Around the house: BP lines up legal chief replacement, Baker Hughes promotes division GC to vacant CLO role

This week’s roundup of top in-house moves also includes appointments at Volvo, Gallup, Grammarly and Aptia

BP’s legal team will be led by Michael Sosso from the start of next year jon lyall /

BP announces replacement for retiring legal head

British oil and gas giant BP has named Michael Sosso as successor to its legal chief Eric Nitcher, who has announced he is retiring at the end of this year.

Sosso is currently senior vice president legal for BP’s gas and low carbon energy, production and operations and regions, and corporates and solutions entities business lines, a position he has held since 2020. He will take on the executive vice president legal title – the company’s chief legal role – from 1 January.

“Mike is a respected legal professional inside and outside BP and is known for being a values-driven leader,” BP said in a statement.

Sosso has been with BP since 2011, joining as managing counsel for antitrust in Houston before moving to London as vice president for ethics and compliance and then becoming associate general counsel for the company’s downstream and BP Shipping business, before taking on his current role. Prior to his time at BP, Sosso spent almost seven years as an antitrust associate at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.

Nitcher, meantime, steps down after more than three decades with the company, having led BP’s legal team since 2017.

“Eric’s commercial and legal acumen, together with his unwavering commitment to ethical leadership, have been invaluable to BP throughout this time,” the statement said.

Nitcher’s departure follows the exit in September of previous CEO Bernard Looney, who resigned following a probe into undisclosed relationships with his colleagues. BP posted lower-than-expected profits of £3.3bn in the third quarter, down from £8.1bn during the same period in 2022.

Baker Hughes ends CLO search with internal hire

US oil field services company Baker Hughes has promoted Georgia Magno to chief legal officer, replacing Regina Bynote Jones, who left the company earlier this year.

Magno is currently vice president legal and general counsel for the company’s industrial and energy technology business. As CLO, she will be responsible for the company’s legal and regulatory functions, as well as corporate governance and compliance matters. Magno will assume her new role from 1 January.

Lorenzo Simonelli, chairman and CEO of Baker Hughes, said: “Georgia is a proven leader with significant experience managing international and complex affairs. Her appointment is an important step in our continued strategy to strengthen Baker Hughes for growth within energy and industrial markets.”

He added: “With more than a decade of leadership within the company, Georgia will play a pivotal role in delivering Baker Hughes’s purpose to take energy forward and collaborating to solve for the energy trilemma of security, sustainability and affordability.”

Magno has been with Baker Hughes for seven years, first joining as GC for its turbomachinery and process solutions business. She was promoted to her current role in October 2022. 

Prior to her time at Baker Hughes, Magno spent almost seven years at GE Oil & Gas, most recently as associate GC for commercial. She started her career as a trainee at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, before spending more than three years as an associate at Weil Gotshal & Manges covering securities and corporate governance litigation.

Magno’s appointment brings to an end the search for Bynote Jones’s replacement, who left to take up the GC role at ADM back in September. She had been CLO at Baker Hughes since April 2020.

Volvo looks to Swiss unit for next GC

Swedish vehicle-maker Volvo Cars has appointed Helen Hu as general counsel and chief legal officer, replacing Maria Hemberg, who is stepping down from the role next year.

Hu is currently managing director for Volvo Cars Switzerland. In her new role, she will oversee all of Volvo’s legal matters and will sit on its executive management team.

Jim Rowan, Volvo Cars’ CEO, said: “Helen is a strong leader, bringing vast global experience and strong business acumen that spans the US, Europe and APAC. I look forward to working more closely with her on our exciting journey ahead.”

Hu joined Volvo back in 2016, first as head of legal for the company’s Asia-Pacific business, before becoming deputy CEO for Volvo Car APAC. She took up her current role at the start of this year. Prior to her time at Volvo, Hu spent three years as Luxottica’s Asia GC – her first in-house role. She previously worked in private practice as counsel at O’Melveny & Myers and as an associate at Norton Rose Fulbright, Kane Russell Coleman Logan and Duan & Duan Law Firm in China.

