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Graham Lambert: A Year as HLK’s CEO

By Graham Lambert, CEO

This month is my first anniversary of becoming CEO of HLK, and it’s been a privilege and incredibly rewarding to take the helm. In celebration, I’m looking back and looking forward.

At the beginning of my time as CEO, we emerged from the lockdowns, where people had adapted to work differently. We focused on getting people out to meetings, conferences, talking to clients, and facilitating them back into our offices whilst retaining all of the benefits of hybrid working.

Although during COVID-19 our service didn’t skip a beat, it’s been essential to reintroduce face-to-face where possible as those in-person interactions are the glue between us, our people and our clients. It’s also meant that we can refocus on external opportunities and become more outward looking again.

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t learnt from the pandemic, and in fact we’ve grown and evolved our webinar offerings, particularly on the Unitary Patent Convention. We’ve been blown away by the uptake in attendance at those webinars and we’ve developed an impressive system to help clients as they transition into this new era of the Unitary Patent. And this area of thought leadership is something that will continue to develop.

What have I learnt as CEO?

The most important aspect of my role as CEO is a keen focus on people, whether that be our people, our clients’ people, or our suppliers’ people. People must come first. I continue to operate with the philosophy that we are in business because of our amazing people and the incredible value that they deliver for our clients who are world leaders in developing new technology and brand equity. I want our people to have rewarding careers, and to have opportunities for continual growth, so that they are the best version of themselves and constantly push the client-service envelope.

It’s easy to be blinkered about a particular sector, so it’s essential to be open, to look outwards, and to talk to people in other industries. Using the network around me, looking at other sectors and seeing what they do or don’t do well has given me fresh perspectives and ideas; it’s incredibly valuable.

Achievements in the last 12 months

I’m proud to have been part of the amazing achievements HLK has had this year. The move to our new office in Bristol has proved inspirational for our people, it’s facilitated an uptake returning to the office, and we’ve had some great feedback.

Another obvious achievement for the firm was that it was again named one of Europe’s leading patent law firms by the Financial Times in 2022 and was one of only three European firms to receive a gold citation in every category.

And in other brilliant firm (and sector) news, HLK’s Partner Daniel Chew became the first Asian president of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.

Being people-focused is key and, as a result, HLK retained its enthusiasm and togetherness both through and following the pandemic. We’ve regained momentum and rediscovered our optimism and confidence. There’s real energy flowing through the firm once again following the trials of COVID-19 and Brexit. And everybody is behind the vision.

What will the future look like for HLK?

Organisations across the world are facing a highly inflationary environment, and we’re navigating the challenges that it presents. Many businesses are working against a backdrop of a previous sustained low inflationary environment and are struggling to manage and adapt when prices are so volatile.

For HLK, it’s important to stay grounded rather than reactive in these conditions. We have a clear strategy, and we continue to use it to inform our decision-making, remaining focused on the long-term sustainability of what we do and how we act with people, so we can continue investing in our services and people going forward.

There will be many opportunities for us and our clients to thrive in the future. We’ll continue to develop our services and work on our strategic plan, and we’re refreshing our team’s business plans in line with that strategy for the next 12 months, as well as strengthening our board through the development of our people.

Overall, it’s been a fantastic year for me and HLK. There’s huge potential out there, and I’m looking forward to leading the business on the next stage of our journey in the wonderful world of innovation in which we operate.

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