The Uncharted Course

Parallels associate general counsel Nancy Norton’s days are unpredictable, but she knows the international nature of her work will always be rewarding

Nancy Norton always knew she was destined for an international career. Her love of travel and interest in other cultures started early when her father took her to Ireland to visit relatives. “I became enamored with other countries when I was quite young,” she says, “and I knew I wanted to be in business.” She sought out opportunities to travel, learned another language, and pursued degrees that would allow her to build a career in international law. Now, Norton is the vice president and associate general counsel at Parallels, and she spends much of her time focusing on a wide variety of international business issues.

Parallels and its Odin brand are global leaders in cross-platform solutions and cloud services enabling. As in-house counsel, Norton enjoys that her position entails something different each day. “My schedule is never predictable, every day I am working on something completely different.”

Embracing unpredictability is practically natural for Norton. She has recently found herself juggling negotiating an enterprise licensing deal in Brazil, managing a trademark issue in the Philippines, drafting a strategic partnership agreement in China, and resolving a finance matter in Greece.

The most practical issue for Norton is simply the time of day. She admits that it can be trying to align the business needs with multiple time zones. Based in Seattle, Norton recently negotiated a deal where the Parallels sales team was in Singapore and the customer was in Mumbai. Since she always defers to the customer’s schedule and because the sales team wanted to close the deal by year-end, Norton spent six weeks on negotiation calls starting at 2 a.m.

She is online at 4 a.m. every day in order to reply to e-mails that have come in overnight and need a response before the day ends in one of the Parallels offices around the world. Norton also takes part in a weekly call at 6 a.m. with her team in Germany and Russia, and she often responds to urgent calls for pressing matters late at night in order to accommodate her colleagues in distant time zones. Though it might be a minor inconvenience for her (and it recently interrupted a concert she was attending in Seattle), Norton considers it just part of her job. “I don’t sleep very much, so I guess I’m well-suited for the demands of the job,” she notes with a laugh.

With a busy and ever-changing schedule, Norton has one activity that keeps her focused: running. Almost every day at lunchtime Norton can be found running along a river near Parallels’ office. She says running helps to clear her head, relieve stress, and allows her to bond with colleagues since she often recruits employees from Parallels to run with her.

In addition, when she travels to a new country, the first thing Norton does upon arriving is go for a run. “Running helps me combat jet lag and allows me to explore the city before I spend the next few days sitting in a conference room.” Norton recently ran in Munich and London and plans to run a half marathon in Sydney.

“My interest in international law and business have merged together to get me where I am today,” says Norton. “I’m very fortunate because I love what I do.”