Women GCs: The Best Advice I Ever Received

Over three days during September 17-19, InsideCounsel magazine succeeded where others have not.  They created a national forum to facilitate women-to-women exchange on current legal issues.  This year’s conference was the second annual meeting to bring together talented women attorneys.  As part of the process, InsideCounsel invited nationally-recognized women who are General Counsel for Fortune 500 companies and attracted the best and brightest among in-house attorneys around the world.  One speakers’ panel shared their experiences for getting to the GC leadership positions where they are today, and the advice is refreshingly candid.

  • Find your passion first, and then find the job for it.  Then, your job will not seem like work.
  • Be who you are and own it, but be willing to challenge your own comfort zone.  This might require you to raise your hand for opportunities for which you have no prior experience.
  • Let others, particularly your team, know you are not perfect.  Weakness is human, and showing areas where you need help brings teams closer.  A good team can “walk through fire” together.
  • Be mindful how you behave toward others up and down the ladder.  People will remember how you handle yourself, and you will build your reputation through high-pressure situations.  As Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
  • Take the “long” view of career situations.  See the lemonade from the lemons, the opportunities in a problem.  Over the long term, things that happen can end up being the best situation for you and your growth.

InsideCounsel has been involved in advancing women’s careers in the legal profession for years.  In 2012, they spearheaded Project 5/165, an effort to prepare and place women in 30% of the GC positions at Fortune 500 companies within the next five years.  The peer-to-peer dialogue will continue, with next year’s conference scheduled for October 28-30, 2015.

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