Alanna Robinson

Legal Counsel, Hewlett Packard (Canada) Co

Bachelor of Journalism (Hons), Journalism and Sociology, 1999

Sometimes people don’t know what to make of me. It’s very different outside the Maritimes.

Sometimes when Alanna Robinson walks into a high level meeting – she’s legal counsel for Hewlett Packard Enterprise (Canada) Co – when she walks in she’ll just start chatting with whomever is there, building rapport, making connections, being friendly. Her cheerful demeanor and easy laugh can catch them off-guard.

“Sometimes people don’t know what to make of me,” she says. “It’s very different outside the Maritimes.”

They do know what to make of her skills however. Alanna works primarily on issues of privacy. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) provides IT systems and support for governments and companies in the health and financial sectors. So much of the information these organizations deal with is sensitive and personal. But privacy laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

“A big thing is where the information resides,” she explains. “The company is global but we have to make sure that an individual’s information stays in one country or one province. We do a lot of analyzing of different laws and making sure that the products being sold have all the processes in place so that we conform.”

Alanna works with the technical wizards to make sure that happens. But she also needs to understand the IT systems herself, the same way she had to understand the energy sector and environmental concerns when she worked with Nova Scotia Power, the same way she had to understand the financial and banking sectors and municipal development when she worked for the Halifax private law firm Wickwire Holm.

It has been a great career path for someone who loves to learn and loves problem solving. She unabashedly points to King’s as the place that gave her the tools she has needed.

“No matter what you do after King’s, the ability to analyze and think critically and not to assume so-called facts, to think deeply, to see where a notion was coming from, that has been invaluable.”

So too was the value of a good story that Alanna learned while getting her BJH. She has spent much of her career creating contracts. She knows that a legal contract can be a daunting document to digest. She knows a lot of them end up in drawers, hauled out only when there is a problem. But to her, a good contract is something special.

“It’s like a story…you’re telling the story of a relationship,” Alanna says. “And you’re explaining how it is going to work – what you’re going to give, what you’re going to take. And at the end, here is the big finale. My job is to go through and make sure we have the right protections built in to the story to allow them to keep going and get to the result they want.”

“They can be lifesavers,” she says. And oddly enough, lifesaving is Alanna’s other passion. She has organized swimming survival training for kids and for newcomers to Canada and has taught lifesaving techniques to staff at resorts in the Dominican Republic, a popular destination for Maritimers looking for winter warmth on white sand beaches.

Teaching these skills “has been rewarding” says Alanna. “I like helping.”

Posted: May 2016

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