This month we shine the spotlight on Rowena Kay, senior associate in our employment and immigration team in Cheltenham. She explains her background in tech and why Cheltenham is the place for her.
Rowena has been a solicitor for fifteen years and helps a wide variety of clients with their employment issues. She said: “I provide employment law advice to commercial clients. I focus on advising employers of all sizes on their workplace issues and projects. Those can range from implementing new commission plans, to supporting redundancy processes, to helping to exit an underperforming CEO – and then negotiating the contract for her replacement.”
Rowena also specialises in transactional advice, advising both companies and investors on the employment aspects of investments and sales. “I’m sometimes considered a bit odd for an employment lawyer because I love working on transactional work,” she said, “I find the common goal really motivating.”
Her career has evolved over the years. When training as a solicitor, Rowena helped a number of US brand-name tech companies set up their first UK offices. “That really ignited my passion for working with the tech sector,” she said. “I love the clients and their passion for what they do, and I am endlessly fascinated by the pace of change in the sector.”
Like many professionals, having children led to the need for a better work/life balance. Moving to Cheltenham provided further opportunities to work with the tech sector.
“The stars aligned because when I went back to work and joined HCR in 2019, Cheltenham was going through a huge development stage with its tech and cyber businesses.
“GCHQ has made it an obvious choice for tech and cyber businesses to make their homes, and Gloucestershire now has the largest cluster of cyber related businesses outside London. We have also very recently been designated a ‘High-Potential Opportunity’ area for the sector, which will showcase us to a global audience.”
Her top tip for clients? Make sure you own your intellectual property. Many clients have great ideas and solutions or products whose potential investor then discovers they don’t own key elements of their idea. Getting decent contracts in place is vital.
The best thing about working in Cheltenham, she says, is that “our status as a tech and cyber cluster gives the opportunity to work with amazing people. We get to support great organisations like Cynam and Hub8 – the economic potential of the area is hugely exciting.
“We have Cheltenham Festivals on our doorstep, and work is being done by the both the festival teams and the tech community to weave those closer together and leverage the power of culture in business.
And at a personal level, I live 10 minutes from my office, and I lose none of my home life to commuting. That took 2.5 hours round trip in London.”