A Merging of Competencies

Maria Diaz, senior vice president and principal legal counsel for Thomson Reuters

Maria Diaz draws upon her diverse background to counsel multibillion-dollar company Thomson Reuters through acquisitions, financial crises, and beyond

Living in New York City, Maria Beatriz Diaz’s first unofficial responsibility was to translate for her parents and help them navigate a new culture. They moved from Galicia, Spain when she was seven years old, and she quickly learned English and adapted to life in the big city. A city girl through and through, she obtained both her bachelors and law degrees at New York University. She then practiced law as an associate for Roger & Wells (now Clifford Chance) for seven years before Reuters Group PLC recruited her. Diaz explains that they were looking for someone with her multicultural background. The global company wanted someone who could act as a business partner, and Diaz had the insight and experience required for the role. “I recognized there was a unique opportunity for me at Reuters,” she says, “and I was willing to take a risk, based on instinct.” Diaz now serves as senior vice president and principal legal counsel for the merged Thomson Reuters.

The learning curve was a steep one, Diaz admits. As an associate, she had one area of focus. At Reuters, she needed to learn the inner workings of the company’s operations to tackle a wide range of legal issues, from compliance to employment. “At a law firm,” says Diaz, “an attorney is an external advisor engaged on a specific project to provide legal advice and mitigate risks. In-house, an attorney acts as a business partner, puts risks in perspective, and enables the business to make those critical decisions.”

Acquisition

Eleven years after joining Reuters, Diaz glanced around from her seat in Radio City Music Hall. The century-old building served as the backdrop as two companies embarked on their future as a combined corporation. “It was Thomson Reuters’s first meeting as one company,” she says, “and I knew it was going to be a very different company with a great deal of potential.” The Thomson Corporation acquired Reuters Group PLC in 2008. As that first meeting unfolded before her, Diaz’s excitement grew. “I took note that we were bringing together formidable assets in the information space,” she recalls. “I walked out of that meeting feeling charged.”

Since then, she and the legal team have banded together with the business to tackle major challenges, such as integration, financial crises, and Superstorm Sandy’s destruction along the East Coast. “One of the aspects I value most about Thomson Reuters is that in a crisis, the company effectively comes together and delivers,” Diaz says.

The Global View

During her time in private practice, Diaz spent a great deal of time traveling to Latin American countries. That, coupled with her childhood, gave Diaz a perspective that serves her today. “I already had a global outlook, but also had a regional focus in Latin America,” she explains. “Once at Thomson Reuters, my focus became even broader because we are a global company with operations in every corner of the world. My network of relationships expanded tremendously.”

Her work experience is diverse, including recent projects handling complex commercial negotiations with major clients, negotiating strategic alliances, and managing investigations and litigation. Diaz and her team work with clients and partners internationally and manage a variety of legal matters. She is an integral part of the company’s operations, from product creation and support to sales and marketing.

On the Horizon

It’s difficult to predict what’s next for the global information company, which in 2013 posted revenues of $12.5 billion. It’s just as hard to say what will come next for Diaz. She’s happy in her current role, but always wants to keep growing. “I recognize opportunities and make the most of them, and I’m guided by my instinct,” she says. “I adapt easily to change, and I’m willing to take risks.”