- On July 5, 2015
I recently heard four GCs describe their path to the top: John Kuo of Varian Medical Systems, Jan Kang of AOptix, Brian Cabrera of NVIDIA, and Stephanie King of AdRoll. Despite having diverse backgrounds and working at companies in different industries stages, they gave consistent advice to lawyers aspiring to be GCs:
- Get your foundation. Train at a firm and in-house, learn your trade, and get exposure to a variety of areas. Each GC was at his/her firm 4+ years and went in-house 8-10 years before becoming GC. The legal environment today is increasingly complex, so the top lawyer needs to ably counsel a wide variety of areas.
- Understand the business. The GCs all said their clients look to them for succinct and timely input to help the business.
- Soft skills are as important as legal and business skills. GCs must show they are leaders and be able to persuade executives, not just state what the law is.
- Take on projects outside your expertise. This is essential to build your foundation, understand the business, and develop executive presence. John started new offices in Ireland and Singapore. Brian volunteered to support HR, Stephanie took on product compliance, and Jan learned new industries.