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Léo Murgel Leans into New Opportunities

Léo Murgel Leans into New Opportunities

As SVP and COO at Salesforce, Leo Murgel embraces change while leading the company’s legal teams

Courtesy of Léo Murgel
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Everything was going according to plan for Léo Murgel. The brasileiro had wrapped up his secondary education in his hometown of São Paulo, where his family was engaged in public service. He enrolled at the Escola de Engenharia Mauá to study engineering just a few minutes away from their house. And he expected to spend the rest of his life in Brazil.

But when Murgel learned his parents were assigned to serve as diplomats in the US, he was faced with an unexpected decision: Would he stay home or try something?

“It was really a chance to go for something new, a potential learning opportunity like no other,” Murgel says. “I think that same theme carried over from other moments of my career, where nontraditional opportunities presented [themselves] in what turned out to be a fairly nonlinear professional journey.”

Little did Murgel know that pivoting would become a central theme in his journey; he’s been reinventing himself throughout his career. After moving to the US, he earned his BA in Food Engineering from the University of California at Davis. He lived in San Francisco during the early 2000s dot-com boom and made the switch to technology. Since then, he has overcome challenges by embracing change, whether as a food engineer, technology project manager, or operations leader.

Murgel has spent the last decade at global CRM leader Salesforce. As the company’s SVP and COO for legal and corporate affairs, Murgel is charged with elevating operational efficiency for its legal department, making it easier for in-house lawyers to be more productive while staying within budget. It’s a role that requires him to wear a lot of hats, including developing new ways of working, overseeing multiple internal systems, and driving its right-sourcing efforts.

“Right-sourcing in legal, in my mind, is a similar journey to what the health system went through over the past half-century. We are implementing automated processes that allocate specific portions of the work to the talent with the most relevant skills to execute,” the SVP and COO says.

Murgel empowers his teams to achieve business transformation by implementing highly scalable processes, reminding them that the “destination is worth the journey.” They fully leverage the power of the Salesforce platform, Salesforce partners, and legal operations industry experts—like HBR Consulting and the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) —to drive change.

“That journey starts by painting an effective vision of where we’re going, and then cements itself by demonstrating the strategy in small incremental steps,” Murgel says. “And that’s where I think a lot of transformations tend to fail, because people need to be able to see themselves executing successfully in that to-be state along the way. Good transformation is never easy. There will always be bumps in the road.” Murgel has applied agile software development principles to shape that future state vision as well as lead his teams towards that destination.

Brick by brick, Murgel lays down the foundation for his staff to navigate the path forward. The result? Salesforce’s legal and corporate affairs department continues to successfully guide a thriving business while operating at greater than 20 percent improved efficiency, in alignment with Salesforce core values of innovation and customer success.

Another Salesforce—and personal—core value is equality, and Murgel knows that this job is far from finished. At top Silicon Valley firms, less than 1 percent of leaders are African American. Just under 2 percent are Hispanic. He’s personally supporting the expansion of geographic horizons of the recruiters that support his department.

“If you keep looking in the San Francisco Bay Area for diverse talent, you’re going to find some [talent], but you’re going to find it only to the degree that the region has diversity,” Murgel says. “In terms of driving equality, and the diversity numbers broadly, you have to rethink the way you do the work.”

In addition to recruiting job candidates from a variety of regions, Murgel hires graduates from Year Up, a nonprofit talent training program, to foster diversity among his staff. 

On top of Murgel’s work at Salesforce, in the future he plans to find ways to accelerate CLOC’s expansion to Latin America. He sees an opportunity to connect Hispanic and Latino legal operations professionals with tech companies in the US. 

“It will be a key focus of mine next year, specifically to help elevate the local talent and highlight the great work being done in the region, as well as connect our work with the rest of the world,” Murgel says.

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