Sukhnaa Chhabra: Reshaping Legal Practices Via Innovative Tools | CEOInsights Vendor
Sukhnaa Chhabra: Reshaping Legal Practices Via Innovative Tools

Sukhnaa Chhabra: Reshaping Legal Practices Via Innovative Tools

Sukhnaa Chhabra,  Head - Legal & Compliance

Sukhnaa Chhabra

Head - Legal & Compliance

The financial industry is experiencing a rapid transformation, driven by modern technologies. It's moving away from traditional practices to streamline operations, adhere to compliance standards, enhance efficiency, and provide more client-centric services. The legal leaders in the financial industry acknowledge the importance of technology and support these changes to improve strategic decision-making and better serve their clients.

Sukhnaa Chhabra stands at the forefront of this evolving fintech landscape. With a rich background in intellectual property law and a keen interest in technology, Sukhnaa has navigated various sectors within the legal domain. As the Head of Legal & Compliance at Unlimit India, Sukhnaa is poised to lead the charge in aligning legal strategies with technological advancements, ensuring compliance, supporting business operations, and helping businesses navigate legal boun-daries.

In this interview with CEO Insights Asia, Sukhnaa shares her thoughts on professional experience and the journey ahead.

Could you give a brief background to your professional journey?

My love for the legal industry stems from my personal experiences in life. It all began at the age of 3 when I lost my father. The complexities of legal disputes one saw during those early years and the interaction with attorneys one had as teens ignited passion for law. This experience thrust me to embark on the pursuit of a law degree at ILS Law College, Pune.

While my initial interest was criminal and civil law, over my professional career post-LLM, working with top law firms my passion for technology and IP navigated me towards the FinTech sphere. At PAYU Payments, I spearheaded the establishment of cross-border payments, BBPOU, and banking services – working closely with my mentor, Sheetal Kapur.

My true tryst with leadership came
during my time at MPL Group as Head of Payments. This was a game changer for me as it helped me sharpen my leadership skills while adding a deep understanding of innovative product structuring and Web3 payments landscape to a well-rounded Web2 payments understanding.

As a Head of Legal & Compliance, Unlimit India, my goal is to provide direction on legal and regulatory matters in order to minimize risks while enabling business growth. My objective is to build a culture where legal compliance becomes a facilitator, not a hindrance, in achieving business goals.

My objective is to build a culture where legal team becomes a facilitator, not a hindrance, in achieving business goals

Could you shed light on Unlimit and its offerings?

Unlimit is a global payment solution provider dedicated to eliminating financial borders for businesses all over the world. Established in 2009, Unlimit operates in over 15 countries today, offering varied payment solutions. In India, our focus, at present, is on the Payment Aggregator business for which I am happy to inform you that we’ve received initial approval from the RBI.

We, Unlimit India, aim to kick-start Payment Aggregator operations in the coming year, expanding thereby into cross-border payments due to our substantial international presence. What sets us apart from many of our peers is our strong presence across major Indian export-import corridors like the EU, US, Japan, and more This would enable seamless payments for merchants in India and abroad – an activity still considered cumber-some by many merchants.

How do you stay updated with the current industry trends?

Staying informed involves multiple aspects. It is crucial for legal leadership to remain well versed with the happenings in the regulatory landscape – especially in a dynamic one like ours.

When it comes to innovative practices the rigor becomes a bit more demanding. One can’t depend on communal knowledge alone but must dive deep into all permutations and combinations to arrive at a cohesive understanding. For
example, during my tenure overseeing payments for the entire MPL group, we ventured into web3 gaming, a novel niche. Notably, there were no established industry standards or guide lines, neither by the government nor by any other market participant. Such a situation necessitated constant vigilance regarding evolving laws which may even have an indirect impact on business – many times resorting to observing global trends for cues on what may happen here at home.

What were the primary challenges in the legal domain and how did you address these challenges?

As an in-house lawyer, one of the significant hurdles I encountered in the past was changing the perception that legal teams exist solely as a barrier rather than a facilitator of organizational success. Our aim is to enable the creation of more sustainable products that benefit the business in the long term without being overweight on risk. The legal team’s goal is to ensure the company operates within legal compliance frameworks while fostering growth, not to say ‘no’ as perceived by many and this perception, per me, has been a key challenge to surmount for all legal leaders.

As a leader in the legal field, what advice would you offer to aspiring leaders?

My one cliched tip is not to hesitate to ask for help or tips from people you know on both sides of the fence – Legal and Business. It's essential to put a lot of time into learning, especially during the first 5 to 7 years in your job. Young lawyers often want fast answers, but I highly recommend spending this initial stage gaining wisdom and skills. The added advantage of interacting with business teams on topics like products and innovations is that it helps you formulate a thinking pattern that appreciates the effort it takes to truly innovate making one more perceptive to the business goals.

Sukhnaa Chhabra, Head-Legal & Compliance, Unlimit India

With a rich background in intellectual property law and a keen interest in technology, Sukhnaa has navigated various sectors within the legal domain. Beyond her professional career as a lawyer, she is a wife, a mom to a 5-month-old daughter, a traveler, and an avid reader. Spearheading multibillion-dollar projects such as MPL Group Payments, OPGSP, BBPOU, she received internal accolades and awards for her pivotal role in leading and structuring innovative products.

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