How legal can be part of innovation

Carbonite's GC outlines how a start-up mentality keeps legal focused

When Danielle Sheer started at Carbonite, the cloud services provider was still very much a start-up with IPO dreams. Those early years were about building a well-oiled corporate machine, without disrupting the innovation engine. Now ten years in, the legal department is still employing start-up-like innovation to support the growing company.

Spotlight On: SaaSy

Sheer cofounded a group at Carbonite called SaaSy, which aims to empower women to take hold of leadership positions in the tech industry. Members and those connected to the organization share how it has benefited them personally and professionally.

“Being involved with SaaSy was a great experience. It allowed me to develop a great bond with the other female leaders at Carbonite, which improved my confidence and contributed greatly to my success as a leader in the organization. I was able to share my experiences as a working mother and support younger women who were doing the same. I think there is a true power in women helping women in the workplace. Being a little bit vulnerable in talking openly about challenges we face really allows for growth and development, and SaaSy provided a
forum for those discussions.” —Kim Rose, VP, Program Management and Execution

“Danielle has been an advocate for women’s leadership throughout her career. With the founding of SaaSy, she created an opportunity for both women
and men at Carbonite to have better visibility into the value of investing in women in the workplace, particularly in the high-tech sector.” —Cassandra Hudson, VP of Finance and CFO

Modern Counsel: What is Carbonite’s global strategy, and how does its culture reflect that?

Danielle Sheer: At Carbonite, we believe in finding smart, simple solutions to problems. Our culture reflects that in everything we do—whether it’s our approach to negotiating customer contracts, expanding internationally, or building the next cool new tech solution for our customers. Our global expansion strategy took Carbonite to Germany last year; we hand-selected a team in Munich and acquired a start-up team in Viersen. Germany is leading the world in data security and privacy practices, and Carbonite is working to instill that security discipline and innovation in the United States.

MC: Despite being ten years old, Carbonite has maintained some start-up qualities. What are they, and why are they beneficial?

DS: We have a work hard, play hard mentality. The idea of work-life balance has blurred with the advancement of technology and the reality of being available anytime, anywhere. At Carbonite, we actually find that liberating. You want to coach your kid’s T-ball team? You should. The reason we work so hard is for our families, and that time is important. At the same time, we all feel ownership in our results and a great responsibility to each other for the team’s and the company’s success. We believe finding your own balance is key to superior performance.

MC: How does the legal department support company culture?

DS: Legal is the place you go when you want to get something done. We enable the business to move smarter and faster. The legal team is uniquely qualified to think about complex issues, analyze opportunities from a 360-degree perspective, and design unique solutions. We then connect with our business colleagues to provide them optionality, backup, and resources.

MC: How have you collaborated with other business functions to achieve a unified culture?

DS: In order for the legal team to be successful, we’ve built relationships with engineers, support professionals, accountants, the sales team, everyone. We work hard to strengthen these relationships by creating and maintaining cross-functional teams and, sometimes, by partnering with the business on opportunities no one else has time to hunt down. We also spend time thinking about how to perfect the flow of communication to all employees and to all of our offices globally.