The Museum of the Future in Dubai is an architectural feat and technological triumph where visitors explore interactive, futuristic exhibits showcasing the possibilities of the forthcoming decades. Dozens of international employees from AVI-SPL, the world’s largest provider of collaboration technology solutions, came together to make these multisensory experiences possible. Lauren Mastro, vice president of legal, is one of them.
“Seeing the end project was pretty incredible,” Mastro says. “It’s amazing what our employees are able to do.”
Mastro enjoys both these big-ticket deals and experiences and the typical rhythms of her day-to-day—reviewing and updating contracts, discussing risks and solutions with executives, managing outside litigation, updating policies and procedures, and protecting AVI-SPL’s intellectual property—which keep the video technology company on track and looking forward.
AVI-SPL sits at the crossroads of a somewhat undefined industry. It is not quite construction, not entirely audiovisual. Thus, putting Mastro’s JD into practice was not just a plug-and-play situation. She ultimately needed to create a new schema for navigating the legal world in such a unique area. “There’s really no formal training that you can do other than just diving in and learning hands on.”
Her bosses and colleagues were integral in making that dive successful, she says, and in helping her build a critical base of knowledge. They were a support system that she encourages all young professionals to search for and establish.
“I think the mentorship piece of it is really key in such a niche industry that changes a lot,” she says. “I know if I didn’t have the foundation I was given many years ago, it would be a lot more difficult now.”
Standing in a sort of middle ground is something Mastro enjoys, not only in regard to the industry and company but also in regard to her job.
“I like the fact that what I do is not strictly legal,” she says. “There is a lot of business acumen that you have to develop in order to protect IP and partnerships while also making sure the customer feels satisfied with the results.”
Perfecting that balance has no doubt played a role in the rapid expansion of AVI-SPL financially and geographically. Mastro estimates that when she started at the company more than a decade ago, AVI-SPL was making around $500 million a year, and she says they are now on pace for around $1.3 billion. Dubai is just one of many new international offices, including those in Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, and Ireland.
Of course, with more offices come more employees, whom Mastro brings into the fold. She leads her growing team by stepping back so they have the opportunity to step up. Clear communication and maintaining high expectations are tenets of her leadership philosophy.
“I know they’re on my team for a reason. I know they have the skill set to do very well in their job,” she notes. But while she makes it clear that she is there to support her team, she also stresses that neither hand-holding nor yelling is beneficial for anyone.
“It’s not going to be good for me, and it’s not good for you if I have to micromanage and be over your shoulder the whole time,” Mastro tells them.
It’s not necessarily intuitive for the VP to lead in this way. The self-described type A attorney says she learned to loosen the reins by leaning on her experience as a tennis player and captain growing up and in college.
“I took a lot of what I learned on the tennis court and have utilized it in my professional career,” she says. “I’ve learned to recognize the strengths some people have and put them forward, as well as the weaknesses that others have and help them improve.”
So when one person is a wiz at SharePoint and another has a keen handle on tax law, she lets their skills shine. And when someone needs a hand, she is quick to lend one.
It also doesn’t hurt to have the kind of colleagues Mastro has. At time of speaking, Mastro was a week away from her wedding and feeling nervous. These weren’t prenuptial nerves, she says, but rather an uncertainty about what it would look like to be away from AVI-SPL for the longest time in her tenure. But what eases that tension, she explains, and what will make it easier to unplug, is being surrounded by people she can trust. “I’m fortunate enough that I have those people,” she says.