Cregor Janssen: Pushing The Envelope Of Legal Leadership In The Digital Financial Realm

Cregor Janssen: Pushing The Envelope Of Legal Leadership In The Digital Financial Realm

Cregor Janssen , Head of Legal and Board Secretary

Cregor Janssen

Head of Legal and Board Secretary

Today, an ideal chief legal officer (CLO) is no longer just a legal advisor. Instead, he is a resourceful leader, adding greater value and empowering his company’s personnel to collectively stay competitive, complying, and relevant while making a difference in customers’ lives. Standing as a perfect example of the aforementioned persona is Cregor Janssen, a diligent strategist, an award-winning legal veteran, and a key growth catalyst behind Wio Bank, a pioneering digital bank based in Abu Dhabi Wio Bank, launched in 2022, aims to digitally assist SMEs, startups, and freelancers.

Backed by a multi-faceted c areer, Cregor h as s pearheaded a strategic change in such a revolutionary financial trailblazing company. He has been effective in enabling strong corporate governance and risk  management in banks, in turn amplifying an organization’s transparency and accountability. The following is an excerpt from an exclusive interview conducted by CEO Insights Asia with Cregor Janssen, which dwells deep about his personal as well as professional journeys, his personal interests, and about his approaches to delivering continual efficiency.

Could you give a brief account of your professional background and experiences?

Having studied in the Netherlands, I started my professional journey in private practice in the Netherlands and in the Dutch Caribbean, specializing in litigation and corporate law. I then returned back to Amsterdam, where I worked for a commodity trading firm. I was also an in-house legal counsel for ING Bank, handling its commodity trading and financial markets, with a focus on derivatives and other products where I worked in the major financial hubs. I was invited to join First  Abu Dhabi Bank , which also unlocked multiple growth opportunities in the region. For the last seven years, I have been working in the UAE as an in-house legal professional in diverse domains, covering banking, risk management, financial markets, retail, and corporate governance. I further went on to lead the legal department and have built new legal functions with the new team in addition to establishing corporate governance.

How did you overcome the major challenges you encountered initially while establishing yourself as a successful leader? What inspires and drives you today?

The technical complexities are not usually the major concern. Rather, it is finding smart ways to manage time, communications and people. It becomes imperative to give feedback when it is needed, escalate issues when needed, and structure your day. The key also lies in using the right tools for project management, communication, and productivity.  Additionally, everything is changing fast in terms of technology, markets, and the environment. The way we worked, the way we thought, and the way we ran legal functions a decade ago have become unrecognizable. These new developments keep me driven because I adapt, grow, and gain much more.

How do you keep yourself up-to-date with ongoing industry trends to steer your organization towards the future?

Every digital bank or fintech start-up that is often lean, smart, efficient, and constantly changing. To continue being ahead of the curve, we employ extensive networking. I also prefer to read books that are not necessarily legal. I have developed a keen interest in reading technical books on psychology, design or biographies of influential people and diplomats. Apart from that, smart communication also plays a vital role. Communicating and explaining all such complex legal developments to my team insimpler terms has helped us stay current.

Cregor has been effective in enabling strong corporate governance at Wio Bank, in turn amplifying the organization’s transparency & accountability

Tell us about your leadership approach. What are the guidelines or methodologies you follow as a leader?

My leadership style is collaborative coaching, which suits this environment and the current phase of the startup, which is continuously adapting. My approach is to assess first the personality type of the receiver, to some extent find out what is driving them, then adjust the messaging to that audience type.. Within teams, it is important to provide regular and honest feedback instead of conducting customary end-of-year team reviews. My feedback generally reflects on what went well, what did not, and what could be improved.

What is the future destination you are heading towards?

I believe in and seek to continue developing, from offering legal counsel to risk management to governance to achieving non-legal oversight. Rather than just sending an email about advice, I wish to execute it. I would like to strategize beyond legal decisions and see the organization as a whole to grow holistically. I also truly enjoy training talented Emirati lawyers starting their legal career to grow them to the next level and skill set.

Cregor Janssen, Head of Legal and Board Secretary, Wio Bank

An adaptive leader, Cregor holds versatile expertise in corporate law, commodity trading, finance, risk management, retail, and corporate governance. Prior to joining Wio Bank, he served in reputed organizations like ING Bank, Amsterdam, and the First Abu Dhabi Bank. While, professionally, he constantly looks forward to embracing new changes, personally, he likes to stay focused and active through sports like snowboarding, boxing, sailing, and surfing.  

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