Thriving on challenges
Claire is a trade mark attorney with specialist IP firm Von Seidels, Rouse Africa joint venture partner. She is based in Cape Town, South Africa, and head of Rouse Africa’s trade mark department.
As far back as she can remember, Claire had wanted to be either a lawyer or a vet. Law seemed the obvious choice: she was good at absorbing and analysing large amounts of information, loved arguing the point - and she was an avid fan of popular legal TV dramas such as Law and Order and Ally McBeal. But she also adored animals and sometimes thought her future might lie in that direction instead. Ultimately, however, her lack of enthusiasm for maths and sciences put an end to any idea she might have had of becoming a vet, and she followed her heart in the direction of the law.
While law might have seemed an obvious choice to Claire, it certainly wasn’t an easy one: she was the first in her family to attend university and obtain a degree. Looking back, she says the drive came entirely from within. She has always wanted to push for more, always strived to do better.
On leaving school, she began work as a legal secretary in Cape Town. After several years she felt the need to broaden her horizons, and applied for a trade mark assistant position in the IP department of one of the city’s large law firms. She was interviewed by Bastiaan Koster (now Managing Partner of Von Seidels) who was quick to spot her potential and offer her the position. Over the next three years, she discovered her love of IP and in 2005 began studying law part time.
In 2007, when Bastiaan and several colleagues left to establish a specialist IP firm, Von Seidels, she was thrilled to be asked to join and two years later, in 2009, while still studying law part-time, she began her articles. Working full-time and studying law part-time was hard: for several years she spent long hours working and studying and had virtually no free time. But it was worth it. She did well and in 2011 was admitted as an attorney.
The establishment of Rouse Africa last year has been exciting for Claire and a great personal challenge as she has been given more management responsibility as a result - something she enjoys. She had already met some of the Rouse people at international trade mark conferences (Claire is an active INTA committee member and currently a member of the Africa Trademark Office Relations Subcommittee); now she is enjoying getting to know and working with other Rouse colleagues around the world.
Although Claire is, by her own admission, something of a workaholic, her passion for animals has never left her. In fact, the current loves of her life are her two Boston Terrier ‘furkids’, Milo and Ruby. She loves to unwind spending time with them, and taking them for long walks along the beachfront. She also supports the Boston Terrier Rescue Association, and attends or supports charity events for the SPCA as well as the Carthorse Protection Association.
Claire loves to travel for work and leisure, experiencing various cultures and exploring different countries. Her other great passion is shopping. Whenever she travels for work, she is likely to make shopping part of her travel plans, sometimes even staying an extra day to browse and shop. It is after all something most girls love to do!
She also enjoys reading; in particular, crime fiction by authors such as James Patterson and Lynda La Plante. Her favourite book of all time is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and she’s currently reading the sequel, The Mountain Shadow. She’s also reading, and thoroughly enjoying, Lean In, the hugely successful book by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, about women and leadership.
So far, apart from visiting the gym three or four times a week to keep fit, Claire hadn’t spent a lot of time on outdoor sporting activities, but she has recently discovered an unexpected enjoyment in hiking. Typically, she began with a challenge – Lion’s Head, a peak next to Table Mountain, just out of Cape Town. Many people have conquered Lion’s Head, but it was particularly challenging for Claire because she is scared of heights. She was thrilled to make it to the top, and rewarded with both spectacular views over Cape Town and the Atlantic and a great sense of achievement. She hasn’t yet decided what her next challenge will be – but whatever it is, she is sure to conquer it.