In our second interview of Corporate Counsel Insights, we met with Tammy Albarrán, the Chief Legal Officer of Peloton. Peloton Interactive, Inc. is an American exercise equipment and media company based in New York City. 

Corporate Counsel Insights is an interview series featuring conversations with leading general counsel and in-house lawyers. The series provides an inside look at the role of modern legal departments and shares insights from prominent general counsel and in-house experts. To view our first interview with Scott Corrigan of Standard Chartered Bank, click here.

Question 1:  I'm sure there's been a lot of surprises in your first year at Peloton. What's the biggest surprise that you didn't expect?

Joining a company that is embarking on a major turnaround is a ginormous challenge in and of itself. I think the biggest challenge for me has been leading through so much change and uncertainty. As the company continues to evolve, it’s been challenging to lead amidst transformation.

Question 2:  What challenges do you think chief legal officers need to be focused on in the year ahead?  

When I look at the landscape of issues that are hot topics, it feels like a different flavor of the same issue, which is increased regulation and enforcement. Companies like Peloton, tech companies especially, must prioritize privacy given the future of artificial intelligence (AI). There are so many different state privacy laws that are going into effect and it's crucial that GCs understand and are aware of the material nuances between all these statutes and regulations, more specifically how they relate to AI.

Question 3: What are some of the tips and tricks you use to develop your team and help them produce great work?

First and foremost, it's essential that I set expectations. I have very high expectations for myself and, by extension, have high expectations for my team. One of the things that I continually tell my team is that we must operate with transparency, integrity, and accountability. Those are the primary values that we espouse as a team.

I like to lead by example – I don't just tell them, I show them. I want to make sure that the individuals on my team understand how the work they do connects to the broader company vision and purpose. It is important for people to feel like they understand what work to prioritize and how to avoid wasting time on tasks that are not going to be consequential to the business. It also helps keep them focused and motivated. 

Frequent feedback is also impactful and helps the team to continuously learn from everyday interactions. Additionally, cultivating a feeling of teamwork and promoting a mentality that we're all in this together, helps us to better learn from each other, share ideas, and connect the dots to deliver the best service possible to the business. It’s also a priority to recognize and reward good performance, regardless of whether you're working on the larger, high-impact transaction or the day-to-day work that happens across the department. People like to feel like there's a purpose for the work that they're doing, and it helps keep them motivated, focused, and engaged.

Question 4: What criteria do you use when making decisions about legal services providers and advisors?

There are a couple of things that I focus on. I’m not solely looking for outside counsel, I’m looking for trusted advisors. I want lawyers who tell me what I need to hear, and not necessarily what I want to hear. It's critical to understand the distinction, because knowing everything upfront is necessary when I need to make the best decision and take the best approach. Surrounding myself with people who are willing to be open and honest with me and know how to give sound practical advice is necessary. The advice that I give my internal clients needs to be actionable and pragmatic; I expect the same from my outside advisors. 

The second thing that I like to look for is outside counsel who can partner well with my in-house teams. I like to say that my team knows the company best. It’s important that we are actively collaborating along the way, formulating the strategy, and ensuring our outside counsel understands broader considerations that factor into our business strategy, brand perception, policy, and over overall roadmap. 

Finally, and most importantly, I want to partner with law firms and lawyers who share the same values as Peloton, as well as my own personal values—a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We all are familiar with the research that confirms that diverse teams make better decisions and lead organizations to better outcomes. For me, it is important that I partner with firms who have and share a strong commitment to diversity. Our workforce is equally as diverse as our community of Peloton members. It’s essential that we partner with outside counsel who understands that diversity makes us better.

Question 5: AlixPartners has several avid Peloton users, as well as across several of our clients; I would never be forgiven if I didn't ask you what your favorite Peloton workout is.

I have many! Thankfully, you're not asking me who my favorite Peloton instructor is because, as my chief content officer says, that’s like asking a parent to choose their favorite child.

But for a favorite Peloton workout, it really depends on my mood. Peloton really is for anyone, anywhere, anytime. I ask myself what I need at that point in time, and what I have access to. I may be traveling and be limited to my Peloton app. If I'm at home, I have access to my bike and tread, so it really depends. Recently, I’ve gotten into the boot camps, which are great because you can combine cardio and strength. At my age now, it's important to ensure that I'm also adding strength workouts in, not just cardio. 

The great thing about Peloton is that we offer so many different classes for just about anyone. I like to tell myself there’s no excuse; even if I only have 10 minutes, I can carve out this small amount of time to do something for myself.