With a lifelong goal to be a lawyer, I knew that law school was on my academic horizon. Getting to law school would take me through an undergraduate business degree in finance. After eight years of practicing law at Chrysler (pre-Daimler merger), I was nominated to attend an executive MBA program. I learned to appreciate the rigors and challenges of working and going to school full time. Hard work, staying focused and the support of my family were key.
This broad academic background enhanced my business acumen and enabled me to take a more pragmatic approach to the practice of law. In-house counsel must be an integral part of the business, and strategies must be aligned accordingly. My advice is to immerse yourself in the business operations and constantly look for innovative solutions. We’re in a very competitive market and staying ahead of the game requires stamina.
MENTORING A strong work ethic, dedication and becoming a student of the business are crucial to success. But you cannot get there alone. Throughout my career, I have relied upon many people for knowledge, wisdom and insight. These mentors have been instrumental in giving me direction and purpose, and I would strongly encourage others in large organizations to actively develop these types of relationships. While I am an advocate of formal mentoring programs, I believe that true mentoring relationships occur naturally and develop over time.
LEADERSHIP New to the role of vice president and general counsel and now a member of the leadership team at DaimlerChrysler Financial Services, I am realizing that what made me successful in the past may not be what makes me successful in the future. In a leadership role you must learn, among many other things, to develop, nurture and coach those around you. That is not as easy as it sounds and requires a focus and dedication that are new to me. Leadership is also about defining what success is, planning how to achieve it and engaging those around you in that process. Most of all, you and your entire team, however it is defined, must have a shared vision and the collective passion to make success a reality.