Around the house: Cushman & Wakefield taps Univar for new GC, BDO promotes legal head to global GC

This week’s roundup of top in-house moves also includes appointments at Tui Group, Microvast, Eiger BioPharmaceuticals and Washington Spirit

Noelle Perkins will start at Cushman in July Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

Real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield replaces GC

Global commercial real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield has hired Noelle Perkins as its new general counsel, replacing Brett Soloway who left the company in March.

Perkins will join from chemicals distributor Univar Solutions, where she has worked for just over five years, three of which as GC. She also served as the business’s chief risk officer.

At Cushman, Perkins will lead the company’s global legal function and provide strategic advice and guidance to support the business and its operations, serving as company secretary and executive vice president in addition to her GC role. She is due to start in July.

John Forrester, Cushman’s CEO, said: “[Perkins] is a pragmatic business executive whose public company and operational experience will benefit our firm. I am confident that Noelle will be a strong leader to our exceptional legal team, enabling our firm to continue to uphold the highest level of integrity in all that we do to make an impact for our people, clients, communities and planet.”

Prior to her time at Univar, Perkins was chief counsel for oilseeds processing at Archer Daniels Midland, and before that deputy GC at John Bean Technologies. She also had earlier roles at Huthwaite and in private practice at Bell Boyd & Lloyd (now K&L Gates).

Perkins said: “I look forward to joining Cushman & Wakefield and helping the firm and its people expertly navigate the commercial real estate landscape, especially in this time of economic uncertainty, heightened attention to environmental, social and governance considerations, and the opportunities these challenges create.”

Soloway leaves after just under a decade with the company. Deputy GC for corporate and global M&A Steven Belew will serve as interim GC until Perkins arrives on July 1.

Accounting network BDO promotes legal head to new global GC role

International accounting network BDO Global has promoted Zara Hovhannisyan to a new role of global general counsel, with existing GC Basile Dura taking on a risk and compliance mandate.

Brussels-based Hovhannisyan was previously the firm’s head of legal, where she oversaw legal and privacy matters. She originally joined BDO’s legal team in 2013 as a paralegal, working her way up to deputy head of legal and privacy officer in 2019, before being made head of the department in 2021.

Pat Kramer, CEO of BDO Global, said: “To further protect and strengthen BDO’s reputation, dedicated global leadership is required to drive the global legal, risk and compliance and quality agendas respectively. I’m thrilled that Zara has accepted to take up the role of global general counsel, which is an important role within our global leadership team.”

Before joining BDO, Hovhannisyan was a legal secretary at Covington & Burling.

She said: “In this new role, I will continue to support the global CEO and global board and will continue to work very closely with my colleagues on the global leadership team.”

Hovhannisyan is one of several changes made to the firm’s leadership team this month. Trond-Morten Lindberg, previously CEO for the firm’s EMEA business, becomes chief strategy and operations officer, while Albert Lopez, the firm’s current regional CEO for the Americas, is handed the role of managing director for the region, reporting to Lindberg. Dura becomes global head of risk and compliance and Daphna Smuckler is named global head of audit and assurance.

Tour operator Tui promotes from within as legal director departs

German tourism business Tui Group has appointed Florian Lenser as its new group director for legal, compliance and board office, replacing Nina Scherf who has announced her departure from the company.

Lenser joined Tui back in 2017 as senior manager of its board office, before becoming director the following year. He will assume responsibility for the group’s legal and compliance functions from June, in addition to his existing work for the board office.

Sybille Reiss, chief people officer and labour director of TUI, said: “With Florian Lenser we have an excellent and experienced successor for Nina Scherf from our own ranks. He knows the company and the sector very well and has worked closely with Nina Scherf.”

Prior to joining Tui, Lenser was vice president for corporate legal at renewable energy business Conergy.

Scherf, meantime, departs after just a year at Tui, having previously been chief legal counsel and chief compliance officer at German food business GEA Group, where she worked for 15 years until 2020. Prior to that, she worked in private practice at Hengeler Mueller in Frankfurt and Mayer Brown in New York.

