Q&A with Past President, Marie Grace Warnes

Q&A Interview

Tell us how you started in the information profession? 

Having obtained my degree in Philosophy and Literature, I was at a complete loss as to what I wanted to pursue for a career. It was my mum who suggested the information profession, and shortly after I started as a graduate trainee library assistant for Norton Rose, an international law firm. It was by complete chance that I fell into the legal sector from the very beginning!

Your current role is in a legal library. Tell us more about what you do?

I currently work as a Knowledge & Information Officer for Clifford Chance, another international law firm. I am lucky enough to work in an information team which is embedded within the financial markets practice, and to work with K&I colleagues across the globe. My role is really varied, from undertaking research and answering enquiries on the information side, to having regular meetings with the lawyers to capture the knowledge they have produced on the knowledge management side. I particularly support a group of lawyers who specialise in asset-backed securities and real estate finance. I regularly work with them to identify what their needs are and how we can improve our resources to help them be more efficient in their work.

Can you give us one key lesson you have learned from your career so far?

Do not be afraid to take risks. Not all careers have a traditional linear progression, and you have to grab exciting opportunities as they arise, even if they are not in your original plan.

How did you first get involved in SLA and why?

I owe so much to my friend and ex-colleague Sam Wiggins. Sam encouraged me to apply for one of the SLA Early Career Conference Awards while I was a graduate trainee, and the experience of winning the award and being welcomed into the SLA family at the conference in Chicago was fantastic! Even though that was over 10 years ago, I am still in touch with friends I made there in America, who affectionately refer to me as “Paddington” (in reference to Paddington Bear, who needed looking after while on their travels!).

You served on the SLA Europe Board and were one of our Early Career Conference Awards Winners – how have these activities helped you in your career?

Where to start! Absolutely the most important benefit is the wonderful friendships I have made with other volunteers on the SLA Europe board and committees. In addition to enjoying these friendships on a personal level, I first met my current manager at an SLA event – so the importance of expanding your professional network cannot be underestimated either.

I think with volunteering, you get as much out of it as you put into it. I have volunteered in a few roles over the years, including as SLA Europe’s Blog Editor, Secretary and then President. Through all of those roles, I have developed different skill sets, from writing meeting minutes to chairing board meetings, all of which have been transferrable into my daily work. I also think that volunteering in the early days of my career gave me a much-needed confidence boost and helped me to realise that I was capable of more than I thought.

What are your plans for the coming year?

 I am currently expecting my first baby in October, so I will be trying to balance preparing for our new life as a family of 4 (including our dog Bailey, who really was my first baby if I am completely honest) with having a relaxing summer, before the chaos of parenthood begins!