Life at Goodnotes

Celebrating Women in Tech: Meet Nebahat (Nebs), Group General Counsel & Compliance Officer at Goodnotes

March 13, 2024

Curious to know what it’s like being a Group General Counsel at Goodnotes? As part two of our month-long celebration of International Women’s Day, we had a chat with Nebs about her legal career and her journey of making an impact as a woman in the legal tech space.

Hi Nebs! We can’t wait to learn about your legal experience and what it’s like being a General Counsel at Goodnotes! Can you tell us more about the journey that brought you here?

I am a qualified legal practitioner possessing Higher Rights of Audience, licensed to practice in England and Wales since 2011. A unique and inspiring experience in my childhood initiated my journey towards pursuing a career in law and technology. Growing up with an autistic brother, I observed how technology aided him in leading a better life and in receiving education in areas that were previously inaccessible due to his disability. This experience ignited my passion to explore the intersection of law and technology, leading me on an extraordinary professional development journey. My dedication to this field has kept me at the forefront of legal advancements and how technology has the power to transform the lives of people with disabilities, and I have always been dedicated to discovering innovative ways to make that happen.

Throughout my career, I have held various roles in private practice, working on commercial, technology transfer, and M&A projects worth millions. In 2015, I ventured into the in-house sphere, working with several esteemed organisations, including Babcock International PLC, OpenBet, Progility, and Pollinate. At Babcock, I worked on cutting-edge AI technology in their defence and civil divisions. At OpenBet, a subsidiary of Scientific Games, I worked on bespoke software development projects. Progility allowed me to work on a digital education platform, and Pollinate, a fast-growing fintech startup part of NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Mastercard, allowed me to gain further experience in this area. These experiences have enabled me better to understand the tech industry's complex legal landscape and equipped me with the necessary tools to navigate and overcome Goodnotes's challenges.

When an opportunity came to join Goodnotes, I didn't hesitate because of its strong commitment to using technology to improve people's lives. Millions of professionals and students use this software, making it a significant player in the corporate and academic worlds.As the Group General Counsel of Goodnotes, my role demands a combination of legal acumen, business expertise, risk management skills, and proactive problem-solving capabilities. My invaluable experience as Group General Counsel in the technology sector is indebted to my supportive network of allies and mentors, whose guidance and support enabled my growth and success in this field. I am thrilled to see the impact of our innovations on the world as we continually push the boundaries of what is possible. As an employee of a company that values ethical and responsible business practices, I am honoured to be entrusted with such a critical role.

When you were interviewing for new jobs, why did you choose to join Goodnotes?

At Goodnotes, users are valued above all else, and teamwork and collaboration are the keys to excellent customer service. The company's focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace leads to innovative solutions and better decision-making. My firm belief in these values and the quality of Goodnotes' products drew me to the organisation. As I developed the legal and compliance functions, I worked on some of my favourite legal areas, including privacy law, AI, commercial contracts, intellectual property, consumer protection, copyright, open source, and jurisdictional issues. As Goodnotes expanded globally, I was excited to lead the company in addressing crucial legal concerns, working alongside our LLM engineers to create unique AI features like handwritten recognition and spellcheck.

What questions would you suggest women in tech to ask when they are interviewing, in regards to diversity and inclusion?

In the realm of the technology industry, it is paramount for female professionals to be equipped to engage in discourse concerning diversity and inclusivity during their employment interviews. A query about diversity that I favour is: “Can you provide an instance of how you have supported the advancement and progression of women in your prior positions?” This will allow them to ascertain how these values align with their own and whether they will receive adequate support and inclusivity in the workplace. In addition, such inquiries demonstrate a genuine interest in promoting diversity and inclusion, which can be perceived favourably by potential employers.

Have you ever faced any challenges in the workplace as a woman? If so, how did you overcome it?

As a woman in the legal profession, I faced numerous challenges while working in private practice. However, I refused to let those challenges defeat me. With the help of a supportive network and allies, I found that anything is possible when you have determination and work hard towards your goals. In my experience, taking a constructive and professional approach can be quite effective in resolving issues. It is also helpful to build a supportive network of individuals who can assist me in navigating these challenges. Additionally, I have made a point of continually learning and staying up-to-date with industry trends, which has helped me enhance my skills and pursue opportunities for professional development.

