In this episode of Leaders with Ambition, Nicky’s guest, Rippan Vig, Director of Client & Strategic Development at Watson Farley & Williams, shares her fascinating career journey that demonstrates the fluid way in which careers can evolve.
Rippan has taken her law degree and related skills in unanticipated directions.
How has she done it? By staying open, being authentic and bringing her best self to every professional scenario. She has successfully navigated two careers in different sectors (legal and finance), all the while acquiring skill sets that were complementary to both.
By tuning in to her affinity for business development, marketing and client relationships, Rippan was able to forge her own career path and today enjoys a workplace culture that fosters openness and supports her leadership style.
Tune in to learn more about the key elements that have shaped Rippan’s career trajectory and that could positively impact your own.
Rippan knew early on that she wanted to live in a big city, initially working at the stock exchange at just age 16. She later studied economics. secured a degree in law and began to practice.
A next step
Watson Farley & Williams was on paper a big leap – pushing Rippan into an entirely different level of law practice. However, due to the firm’s culture, she found the transition pleasant and seamless.
Friends along the way
Rippan’s entire life has been influenced by the friends she has made throughout her career, creating a strong support network, not just professionally, but for every aspect of life.
Business development & strategy
Simultaneous with her career growth, Rippan discovered a natural affinity for the business side of law and was ahead of the curve in terms of awareness in the profession of just how important it is to have a commercial outlook and to understand partnering.
The path ahead
There was no single moment, but as Rippan was progressing through different roles and different jobs in the business and real estate development sectors, her portfolio of skills grew and diversified. Her job description evolved to suit Rippan’s unique skill set and commercial outlook.
A high-profile role
Stepping into a leadership role during times of stress, as was the case when Rippan was promoted at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, requires a steady hand as such periods are often fraught with blame and recrimination.
Back to legal
Returning to her former home at Watson Farley & Williams after 10 years at other firms, Rippan wasn’t sure how she would be received. Would her role promoting business development and client relationships be embraced? The answer was a resounding “yes,” which she attributes to the firm’s open, supportive culture.
The quality of her peers and colleagues is what keeps Rippan engaged and satisfied with her work on a daily basis. The ability to work as a team, harmoniously and efficiently executing on goals, is not something she ever takes for granted. The end result? Huge strides forward for the firm in the realm of business development generally.
Rippan’s first order of business was establishing her role and securing Partner buy-in. The fact that she was a lawyer was likely a positive in that she understood the practice of law from the inside.
What next for BD & Marketing?
In Rippan’s view, the pandemic has offered some huge opportunities. Digital will play an ever-expanding role in professional services marketing as a means to build relationships. Changing workplace conditions (including hybrid adaptations) offer a great opportunity for professional services marketers to take on a more strategic role as advisers to the Partners with whom they work.
Paying it forward
Over the course of her career, Rippan has been fortunate to have had some very strong female mentors. They have helped her understand the balance (and constant rebalancing) of career development, work and personal life, which has been enormously gratifying and helpful.
Now that she has reached the senior levels of her career, Rippan is available to mentor women coming up through the ranks today.
Opportunities for mentoring between people of different levels of seniority foster the sharing of important information and experience and also encourage diverse and inclusive points of view.
It’s hard to top having enjoyed two full careers in separate spheres with overlapping professional development. Rippan has been consistently engaged and excited by her learning curve and workplace environments.
No major catastrophes, Rippan is happy to report. But each role that she has undertaken has brought its own set of trials. A positive mindset has been her best tool for combatting circumstances that might otherwise feel overwhelming.
Bringing your best self to work
A combination of diligence, a strong work ethic and a positive, can-do frame of mind have been a winning combination for Rippan. It makes obstacles surmountable and the day-to-day an opportunity to thrive.
Words of wisdom
It’s okay to try different things and have lots of ideas about what you want to do professionally. Rippan thinks that valuing our own abilities and skills and recognising that they are transferrable is important. An open mind brings opportunity.
“In many ways it wasn’t a big step (into Watson Farley & Williams) at all and that’s a testament to the firm … It was a very close-knit, very collegial atmosphere.”
“Having that network around you, people you can talk to and talk things over with, is very important.”
“The common theme with my appraisals was my commercial outlook, always being invested in client relationships.”
“On many levels coming back (to Watson Farley & Williams) in a business role, there was a process. How am I actually going to be treated? How is this going to work?”
“The most positive thing for me is the people that I work with. That for me is the thing that keeps me coming back – having a great team, a set of colleagues and peers that I’m very close with and can interact with in a supportive culture.”
“There’s a growing need for marketing to be joined up across traditional BD, marketing and comms. If we can think strategically and present holistic value propositions, with clear ways to measure success, I really do think that professional services marketers can lead the development of their firms.”
“The piece that is starting to come up more now, which I really think is beneficial, is reverse mentoring. Because what I’ve learned from my team is immense. I’m all for that, because you never stop learning.”
“I do have a very strong work ethic. It’s important to work hard, it’s important to be smart about the way you work and certainly always showing up – and showing up the best that you can – makes a huge difference.”
“A lot of people get stuck and think, ‘Well, I can’t actually do anything else because I’m only trained to do this, to be a lawyer, so that’s all I can do.’ And that certainly isn’t the case.”
“Being open to possibilities is certainly going to bring more opportunities.”
“If you show up, be authentic and bring your best self, then you can certainly be the best.”
About Rippan Vig
Rippan is responsible for developing, evaluating, communicating and executing firm strategy at Watson Farley & Williams. Working closely with the Managing Partners and senior leadership team, her role centres around cultivating a client-centric culture and identifying integration opportunities across their worldwide network of offices, and working with relevant stakeholders to adopt practices to meet the firm's key priorities.
About the host, Nicky Acuna Ocana
Nicky Acuna Ocana has led high performing recruitment teams for over 20 years. As the Managing Director of Ambition UK, she currently leads a team of highly-skilled recruitment consultants who are experts in their niche specialist areas. With an extensive network of senior and board-level contacts, she is also heavily involved in Executive Search, focusing on Director level appointments across Business Services for a range of Professional Services firms.
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