International Corporate Attorney
With 2 law degrees, 20 years of Corporate Legal Work across several jurisdictions, and several Global honours, it is easy to gauge why the charismatic Shalinee Fernandez is ranked among the ‘Women Icon of the Year’.
Shalinee has achieved tremendous success in the global arena, yet incredulously, her journey began in the small island of Penang in northern Peninsular Malaysia. She grew up in a town called Kulim, Kedah, and is a 3rd generation Indian of Malayalee and Tamil heritage. Her father Edwin Fernandez was a mechanical engineer as well as a brilliant musician by ear while her mother was trained as a corporate secretary. Growing up with a younger sister, she was “grateful for a supportive family especially my grandparents who enabled me to reach where I am today.”
In 1999, Shalinee completed her LLB (Hons) from the University of London. In 2001, she received her Certificate in Legal Practice (Post Degree Qualification), went on to do her chambering, and was admitted to the Malaysian Bar in 2002. She completed her Australian law degree in 2020 and is now completing her Practical Legal Training to get admitted as a solicitor in New South Wales, Australia. “For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a lawyer. This stemmed from the fact that I felt very strongly against any sort of injustice and the notion that I had to do whatever I could to protect the lesser privileged or those not in a position to speak for themselves,” she reminisces.
Shalinee began her career as a litigation lawyer for 5 years before transitioning to the Malaysian Stock Exchange as part of the regulatory team. She then moved as an in-house counsel for Malaysian listed companies and eventually, multinationals. Garnering legal experience across 2 very niche industries of ICT and Manufacturing, her key successes comprise – negotiating large contracts with the Australian government including GovNext-ICT in Western Australia, Ministry of Defence Oman, and Commonwealth Games 2018 in Brisbane, Australia.
Always on a quest to learn and explore, Shalinee moved to India in 2017 wherein she joined the ride share company OLA and led its international legal team, helping the company expand in Australia, New Zealand and UK.
She returned to Malaysia in 2019 and presently, she’s the Senior Legal Counsel for Global Operations at ANSELL – an Australian listed multinational in the personal protective equipment space. Handling a high pressure hands-on role in global operations is challenging and requires a high degree of focus and mental strength. “Being an in-house counsel, I sit very close to the business. I feel this is where in-house lawyers differ greatly from practicing lawyers as we will be able to understand business acumen better.”
Her vast knowledge and varied experience has seen Shalinee emerge a powerful Speaker in the legal community. A sought after orator, she was invited as the Guest Speaker on My Learned Friend Series for the UK and Ireland Malaysia Law Students Union; International Guest Lecturer at ICFAI Dehradun; Panelist Speaker on Women Empowerment at Lextalk World Conference in Dubai; and Keynote Speaker – Legal Excellence – Organized by Marcus Evans.
Multi-faceted Shalinee is also passionate about animal rights and charitable work, and is an Advisory Board Member of Kartavyam, a Delhi based NGO. “Today I feel I’m in a position to do more for not only myself, but also my community and the society, and I think this trait will stay throughout,” she opines.
Aptly named ‘Women Icon of the Year 2021’ by Times Women, Shalinee has been the recipient of innumerable honours: Global In-House Counsel of the Year 2022 Award at LexTalk World Conference, Dubai; Featured as ‘Successful People in Malaysia 2021’ in the 3rd Edition of an encyclopedia published by Britishpedia Media; Member of the Indian Women History Museum, among others.
How does she achieve the insurmountable, we can’t help but ask her? To which she replies, “Failing to plan is planning to fail. Determination and perseverance have always gotten me through the toughest of times. Make your existence count, do whatever you can in your capacity to make the world a better place. Always be ethical no matter what situation life presents you with and never be complacent as is the beginning to an end.
Eventually, it all boils down to discipline. Everything is achievable if you learn how to prioritise and take things one step at a time. I try to be present and give my all in the moment but it is important to draw boundaries and maintain equilibrium. I ensure I have a cut off time for myself to rest and recuperate. Health is paramount as we only have 1 vessel to live in.”