Hemberg departs after almost 12 years with the company, having joined from Swedish manufacturer SKF where she was legal counsel. She also spent more than a decade with Swedish law firm Mannheimer Swartling.

Rowan added: “Maria has played a crucial role at Volvo Cars during our company’s most pivotal years. Maria has successfully established Volvo Cars’ governance supporting our listing on the NASDAQ Stockholm and has developed high-performing teams within the areas of legal, compliance, intellectual property and corporate governance, which are all critical to our business today.”

Hemberg will stay on as a senior advisor to ensure a smooth transition.

Gallup welcomes back former legal counsel as new GC

US polling and analytics company Gallup has named William Kruse as general counsel, who is rejoining the company from the CFA Institute.

Kruse replaces Steven O’Brien, who has been with Gallup since 1990 in a variety of roles. Kruse will take on O’Brien’s responsibilities, which include overseeing all legal issues affecting the company, as well as risk management, corporate governance, legal strategy and government relations.

Jon Clifton, Gallup CEO, said: “William’s extensive legal experience and deep understanding of our business will be invaluable as we navigate the complex legal landscape and continue to grow and succeed.”

Kruse’s return follows a spell of almost five years at the CFA Institute, the majority of that time spent as deputy GC and head of global government affairs. His first stint at Gallup lasted more than eight years, where he served as vice president law and counsel, and as regulatory compliance officer. Prior to joining Gallup, he was an associate at Holland Groves Schneller & Stolze.

Kruse said: “I am excited to be back at Gallup and to be part of such a talented and dedicated team. A highly focused and tactical legal team which actively partners with business is essential to Gallup’s ability to help its clients navigate an increasingly complex and regulated world.”

Grammarly lands experienced tech lawyer as GC

US AI-powered writing assistant Grammarly has appointed Jennifer Miller as general counsel.

Miller joins from Starship Technologies, where she was GC and chief legal officer. At Grammarly, she will lead the company’s legal function and join its operating team, helping it navigate AI and privacy regulation risk, as well as help scale Grammarly’s managed business.

In a blog post, Grammarly CEO Rahul Roy-Chowdhury said: “Jennifer’s unique background made her an ideal fit, with experience at hyper-growth and large-scale companies… She’s particularly inspired by companies undergoing worldwide growth while developing innovative and disruptive technologies.”

Miller spent just over two years at Starship Technologies – an autonomous robot delivery company – having previously been GC at high-altitude balloon company Loon. She also had spells at Gigamon (as deputy GC), Hewlett-Packard (as senior IP counsel) and Cisco Systems (as senior corporate counsel. Prior to her in-house career, she worked in private practice at Lerman Senter and Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

In a LinkedIn post, Miller wrote: “It’s a time of explosive growth for AI writing assistance, and I can’t wait to join a team that’s been leading this category from the beginning. I’m incredibly excited to be part of the company’s mission to improve lives by improving communication and to work with the hugely talented and innovative Grammarly team.”

Bain-backed pensions business hires GC ahead of launch

Pensions and employee benefits admin company Aptia has named Melissa Hetherington as its group general counsel ahead of its launch in the new year.

Hetherington joins from AXA, where she was head of strategic projects for its legal group. At Aptia, she will be responsible for leading its global legal, risk and compliance functions.

Bala Viswanathan, Aptia’s CEO, said: “Melissa brings a wealth of legal experience in the financial services industry. I have first-hand experience of Melissa’s strategic thinking, excellent judgement and ability to deliver solutions on complex projects. I am delighted to add her talent to our management team.”

Prior to her time at AXA, Hetherington was chief counsel for international at professional services firm Marsh McLennan. She also had a spell in-house at Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group as deputy GC. Her legal career started at legacy firm Blake Dawson in Sydney, before joining Linklaters, where she spent a decade as a managing associate in its corporate department.

She said: “I am delighted to be joining Aptia at this critical point and to have the opportunity to contribute to the growth and innovation of the Aptia Group. There is an exciting journey ahead for Aptia and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.” 

Aptia was formed out the sale of Mercer’s UK pensions and US health and benefits administration business, which was bought by Bain Capital earlier this year. 

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