve its strategic goals.
Although she’s been at Smiths for twice as long as anywhere else, she said, ‘It still feels fresh. Each of the legal teams across Smiths are fully immersed in the various Divisions and functions that they support. This means we’re able to act as true ”business partners”, providing pragmatic, commercially focused advice, with a deep understanding of our strategic aims and purpose.
‘What’s more, everyone here is very talented, collaborative and engaged. Colleagues are also extremely generous with their time. For example, when I joined both BIS and John Crane, they took the time to help me understand our strategies, product and service offerings, and customer base – and that’s helped me succeed at Smiths.’
To replicate this experience for her team in her current role, Vanya helps them to learn as much as they can about John Crane’s products, operations and strategies, and to meet as many colleagues as possible. She said, ‘That not only enables them to add more value to the business and stakeholders but is great for their career development.’
She’s been exploring her own ‘new horizons’, too. After achieving Six Sigma Lean green belt certification, she’s been involved in improving the operational efficiency of processes within her team at John Crane – and is currently embarking on the black belt certification process.
Describing her time with Smiths, she said, ‘It’s been more than I could have imagined. When you’re surrounded by engaged, knowledgeable and driven colleagues, firing up the laptop each day to work with them is a privilege!’