Five minutes with…Vincent Brault, Anaqua
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Five minutes with…Vincent Brault, Anaqua

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Vincent Brault tells us how he fits kitesurfing into his lunchtime routine and why IP is no longer seen as ‘nerdy’

Welcome to the latest instalment of Managing IP’s ‘Five minutes with’ series, where we learn more about IP practitioners on a personal as well as a professional level. This time we have Vincent Brault, senior vice president for product and innovation at Anaqua in the US.

Someone asks you at a party what you do for a living. What do you say?

I usually start by simply saying that I lead product and innovation at a software company. The conversation then naturally moves into the intellectual property part of my work. Twenty-five years ago, the average person at a party might not have known anything about IP or assumed it was a boring topic, but nowadays I find people are much more intrigued. If they don’t know a lot about IP and are looking for a simple explanation, I like to find an example of a well-known company with a large IP portfolio, and how we would help them manage all their patents and trademarks.

Talk us through a typical working day.

A typical workday for me starts early, usually around 6 am. I prefer to get as many things crossed off my to-do list as I can in the first couple hours of my day before I am pulled into meetings. I meet with colleagues and clients across Europe, India, and Asia, so due to the time zones, I start my schedule with those folks before my US-based meetings. Usually, my calls revolve around strategy brainstorms, meeting with prospects, or discussing everything from client satisfaction to product gaps.

I make use of my lunch break to go kitesurfing near my house, whenever the wind is best. Once a week, I try to make it into the office to interact with my team in person.

What are you working on at the moment?

It has been a busy time here at Anaqua. From June 24 to 27, we held our annual user conference, the Anaqua Experience Conference.

We also announced our most significant IP management platform release in 20 years, the AI-powered AQX 11, and I’m enjoying seeing the excitement and reactions from our client base of IP professionals. Finally, I’ve been leading our Anaqua Executive Council, a group of 42 IP thought leaders who share input on where they’d like Anaqua to be three years from now. I truly enjoy engaging with our clients closely to understand how we can solve their challenges or pain points both in the short and long term.

Does one big piece of work usually take priority or are you juggling multiple things?

The IP world is fast and furious, and there’s always work to be done, so I am usually juggling multiple priorities. However, people always come first. If there’s a concern from my colleagues or people in my personal life, that pretty much takes precedence. This is a guiding principle for myself and how I prioritise my workload.

What is the most exciting aspect of your role and what is the most stressful?

The matters that are the most exciting to me are often a double-edged sword as they may also cause stress. I find managing people and guiding innovation to both be this way. Managing people can be very rewarding, but it can be exacting to stay connected in a fast-paced work environment, especially a virtual one.

Similarly, innovation is essential and inspiring, but it’s also risky. My role involves pushing innovation in IP forward, and that means volunteering ideas, putting myself out there, and sometimes rocking the boat. In an industry historically resistant to change, innovation requires you to not only get out of your comfort zone but encourage others to do so.

Tell us the key characteristics that make a successful IP lawyer/practitioner.

The ability to focus on the business is what separates great IP practitioners from the good ones. IP for the sake of IP is an outdated idea. Now, the enterprise demands a return on investment from all aspects of the business, so savvy IP professionals – at corporations or law firms – are very business-minded.

Another characteristic of a successful IP practitioner, especially as they advance in their career and move into management roles, is being able to lead with empathy and recognise the true value of their team.

What is the most common misconception about IP?

The biggest misconception is that IP is an obscure, nerdy, legal function. Today, IP has evolved into a business function that is high-impact, powerful, and grossly underrated. If you ignore it, you’re going to pay the price. Great innovators think of IP as a strategic business priority.

What or who inspires you?

I find myself most inspired when building teams and helping people progress in their careers. It’s rewarding to be a mentor and watch a team you’ve helped cultivate create customer value and become effective to the point where they no longer need your oversight. IP can be a very abstract world, so I like to focus on the people at the heart of it for inspiration.

If you weren’t in IP, what would you be doing?

I like to think that I would be a surgeon. I find work that has both intellectual and manual aspects to be both challenging and rewarding, and surgery seems like a good combination of the two. I also spend much of my time outside of work exploring the outdoors, be that weeks-long climbing treks, kitesurfing, or fly fishing. If I weren’t in IP, perhaps I would be exploring those interests further.

Any advice you would give your younger self?

Do what you love. Finding something you’re passionate about or something that keeps you happy in the morning going to work is critical. During our lives, we work so many hours, and doing something you love is a non-negotiable to staying happy.

What is your motto in life?

“Enjoy the present.” Following this motto in my own life is still a work in progress, but I think it’s of the utmost importance. This motto applies to work as well – when things get hectic and complicated, it can be easy to get lost in the never-ending to-do list. Especially with remote work, it can be harder to build engaging interpersonal relationships, but they are critical for overall wellbeing and can bring you out of a frustrated headspace by providing a reminder to ease up and enjoy the day.

I also like the saying, “work hard, play hard.” I appreciate the value of a hard day’s work and IP can sometimes demand long hours, but it’s critical to maintain personal hobbies and spend time outside of work doing what you enjoy.

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