THE ADVANCELAW GC LEADERSHIP AWARD is given to GCs who provide exceptional leadership to their companies, the legal profession and society. These GCs have led beyond expectations and touched lives beyond the legal department.
Six months into the pandemic, Tanya Holcomb became the first general counsel of BAYADA Home Health Care. BAYADA employs more than 26,000 home health care professionals who provide a full range of in-home care services worldwide, making it possible for millions of people to experience a better quality of life in the comfort of their own home. Tanya came to BAYADA from a distinguished in-house career in manufacturing and technology companies – so our conversation focused on making the transition into a new industry during a global crisis affecting the health care industry more acutely than any other.
For over thirty years, Bill Deckelman has been a leading general counsel in the IT industry – with ACS, CSC, and now DXC. DXC is a product of the 2016 merger between CSC and a division of HP, creating what is now a $17B global IT service provider with 130,000 staff operating in over 70 countries. The creation of DXC from two complex global companies was a massive undertaking and a case study in the management of change on a massive scale.
Scott Offer has been a key legal leader in the technology industry for over 20 years. He is currently the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Flex – a $24b multinational electronic manufacturing and design company that operates in over 30 countries with 160,000 employees.
Scott invites us to look at the evolution of the GC’s role as a complete business partner. He explains how the transition from role-based capabilities to total business capabilities, leaning into data analytics, aligning with the company’s business objectives, and sharpening soft skills are what make lawyers successful leaders in an environment of constant change.
A.B. Cruz III, former General Counsel at USAA, Emergent BioSolutions, Scripps Network Interactive and The E.W. Scripps Company, retired Navy Admiral, and Immediate Past President of the National Asia Pacific American Bar Association, has been engaged in a range of leadership roles since graduating from the Naval Academy. In our conversation, A.B. shared thoughts on private sector and military leadership, connecting with each team member as a whole person, and the paramount importance of learning a client’s business in detail.
Marie Oh Huber, SVP and General Counsel of eBay Inc., has been advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession since she started practicing law. By pushing for all lawyers to prioritize inclusion, Marie reminds us that everyone has a responsibility to contribute – not just those in leadership positions. Her career reflects the evolution of Silicon Valley – first at Hewlett-Packard, then Agilent Technologies, and now eBay. Given the pace of change in tech, perhaps it was inevitable that Marie would experience the challenges of corporate transformation as much or more than many GCs. In the full interview, Marie talks about encouraging – and managing – change in its many forms.
Anne Madden: In Her Own Words
In Their Own Words profiles focus on how GCs have transcended the “reactive lawyer” role to lead positive change in their companies, the legal profession and society.
Anne Madden is a champion of innovative change initiatives. After 15 years as Honeywell’s VP and Global Head of M&A, Anne stepped up as general counsel in 2017 in a big way: she implemented comprehensive digital contract lifecycle management and transformed Honeywell’s approach to law firm management. With her full commitment and confidence in implementing digital innovation and her belief that change can be a good thing in the legal realm, Anne embodies the qualities of a true leader.
Verona Dorch was an extraordinary person who embodied the qualities of a true leader throughout her incredible career. We were able to honor her with the GC Leadership Award in December 2020 before she sadly passed away unexpectedly in February of this year.
At AdvanceLaw, we worked with Verona to set up her law firm panels at Peabody, and in 2020 we began that process at Providence. We saw how she led through change with vision and a destination in mind.
Lee Reichert’s almost 10-year tenure at Molson Coors has been filled with impressive leadership and a thoughtful effort to make positive, lasting changes in the company and the legal profession. One such effort was the creation of an 18-month law department clerkship which has created additional opportunities for diverse law school graduates. It exposes young lawyers to in-house legal work, providing them with a powerful – and highly marketable – experience straight out of law school. Below, Lee talks us through his company’s innovative clerkship program and its goal to impact DEI for Molson Coors and in the legal profession.
Bjarne Tellmann talks about leading the charge in legal department transformation during his time as GC at Pearson PLC along with lessons learned. He walks us through the framework of how to look at change: Hardware, Software, and Constants. Bjarne puts emphasis on digital transformation, explaining that data driven insights are where the true value lies. He also recognizes the human aspect of the journey. As the environment around starts to shift, what behaviors and thinking will be moved forward, and what should be left behind? Bjarne reminds us that the only constant in a major transformation such as this one, is change.
In her first year as GC of Discover, Wanji Walcott set clear new expectations for the department, company, and community. She committed the department to five hours of pro bono work per lawyer and tailored new pro bono opportunities for her lawyers; extended the Mansfield Rule to the staffing of major internal projects; narrowed and focused key performance indicators (KPIs) and gave KPIs a more central role in department management; and initiated a comprehensive review of over 100 law firm relationships while instituting budgeting protocols to forecast and manage costs more effectively in all matters.