Nadia Lazareva is a qualified lawyer with a background in risk management, Anti-Money Laundering, compliance, sanctions and reputational risk prevention. She has lived and worked in mainland China and Hong Kong since 2009 and has trained extensively in the areas noted above across Asia Pacific.
Legal Beagle: How did you get interested in the risk management, Anti-Money Laundering, compliance, sanctions and reputational risk prevention?
Nadia: I am a lawyer by background, and I have started my Compliance career in Due Diligence. My role has been gradually expanding, and I found myself conducting investigations into potential bribery & corruption and conflict of interest concerns. This helped me realize that I am passionate about fighting crime. This gives me a sense of purpose every day I come to work.
Legal Beagle: How did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now?
Nadia: I have always been good at going beyond the job description of every role. All of us at some point feel that we have hit the ceiling in our role and then we have two options – leave or ask for more work. Because I was lucky to be supported by great managers throughout my career, I have always been given an opportunity to do more, expand my role, and learn by doing. This has helped me to build a broad spectrum of knowledge in Compliance.
Legal Beagle: Did you have any mentors in your career and how have they influenced you?
Nadia: Absolutely. I have been lucky to work for people of the highest integrity, who were willing to give their teams space to be creative. To me, a great manager is someone who says “why not, let’s do it” when you come to them with an idea. Even if the idea does not work, they still let you try and learn from your own mistakes, whilst always having your back in case of failure.
Legal Beagle: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Nadia: “You always have something to contribute.” We operate in diverse teams in dynamic times, and each person at the table always has insights that others don’t. It is important to remember that you are that person, and speak up.
Legal Beagle: What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken in your career?
Nadia: I have left a team leader role with a smaller advisory firm, where I had great reputation and amazing colleagues, to join the risk team in a Magic Circle law firm at the most junior level. I have never regretted this choice because of how much this move has expanded my professional knowledge.
Legal Beagle: What are the key skills and experience required for a career like yours?
Nadia: Critical thinking. It is a skill that is difficult to develop, and without it you cannot analyze financial crime risk. It is also important to be able to articulate your thoughts in the language of the audience you are speaking to – being heard and understood within an organization is not always easy, but it is the key to success.
Legal Beagle: Of all your accomplishments, which are you most proud of?
Nadia: My Bachelor of Laws (English Common Law) degree with the University of London International Programmes. I have been studying part-time whilst working demanding jobs with 12-hour days. I would often go without carefree weekends and holidays for many months. The degree itself is challenging – about 50% of people attempting the degree quit within 1-2 years; many of those remaining are unable to pass the required courses and as a result only around 20% graduate. I wanted to quit on multiple occasions, been disappointed with my performance, but persevered. Nothing else in my career has cost me as much blood, sweat, and tears.
Legal Beagle: If you were to start your career journey again what would you do differently?
Nadia: That’s a brilliant question because only in answering it I realized that I would not have changed anything. Many of the things I did were unnecessary (I have two LLB and two LLM degrees), and I could have made smarter career moves. But my experience has shaped me into who I am today, and I am grateful for all the things I’ve learned along the way.
Legal Beagle: If you weren’t doing this what would have been your alternate career choice?
Nadia: I would still be fighting crime. I would have loved to work in law enforcement or the police.