What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I’m the Legal Director of Mergers & Acquisitions at Cognizant Technology Solutions. Cognizant is a NASDAQ 100 company that provides information technology, consulting, and business process outsourcing services to companies across the globe.
I majored in International Relations in college and thought I’d join the Foreign Service after graduation but a summer internship at a law firm sparked an interest in a career in law. I worked for two years as a corporate paralegal at Shearman & Sterling LLP before law school and after I graduated, I worked as an attorney at Baker Botts LLP and then Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld LLP for 7 years doing corporate work with a focus on Mergers & Acquisitions. I’ve only recently made the transition to the in-house position at Cognizant.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
The greatest challenge is the daily juggling of multiple transactions with people in various locations around the world. At the same time, that’s also what drew me to M&A- the fast paced deal cycle and the ability to work with people in different roles throughout many jurisdictions.
What is your proudest achievement?
Last December at Akin Gump, I worked on a transaction that consisted of over 20 separate asset sales with complicated labor and regulatory issues. For various reasons the deals had to be consummated during a very short window and each sale had a unique set of issues. I was proud to be part of the team that worked around the clock, during the holidays, to achieve a great result for the clients all the while maintaining our collective grace and sense of humor.
I am also proud of my pro bono work, particularly helping abused, immigrant women make successful petitions under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – even when the timing isn’t optimal in terms of deal flow!
On a personal level, it takes a lot of drive to work on M&A deals for as many years as I have while trying to stay present in the lives of your loved ones and that’s something I consciously strive to accomplish on a daily basis.
What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
I’ve been fortunate to work with many great lawyers in my career. The ones I admire most bring a passion to their work that’s contagious to both clients and junior lawyers. Through watching Trey Muldrow, a partner a Akin Gump, I learned that if you focus on the business needs of your clients and are devoted to your clients and your team, success will follow.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I hope that I’ll still be practicing M&A in some capacity; whether on the legal or business side. As my children get older, I hope to travel much more.
How has your participation with the Executive Leadership Program impacted the way you approach to your career
I’ve noticed that a common theme among the stories of successful senior professionals I’ve met through ELP is that they had the courage to take that first step off the safe path in order to advance to the next level of their career. Risk taking isn’t an innate characteristic of mine, so I’ve had to learn to take calculated risks to get to where I want to be in my career.