Robert Piasentin

General counsel, Sierra Systems, Age 39

Robert Piasentin’s interest in law was sparked by his love of music and sports.

“I’ve always been interested in the rights around content creation and protecting a work,” he said.

He emphasizes that he’s never been “good enough” to do either professionally, but his hobbies of playing classical guitar and soccer, tennis and hockey led him to focus on intellectual property and trademarking in law school.

Later, he worked with a company in the U.K. that owns many high- profile athletic brands, such as Dunlop, Slazenger, Karrimor and Lonsdale.

In 2007, Piasentin returned home to British Columbia to work for Sierra Systems. He’s been with the IT consulting company ever since and is its sole lawyer. As the company’s first general counsel, he was also largely responsible for creating his job and all the policies and procedures that go along with it.

His work covers a huge variety of legal duties – “everything from litigation to M&A to employment issues and leases,” he said.

“It’s a broad portfolio that makes for a lot of responsibility across the board.”

For instance, he was responsible for the sale of Sierra’s Romanian operation to a Romanian company, a complicated deal that required working with the Eastern European legal system.

Another career high was successfully negotiating a multimillion-dollar settlement in a dispute with a company that had subcontracted Sierra Systems. Subsequent problems with the contract led Sierra to take legal action, and Piasentin was the lead lawyer on that case.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” Piasentin said. “The people I work with are just excellent. They’re passionate, intelligent, and they really understand what the issues are.”

Piasentin is a founding member and president of the B.C. chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and a founding member of Vancouver’s St. Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild of British Columbia.