Professional Development Track: Turning Us into IP All-Stars

Published: March 16, 2022

Anna Mae Koo

Anna Mae Koo (Vivien Chan & Co., China)

While career support and advancement have always been on INTA’s radar, the Association’s focus on professional development will take even more of a spotlight during the upcoming 2022 Annual Meeting Live+.

Professional Development is one of the Meeting’s seven tracks built around specific themes. Unlike the other tracks which consist mainly of panel sessions, the Professional Development programming features six Capsule Keynotes over three days, May 2‒4, at the in-person event. The Capsule Keynotes will be available on demand for Live+ and Virtual Only registrants until August 5.

Anna Mae Koo, partner at Vivien Chan & Co., based in Beijing, China, is the track leader of the Professional Development track, as well as co-chair of INTA’s newly established Professional Development Committee.

In an interview with the INTA Bulletin, Ms. Koo discusses why developing dynamic skills is more critical than ever, shares some tips on career advancement, and relays how the 2022 Annual Meeting Live+ educational program will help practitioners become all-star IP practitioners.

The Association’s increased focus on professional development is currently reflected in numerous ways, including Professional Development as one of the three pillars of the 2022‒2025 Strategic Plan, the creation of the Professional Development Committee for the 2022‒2023 Committee Term, and the Professional Development track at the 2022 Annual Meeting. Why has it become critical for the Association to step up its attention in this area?
Professional development provides intellectual property (IP) professionals with dynamic skills training that is critical to their career success. Knowing one’s trade is the foundation of success, but having the dynamic skills—understanding how to communicate in business, for example—is crucial to the longevity of any career.

In recent years, we have been experiencing the fastest evolution in the ways we conduct business. How we communicate and interact with our clients, business partners, and even colleagues is changing constantly in the world of social media and other technological improvements.

INTA’s 2020 Presidential Task Force had great vision and insight to have earmarked professional development as a priority and to recommend a new committee—to support INTA members in becoming IP all-stars. Development of these dynamic skills will become increasingly apparent and critical going forward.


Just like in every era, adapting to the changes and staying current is imperative. However, don’t fear the changes ….

What do you see as the impact of COVID-19 on IP professionals in terms of career advancement, work-life integration, etc., throughout the world?
COVID-19 has made the need for professional development even more apparent. The pandemic has completely altered the mode of communication and work. The stresses on the individual worker—having to work from home and engage with colleagues and clients through a screen—is not something we have encountered before. Career advancement has become so much more difficult due to lack of networking and educational opportunities.

In addition, mental health is a concern due to strict quarantine measures implemented in some countries at various stages of the pandemic.

INTA’s IP Law Firms of the Future Think Tank Report noted that “successful law firms of the future will have to distinguish themselves in new ways, such as on price, service models, and speed; the use of technology and communications; innovation; and add-on services.” Given these changes ahead, how must IP professionals adapt if they want to remain relevant within their firms and to their clients?
Just like in every era, adapting to the changes and staying current is imperative. However, don’t fear the changes: they are generally just the tools and add-ons. The basic tenet of providing legal services—to deliver tactical and strategic advice to clients—hasn’t changed.

What steps should brand legal professionals be taking to increase their visibility within their company, including having a seat in the C-suite?
It is understandably difficult in today’s environment to increase visibility. However, being seen and being heard is critical toward this goal. Support company initiatives, but don’t be apprehensive about voicing your own opinions. Remember, it is imperative to not just “manage down, but also to manage up.” If possible, find mentors and champions who will help you on your path. Take ownership of your work and make sure people know when you have achieved something for the team and the company.

What suggestions do you have for practitioners starting out in their careers in terms of guiding their own professional development?
Building your own professional persona is extremely important. Determine what you stand for professionally and stay true to that. Clients are quick to recognize and respect core values that you stand for.


Determine what you stand for professionally and stay true to that.

INTA’s Women’s LeadershIP Initiative Report cited the concerning statistic from the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, published by the World Economic Forum, that gender parity for women will not be attained for 99.5 years. You are among women in IP who have achieved success, including achieving partnership and being recognized with several accolades, such as the Asia Women in Business Law Award. What is the secret?
I have been incredibly lucky in my career to be supported by clients and colleagues. Women are judged by a different benchmark: you just have to accept it, but that doesn’t mean attaining results is impossible. Recognize your strengths and stick by clients who support and believe in you.

How can attending the 2022 Annual Meeting Live+ enhance an individual’s career and advancement?
I have attended INTA’s Annual Meeting for over 10 years, and I have benefited tremendously from each and every one. Attending the 2022 Annual Meeting Live+ allows brand and IP professionals to see and meet clients in person—and, for most, for the first time in more than two years. This year’s Annual Meeting will be a very memorable one for most—one not to be missed.

What will be some of the main takeaways from the Professional Development track?
The Professional Development track will feature great educational presentations on how to build one’s personal brand, from identifying your professional persona, to how to spread the word through social media channels. We will also discuss financial literacy and successful billing practice models, partnering with legal teams, and building an inclusive workplace. All in all, valuable information to help us become IP all-stars!

Learn more and register for the 2022 Annual Meeting Live+.

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