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PayPal General Counsel Relishes Being Ahead of the Law

Louise Pentland joined PayPal in April as its new General Counsel responsible for PayPal’s compliance with financial and regulatory requirements around the world. And ensuring compliance given the pace of innovation at a company like PayPal is what drew her to the job, she said in a recent interview with The Recorder.

Pentland came to PayPal from Nokia where she was Chief Legal Officer, so in addition to her legal expertise, she has a strategic understanding of the mobile technology landscape.

Pentland opened up about what she was looking for in a company when she was looking for her next gig, and she praised PayPal CEO Dan Schulman for his vision and leadership as well as the culture at PayPal. “It was pretty instantaneous, the pull from PayPal and what it’s trying to create.”

The challenge with compliance, she explained, is that technology is often ahead of regulation. “When we had WiFi technology in my last company, it was 10 years before the regulators were thinking about how to regulate that in certain parts of the world, and that can be disastrous to your strategy if you’re 10 years into a business plan and then suddenly you get a curve ball.”

Pentland said PayPal has found “a very comfortable place to be with the regulators today” with its current products – “it’s more thinking about the future and how we ensure we continue to evolve in that space.”

That’s not to say everything has gone smoothly. Shortly after joining PayPal, Pentland had to deal with regulatory scrutiny over a so called robocall policy in its User Agreement that gave it the right to robocall or robo-text users at for any reason, from debt collecting to advertisements to opinion polling, an issue the interviewer did not raise.

Pentland explained that one way to stay ahead of the curve at an innovative company was to make sure she is plugged into the management decision cycle. Her leadership team is assigned to each of PayPal CEO’s direct reports and they assign their team members to sit on management teams. “I think the true value of an in-house lawyer is when they can see around corners and they can see what’s coming and they can get out ahead of it,” she told the Recorder.

“As a lawyer, being in an innovation environment where you’re often ahead of the law, it’s really fun. It’s challenging but it’s really fun.”

Pentland shared more in the interview, including the responsibility she feels to ensure diversity at PayPal. “Our company stands for diversity and inclusion in everything we do, in our workforce, in our products, in ensuring financial inclusion for the people in the 200-plus countries where we operate in today.” You can read more in The Recorder article.

Pentland also sits on the board of Hitachi.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.