US battery-maker appoints renewable energy expert as GC

Nasdaq-listed US battery manufacturer Microvast has appointed Isida Tushe as its new general counsel, replacing Sarah Alexander in the role.

Tushe brings with her vast experience advising on legal and finance matters for renewable energy businesses. She joins from US tech company and electric vehicle-charging infrastructure developer Mphase Technologies, where she oversaw all compliance and legal matters for the company. At Microvast she will also serve as company secretary.

Yang Wu, Microvast’s chairman, CEO and founder, said: “We are pleased to have someone of Isida’s calibre and expertise join the team at Microvast. Isida’s extensive experience and proven track record will serve the company well as we continue to drive innovation and advance our growth.”

Prior to her time at Mphase, Tushe was GC at a private equity-owned US hydroelectric business, senior counsel at Pine Gate Renewables and counsel and VP for project finance at Fuel Cell Energy. She started her career in the banking sector, working on a variety of renewables-related financing transactions.

Tushe said: “The company’s focus on innovating lithium-ion battery solutions that will be critical in decarbonisation and mitigating climate change exemplifies my values and work to drive transformation in the energy industry, and I look forward to working closely with Mr. Wu and Microvast’s talented team.”

Alexander has been at Microvast since 2021. In addition to her role as GC, she has been working as chief compliance officer and head of investor relations. It is unclear if she will remain in the other two roles.

Biopharma company Eiger names new GC

US-listed drug company Eiger BioPharmaceuticals has hired James Vollins as its new general counsel.

Vollins brings with him three decades of legal experience, most recently as GC at BioDelivery Sciences International, which was acquired by Collegium Pharmaceutical last year. Vollins joins Eiger as GC, chief compliance officer and company secretary. Eiger is developing therapies for rare diseases such as the hepatitis delta virus.

The company also named veteran chief financial officer William Kachioff as its new CFO.

David Apelian, Eiger’s interim CEO, said: “Mr. Kachioff brings extensive financial and strategic expertise, combined with a deep knowledge of the biotechnology sector. Mr. Vollins’ extensive legal expertise and insight will be invaluable as we continue to advance our programmes. Their appointments come during a pivotal time as we complete our programme prioritisation analyses to assess the most promising drivers of shareholder value.”

Prior to his time at BioDelivery Sciences, Vollins was GC and chief compliance officer at Bio Products Laboratory, senior assistant GC at Grifols and assistant GC at Talecris Biotherapeutics. He started his in-house career as corporate counsel at Pfizer having previously worked for 13 years in private practice at legacy firm Squire Sanders & Dempsey (now Squire Patton Boggs) and Ulmer & Berne.

Vollins said: “I look forward to contributing to the next phase of Eiger’s planned growth with a commitment to integrity and compliance.”

Apelian has been acting as interim CEO since December after former chief David Cory resigned.

Washington Spirit signs former Chicago Cubs counsel as GC

US women’s football (soccer) team Washington Spirit has named Shameeka Quallo as its general counsel as the club seeks to transform itself into a world-renowned sports brand.

Quallo joins from US Major League Baseball team Chicago Cubs, where she spent five years as associate GC and senior director of diversity, equity and inclusion. At Washington Spirit, she will serve on the club’s executive leadership team and provide counsel and advice across all areas of the business, as well as overseeing its human resources department.

Michele Kang, majority owner of Washington Spirit, said: “Shameeka is the perfect person to join us as legal counsel as we continue to professionalise and transform the club. She brings a wealth of experience in her legal and diversity, equity and inclusion expertise, particularly in sports… We are committed to building and doing things differently, and Shameeka will be a part of spearheading this direction.” 

Prior to her time at the Chicago Cubs, Quallo was director of multicultural affairs and associate GC at the International Speedway Corporation. She also had an earlier stint at the Ladies Professional Golf Association, where she was associate counsel, having started her career outside of law as an audit manager at the National Futures Association.

Quallo said: “When Michele shares her vision and says she is committed to making this club one of the best in the world, you believe her. I’m excited to be a part of it and I look forward to joining these innovative leaders to help shape the organisation and build a solid foundation and future for this club.” 

Washington Spirit currently sits second in the National Women’s Soccer League, having won two of its opening three games since the season started in March.

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]