I joined Esri in 2005 as a contracts specialist. Prior to that I lived in Spain, where I worked in the legal department of a civil engineering company. I'm now manager of the International Group, which consists of three other specialists and one person who helps us with administrative matters.
Our primary role is to support Esri's 80-plus international distributors and their customers. We draft and negotiate agreements that are used for international customers; sometimes a distributor wants us to get directly involved in negotiations with their customers. You may start your morning talking with somebody in Europe who's at the end of their day, and finish with a user in Australia who's just waking up. We also provide translation services, review RFPs (requests for proposals), and assess risk in contracts. We do a lot of research as well. This gives us variety, and it's a very active, rapid-paced environment.
The common denominator for our team is probably the variety of the things we do. Each distributor is different, culturally and businesswise, and we have to be conscious of that to better serve them. Our job is to protect Esri as much as possible, but at the same time, we want distributors to be successful. It gives you quite a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when you've got one of those big deals closed.
The amount of expertise in this group is huge. If you really take the time to listen, you can change yourself in ways that you wouldn't even dream of. Whether it's because of their training, the positions they hold, or the amount of contracts experience they have accrued over the years, their combined knowledge is quite impressive. You can ask a question that you just need a quick answer to, and come back to your office with two pages' worth of notes. I especially took advantage of that when I first came to Esri. I guess that's probably the most remarkable thing about working in this department—the number of resources available and the willingness to share.
To be successful in our group, you have to be the type of person who is curious, who is not threatened by variety—you see that as an opportunity to learn other things. Many times, the legal repercussions of a deal are not that difficult; it's the research that you have to do before you can actually move forward that can be challenging. Sometimes you have to read between the lines and do a lot of digging. There are very few circumstances in which you're going to encounter the same question; similar, but not the same. You have to investigate each case.
Esri has given me the opportunity to share my knowledge, to learn, and to learn from my colleagues. I've been given the opportunity to better myself and to start on a different career path. I think it's impressive that at Esri you will be listened to; it doesn't matter who you are or how long you've been with the company. Maybe what you have to say is not relevant, but you're given the chance to speak. Esri's also unique in that if you want to contribute, there's a way to do that here.
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