Gabriella Sainsbury is an experienced Corporate and Commercial Lawyer at Sparke Helmore Lawyers. She has a thirst for learning and technical development, as demonstrated by her Master of Laws (Commercial Transactions) and graduation from the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Competing from a young age at a national level in two sports (and still playing at a national level today) has given Gabriella the critical soft skills to lead, manage and perform well under pressure in her various roles. She, like her colleagues at Sparke Helmore Lawyers, has a client first approach.
- What career path led you to where you are today?
Surprisingly I think it was my involvement in sport that led me to practice as a Corporate and Commercial Lawyer. I think it was the opportunities that I was given early in my career that stems from being involved in the sporting industry. I was able to develop skills, soft skills, teamwork, leadership, etcetera, in the sporting industry from my involvement as an elite athlete and also in my role in governance and sporting administration.
Naturally I did pick up the academic milestones that you need to be a lawyer, including a degree in finance and a degree in law, and then I also completed a masters of law and graduated from the Australian Institute of Company Directors. However, I really think it was the relationships, the valuable connections that I’ve built, and the skills that I developed in the sporting industry that have led me to a great role at Sparke Helmore as a Corporate and Commercial Lawyer.
- What motivates and drives you?
I think I’m an intrinsically competitive person and a strong believer that there is always room for self-improvement, no matter what part of my career I’m at. I think that desire to continually evolve has led me to seek out new challenges and opportunities to self-improve, and I think that crosses over from my personal life to my professional life in setting and assessing goals along the way in my career.
- What has been your biggest learning curve in your career?
I think the biggest learning curve in my career would have to be dealing with uncertainty, getting comfortable with it and taking measured action despite the uncertainty. I think that whether I’m making decisions about my career path or providing advice to clients or making decisions in the boardroom, there’s always a level of uncertainty about the uncontrollable. Getting comfortable, focusing on controlling the controllable, what you can manage, and then asking the really hard questions about the unknowns and unknowable allows you to kind of find solutions to the challenges that are thrown your way.
- Where would you like to be in 10 years?
In ten years’ time I’d like to see myself obviously evolved from where I am now. At the moment I’m lucky enough to be able to help clients on a day-to-day basis through their periods of change and uncertainty by finding legal solutions to their commercial challenges. I think the next ten years presents an opportunity to continue this, fulfilling a role of helping clients in that way, but also seeking out as many opportunities as I can to self-improve, gain more experience and self-develop.
So, in ten years’ time, I’d like to be in a position where I can continue to contribute to organisations at a board level as well as help clients and contribute to the community where I can.
- Have you had any significant Hunter-based mentors during your career who inspire you?
I’ve been lucky enough to have a number of really significant people that I’ve come across in my career who I’ve learned a lot from, along with the people that I work with at Sparke Helmore and some really strong and incredible senior partners that I’ve been lucky enough to work with. The people that have inspired me the most have been the ones that have unwavering integrity in what they do, have relentless work ethic, and are really generous with their time. I think those types of people are the greatest role models and they tend to be more inclined to give really constructive feedback to help you develop as a person. And then they’re also really generous with the time that they give to you.
I’ve been lucky enough, as I said, to have a number of people in my life who I’ve drawn a lot from and learnt a lot from just by observing them, but one person that springs to mind when I think about those values is someone that I’ve been lucky enough to work with Professor Bernie Curran. Bernie’s an esteemed academic at the university and is highly regarded in his field. He has been great to work alongside and observe, and has really been a great role model to show me the power of rhetoric to inspire change in others.
We’ve come a long way since our doors first opened in the Hunter in 1882. We’ve had an office in Sydney since the ‘60s and we recently opened our ninth office in Darwin.
We cover five key areas of law – Corporate & Commercial, Commercial Insurance, Government, Statutory Lines of Insurance and Workplace – with more than 30 specialised areas of expertise. We’re a truly national, full service and proudly Australian firm that delivers results through deep collaboration with our clients. Wherever our clients need us, that’s where we’ll be.
Covering a big country needs a big team—we’re more than 900 people now and still growing. And in true Australian spirit, we’re friendly, approachable and easy to work with. And when you work with one of us, you get the expertise of all of us.