Real Model interview episode #19 featuring Michelle Morgan, Senior Commercial Solicitor, Auto Trader UK

What is your job and what does it involve?

I am one of a team of two in-house solicitors at Auto Trader.  My role is varied, supporting all areas of the business. This typically includes drafting terms and conditions for the launch of new products for our retailer customers; negotiating contracts with our various suppliers and partners in the automotive sector; advising on data protection compliance; and ensuring that our advertising campaigns comply with all regulatory requirements.  Although I am constantly drawing on my legal knowledge and experience, the role also involves thinking pragmatically (and sometimes creatively) about what is the right commercial solution for the business. 

How long have you worked in the sector?

I am quite new to the sector, as I moved to Auto Trader in October 2019 (having previously worked at a large commercial law firm in Manchester for ten years). 

What has been the key to your success?

I’ve learnt over the years that it’s important not to be afraid to ask questions. Being relatively new to the business, I am very keen to keep learning more about how the business works, what different people do in their roles and what challenges they are facing. I think that is key to being a good legal advisor. 

Who in your life has been a positive role model for you?

Early in my career, I worked in-house as a paralegal at a bank in a team that was led by a brilliant female lawyer. She was always approachable, even when she was busy and under pressure herself. Working with her, I learnt a lot about the importance of making members of your team feel valued and building good relationships with your colleagues, which I’ve tried to replicate. As a woman (and having worked in the legal sector, where women tend to be under-represented in senior roles), it’s exciting to be working in a company which is one of only three FTSE 100 companies to have 50:50 gender parity on its Board and which is actively working to achieve parity throughout the organisation, including in key leadership positions.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy the variety of work (no day is the same!) and the brilliant people that I work with. In the company, there is a genuine culture of collaboration (with lots of face-to-face meetings), which means that it is a sociable place to work!

What is your best trait?

I was once described by a teacher at school as being “unflappable”.  I am not sure that is always true (my children definitely wouldn’t agree!).  However, I’d like to think that I am generally calm under pressure, which is useful for working in this fast-paced environment.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Have confidence in your ability.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you at work?

As I’ve only been in the role six months, I haven’t managed to do anything too embarrassing (so far!).

What do you do to unwind and relax?

As I work in front of a computer screen most of the week, in my spare time I like to get outside and try to keep fit – going for walks with my family, running and gardening.  

What would you consider as your greatest achievement?

In terms of my career, the greatest challenge has been trying to get a good balance between my career and family life (in particular, raising two little boys with my husband).  At times (like many working parents) I have felt completely stretched. I am currently working part-time 4 days a week, with one day working at home, which is working well for us at the moment, so that feels like an achievement!

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