Danielle Sheer: Navigating Through Risk

Danielle Sheer

Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Danielle Sheer to discuss her career as well as her transition to Commvault as their new chief legal and compliance officer.

AALM: What drew you to Commvault? What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

DS: I genuinely believe in Commvault’s technology. Not only are IT organizations grappling with ransomware and evolving data and privacy regulations, but data is everywhere – onsite, in the cloud, and due to the pandemic, increasingly on remote and personal devices. Commvault enables companies to navigate these complexities to protect their organizations, customers, and communities. Additionally, from my very first conversation, I was drawn to being part of this team and culture. From the CEO down, we prioritize attracting the right people and providing the coaching and encouragement to play and win together.

AALM: COVID has affected most business operations in the last few years. How has the pandemic affected Commvault and its legal department, specifically?

DS: In many ways, the pandemic has made the team more productive and efficient. We don’t meander – we show up for a reason, work on it, and move onto the next task. That also means it is easier for team members to burnout. As a company, we’ve introduced recharge days to provide respite, and are focused on enabling well-being and balance. I do this by coaching my team members to set their own boundaries. Working from home isn’t ending, so we need to make sure we are caring for our people.

AALM: What are your main goals when working with outside legal counsel? How has that relationship changed over the years and what changes do you anticipate in the future?

DS: I am trying to accomplish something unique in terms of tone, enablement, and culture at Commvault, so I look for outside counsel that I can confide in, who appreciate what we’re trying to build, and will help make my team and our legal program successful. Whether it is choosing a transactional or relationship outside counsel, we look for teams that have broad perspective and can analyze patterns we don’t have visibility into; specialty practices; and a cultural and philosophical fit where we are comfortable asking judgment-call type questions and trusting the feedback.

AALM: What kind of culture are you trying to build in your legal department?

DS: Philosophically, I feel that the value of a legal leader isn’t in risk mitigation. That’s part of it, but the value of a legal leader is in helping the business navigate through risk to achieve its goals. To do this well, a leader must be curious about the business, the problems it solves, its customers and markets, and how the machine works. I also fundamentally believe the law is living and breathing and must be innovated like everything else.

AALM: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned over your career?

DS: At some point in everyone’s career, someone gives you a chance. In advance of Carbonite’s public offering, my first IPO as a GC, I approached our CEO to make my case for why he shouldn’t look for a general counsel from an established public company. I had practiced what to say and what to ask for, but I didn’t need it. He reassured me I could do it. Just as he supported me, I think we should all look to discover possibilities in people – before they even know what they’re capable of – to open doors, support, and give them a chance. This is the most rewarding lesson I have learned in my career.

AALM: Tell us about any mentors you’ve worked with through your career and the best advice they shared with you.

DS: I learn from everyone I can, especially my GC peers. Given how our field has changed so dramatically over the years, the most impactful advice I’ve received is around simplifying our processes. It’s time to look at the tools we use or how we’ve done something over the past years or decades and consider innovating or even discarding it altogether. To thrive in today’s global and digital world, we need to do great work while enabling the business to move faster.

AALM: If you could go back and change anything about your career what would it be?

DS: I would not change a thing. Every choice and mistake I’ve made has shaped me and brought me to this point in my career. I would never wish them away, even some of those hard lessons learned.

AALM: What drew you to a legal career? How is your career different today than you envisioned in law school?

DS: I like solving things. The more complicated, colossal, and nebulous, the better. What I love most about this role is that to be successful requires a natural curiosity, a willingness to learn and understand of our business so that the legal advice and programs keep pace. This includes sorting through global laws and regulations; industry, customer and strategic intel; and the various viewpoints in support of company goals that take months and years to achieve. This engagement and preparation enables my team to contribute clarity, efficiency, and simplicity.

AALM: Can you tell us about your involvement with TechGC?

DS: TechGC changed the in-house legal landscape enabling in-house legal leaders, CLOs, GCs, Heads of Legal, DGCs and AGCs to become better leaders. In exchange for sharing your time, knowledge, and lessons learned, TechGC enables leaders to find their voice, grow professionally with the support of peers, and learn quickly on the job, individually and collectively. Hats off to the TechGC team!

AALM: What are some of your personal career goals? What’s the next milestone you’re looking to achieve?

DS: I want to be present wherever I am. If I’ve chosen to spend my time at a meeting, I should be there and not also multitasking email or other work. If I’ve powered down for the night to have dinner with my family, I need to be present for them at the dinner table. I want to be better at this – whatever I’ve chosen to do in the moment, I want to cut out the excess noise and show up there and only there.

AALM: Tell us about your life outside the office.

DS: My husband and I have two precious girls, Samantha and Charlotte, and they are the light of our lives. We also have a 130lb silver lab named Frank that has fancied himself their personal bodyguard. Our weekends are filled with cheerleading and karate and choosing a recipe to cook for dinner together where we shop together for the ingredients and each play a part in prepping and cooking, and dancing is involved in the kitchen. That’s my life outside the office right now!

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