AUSTIN SO – CATALYST SPOTLIGHT

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I became a lawyer because, as a “1.5” generation immigrant, I saw it as a way to help the marginalized.  Through pro bono work and using my platform as a Division GC, I continue to champion social change, particularly on the issue of diversity and inclusion in Corporate America.  My profession – the law – is the least diverse of all the professions.  As a client with a significant amount of business to give to law firms, I can do my part to help change that.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

Seeing around corners and trying to prevent problems before they happen.

What is your proudest achievement?

My commitment to diversity and inclusion as Division GC.  In the past year, every single new law firm I hired was through a diverse relationship partner, and I demand diversity in the staffing of my cases.  Study after study has proven the enormous value of diversity in decision-making.  And that has held true for the legal matters I oversee.  It’s a win-win-win for the law firm, my company, and myself.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

Ivan Fong of 3M, Tom Sager of DuPont, and my dear friend and longtime mentor, Don Liu of Xerox.  These are three GCs who have led some of the best legal department in the country, while championing diversity and inclusion and taking the time to mentor younger attorneys.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

A Fortune 500 GC.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?

Network constantly in all directions – up, down, sideways, in and out.  And find a way to help someone else in some small way, every day.

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?

I have countless mentors and mentees.  I owe my success to numerous people who have helped me along the way.  And I try to pay forward – I never refuse a request for a meeting or a call for career advice.