When I moved to the in-house world as a lawyer, I was fortunate enough to have supportive allies who helped me grow in the workplace. Having allies made a significant difference in my professional journey. My managers supported me in leadership roles and encouraged me to sit at the top table with decision-makers. Even when I was the only female in the room, I used my position to promote women who did not have a voice to have visibility, and I created internal women's networks to support talent and find allies for underrepresented women.

I believe that promoting allyship in the workplace and engaging male allies in actively advocating for gender equality and women's advancement in the tech industry can foster a more diverse, inclusive, and supportive work environment that benefits everyone. Together, we can strive towards a future where women have equal opportunities to succeed professionally and the workplace is a place of genuine equality.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

As a legal professional, I am incredibly proud of my notable accomplishment - working on two cases in private practice that became part of the case law in England and Wales. It's incredible to know that other legal professionals and courts are now using my work as a guide in deciding similar cases. This achievement has fuelled my determination to pursue even more significant accomplishments in the legal field.

Have you found Goodnotes supportive when it comes to your growth and development?

Goodnotes is a company that significantly emphasises the values of diversity and inclusivity at the leadership level. Goodnotes’ commitment to promoting gender equality is evidenced by its support of women in obtaining critical experience in key roles, which is essential for both the development of their skill sets and the advancement of their careers. I have been fortunate enough to receive support from Goodnotes in advancing my professional career and to be one of the decision makers for my department. This support has been invaluable to my growth and continued success in my field as a lawyer and to lead my department. One of my favorite perks that Goodnotes offers is the “Learning and Development Budget”. This is a remarkable perk that inspires continuous skill acquisition and professional growth. This benefit is a testament to Goodnotes’ commitment to investing in its employees’ abilities and qualifications, thus fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between the organisation and the individual.

Goodnotes understands the importance of its employees having a healthy work-life balance. They try to help their employees in various ways, such as allowing parents to pick up their children from school by leaving work one or two hours earlier or adjusting their work hours. The company offers parental or maternal leave, which shows that it cares about the overall well-being of its employees.

Moreover, Goodnotes supports women’s charities, such as Women In AI. Goodnotes’ participation in such non-profit organisations underscores its devotion to empowering women and promoting gender equality.

What advice would you give other women wanting to reach their career goals in the tech industry?

To be a successful woman in tech, you must embrace new challenges and confidently take on uncharted territories. A willingness to engage in novel experiences is the key to personal and professional growth, enabling you to understand the technology industry and its emerging trends comprehensively. This, in turn, will empower you to make informed decisions, tackle problems, and stay ahead of the competition.

As a woman in tech, it is crucial to remain open-minded and receptive to new ideas, approaches, and perspectives. With a growth mindset, you can continually expand your knowledge and skill set, positioning yourself as an invaluable asset to any organisation. Additionally, actively seeking opportunities to learn and grow can help establish your credibility and build a solid professional reputation, leading to career advancement and success.

Who is a woman you admire/look up to or want to thank?

As a female lawyer from an ethnic background, I have always been inspired by trailblazing women who make a difference in the world. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of gender equality and civil liberties throughout her legal career, has left an indelible mark on the legal profession. Her tenacity, intelligence, and courageous advocacy for justice inspire me as a lawyer. I also draw inspiration from Sheryl Sandberg’s (COO of Meta Platforms until 2022) focus on empowering women in the workplace and her candidness about balancing family and career. Similarly, I admire Stephanie Boyce’s (she is the first female black president will be elected to lead The Law Society in England and Wales) commitment to excellence, leadership, and advocacy for diversity and inclusion is a testament to her remarkable achievements as a British solicitor and former President of the Law Society of England and Wales. And lastly, I feel inspired by my female colleagues at Goodnotes, who constantly motivate me uniquely. Their unwavering support for one another in pursuing their goals is truly admirable. Each has made a distinct contribution, and they have become my great allies at Goodnotes.

The theme of International Women’s day 2024 is ‘Inspire Inclusion’. How do you think Goodnotes inspires inclusion in the workplace?

Goodnotes is dedicated to promoting a culture of inclusivity in the workplace. By providing opportunities for professional development, flexible work arrangements, empowering workshops, and celebrating the achievements of female leaders, Goodnotes inspires its employees to reach their full potential and work collaboratively to achieve great things. Through these initiatives, Goodnotes is positively impacting its employees’ lives and fostering a supportive and respectful environment for everyone.

Can you see yourself working with Nebs?

See our openings here!

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