Pinterest’s Rori Robison believes in the power of conversations. To the assistant general counsel, conversations enable efficiency, transparency, and understanding. She leads with an attitude of putting people first, in every sense, and conversations bolster that.
“One of the things I stress with everyone on our team is to communicate regularly and be transparent,” Robison explains. “If we have a business partner that is frustrated with an experience, let’s reach out and figure out why. Don’t ignore the problem—communicate, reach out, and be that bridge.”
With her belief in communication and putting people first, Robison has been successful in leading her team as it works to align with the scale Pinterest is growing at. “We’re growing really fast. We are constantly asking ourselves how do we implement things that make whatever we’re doing down the line better for our users, better for our business partners, and allow us to really keep moving with velocity and doing really good work,” she says.
Robison has worked as in-house counsel before but in her current role at Pinterest, “the focus on scale is different than what I’ve had in previous roles; it is a real pivot,” she says. “I’ve pulled up to a higher-level view, there’s so much more than just negotiating a deal that’s necessary for our team to be successful and it’s been really fun to explore those.”
A people-first approach doesn’t just apply to organizational communication. Robison encourages her team to find a balance with work while still growing. “One of our favorite sayings is ‘win or learn,’” she says. “We regularly discuss what enables us to push ourselves or take chances on things without being afraid to fail. Then we attempt to build in the space and ability to do those things.”
To ensure Pinterest can continue to grow at the rate its headed, Robison recognizes the impact cross-functional work can have on efficiency. She explains that it’s crucial that every team have the tools, trainings, software, and services that they require to do their jobs in the best possible way.
Robison also works to guarantee that collaboration involves every member of her team. “The more transparent that we are with one another enables us to understand we’re working toward the same goal,” she says.
The assistant general counsel is implementing new workflows in existing tools to continue to align legal as partners in the procurement process. She explains that this allows all cross-functional stakeholders the ability to work with one workflow to perform their deal reviews and approvals.
“The process should be the same for all of our business partners, which allows an understanding of the expectations and what the process looks like, how long it takes, who to go to with questions, etc.,” Robison explains. “We’ve written standard operating procedures for our most leveraged processes so we’re consistent in our approach. When someone contacts us to help with something, or to start the process they should have a consistent experience.”
Robison’s team recently rolled out a new automated workflow for non-disclosure agreements. “We want to make sure that our business partners, who are under tight timelines to engage vendors or have some sort of strategic discussion, can do that quickly.”
While ensuring efficiency and cross-functional communication, Robison is also focused on making sure her team is still reaching work/life balance, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. “People as a whole were burning out,” she says. “It was just too much. There was no delineation between work and home. When people are happier, you see them enjoying their jobs, you see them wanting to take more on, because there is some balance.”
“Rori is an extremely smart, experienced and practical attorney. She has an excellent approach to visualizing global solutions to the cutting edge issues she is confronted with. Above all, she is lovely to work with and we’re really pleased to partner with her.”
–John Groom, Senior Associate