Dwight Yoo – Catalyst Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I am a Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, a global law firm. My practice focuses on capital markets and other corporate transactions, principally in the insurance and banking industries. My parents are first-generation immigrants; neither was a lawyer. After a brief experience as a paralegal at a law firm (after one year in Korea after college) to confirm my interest in law, I attended law school. I was a summer associate at Skadden and have been at the firm my entire legal career.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?
To succeed at the top level of legal service, I need to provide solutions (not just answers) fast, efficiently and ethically. Executing complex deals under tight deadlines while being available and on point 24/7 is gratifying, but takes stamina.

What is your proudest achievement?
Perhaps not my proudest achievement ever, but recent and of which I am proud. Since the New Year, I committed to being more present with my daughters in the early morning and walking the older one to pre-school each school day. Outside of travel or the occasional immovable meeting, I have been able to re-arrange my schedule to make it work daily. I owe a significant amount of thanks to my accountability group, comprised of a small number of professionals, each from a different company. The group was formed last year to advocate for each other professionally and to hold each member accountable to his or her near-term goals.  They certainly helped keep me on track.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
I try to adopt the best qualities of every person I meet or with whom I work. I nearly always see a trait or way of doing things that I want to adopt.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Still at Skadden. Our daughters, however, will then be teenagers. I plan to enjoy every minute until that time.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
Do what you are passionate about.

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?
I have several mentees, including at the firm, through bar associations and at other organizations. I also sponsor select associates. The successful mentor and sponsor relationships have been two-way streets. I have gained as much value from the relationship as I have given. Recently, I received feedback from an associate whom I sponsor that was as honest, incisive and behavior-changing as any I have received during my career.