Meet the Flockers: Gareth Malna

September 28, 2021

Our Meet The Flockers series is an opportunity to get to know our team that little bit better. We pause, have a chat, and find out what makes our flock tick.

From favourite biscuits to bucket lists, this series shines a torch on the human side of our team.

Introducing Gareth Malna, Head of FinReg, talented solicitor, and avid traveller. Take it away Gareth…

What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?

I’ve had so many varied jobs over the years (nighttime shelf stacker at Tesco, furniture removals in Manhattan, kitchen fitters assistant, high school librarian, publisher) and I’ve learned a lot from each of them.  But the best decision I ever made was to spend more time focussing on balance. Too often lawyers get sucked into the time trap. It’s a service business so the only way to increase your personal performance is to work longer hours. But that doesn’t really benefit anyone other than the firm because the quality of your work decreases in roughly the same proportion as your quality of life. So now I get to focus a bit more on productising my offering, and people who subscribe to flamenco or keep an eye on the SL website should very soon start to see the fruition of the work I’ve been putting in on that front.  The result is that I get to work with our amazing team here to produce incredible tools and solutions that I know clients are going to love and, as a result, I can better use my time in ways that it will add real value – either by addressing complex client problems, or attending my kids school plays and parents evenings.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

I don’t know if they’re still a thing, but when I was in high school we had to go off to the careers centre one lesson, sit at a computer and fill out a bunch of answers to seemingly random questions like “do you like being outside?’ “do you drink water?” “have you ever breathed air?” and then it spits out suggestions of ideal jobs for you.  I was a pretty good student in school and I always had confidence in myself to achieve whatever I wanted, so I was expecting answers like ‘rocket scientist’ or ‘lawyer’, but instead I got bin man and window cleaner, which threw me a bit because I’d never really shown any interest in taking out the bins on a Wednesday night and, as my mum will attest, I certainly never cleaned the windows at home. But the one thing I’ve only really understood as I’ve got older is that the most important thing in life is to enjoy what you do. So, younger Gareth – I’ve got some good news and some bad news.  The good news is, follow your gut and do the things you love to do, because you define your own success and your own happiness. And the bad news? You’re going to go bald and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s just genetics.

Do you believe in life on other planets?

Growing up I used to run the SETI screensaver on my computer. It was basically a scientific experiment using hundreds of thousands of computers connected to the internet to scan satellite data that you downloaded. The program ran on your machine as your screensaver and it searched for regularities or small amounts of radiation that indicate the existence of intelligent life – all while you were away drinking Sunny Delight and watching Byker Grove. The dream was always that you’d come back to your desk and NASA had sent you some urgent communication that you, Gareth Malna, have found alien life! Alas, it wasn’t to be. Do I believe it exists? Well, you’ve asked a lawyer, so the answer depends on which client I’m instructed by.

What’s on your bucket list?

I haven’t had a bucket list until really recently and it’s really terrible because I couldn’t put my finger on the things that would make me feel like I’d done a good job at life. It always amazed me how many people felt that their life wouldn’t be complete if they didn’t swim with dolphins or do a sky dive. But seemingly after I turned 35 I started to panic that I’d die on the number 36 bus into Bristol without ever having done anything extraordinary. So, without further ado, the Gareth Malna bucket list:

  1. Go to the Ukraine. I’m ¼ Ukrainian and I’ve never been. I’m also ¼ Austrian and I’ve only ever been there once. So, in an attempt to honour my forebears it feels appropriate to at least visit the places that play a big part in my geaneology.
  2. Meet Naval Ravikant. He’s a genius in the tech/science/angel/silicon valley space and someone I admire in a lot of ways. I’m not entirely sure why I felt the need to meet him before I die when I was writing this list – I’d probably just be really awkward around him – but it would be awesome to get the chance to ask him some questions. If he’s not available I’ll settle for any of the Bolton Wanderers team from circa 2004-6 (but not Ivan Campo – I’ve already sold him a TV but that’s another story).
  3. Get a motorbike licence – Sorry mum!

Presumably I tailed off after 3 because that’s the thing that will cause my untimely demise and it was pointless thinking about anything further.

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