How I Got Here: The Road to GC
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As GC, you should be looking around the corners for the rest of the business. How can you help the business understand what is coming next in scale, and not only what you have to do, but why?
Ironclad’s General Counsel Chris Young recently led a discussion with three Legal executives at high-growth tech companies on their way to the top:
- Megan Niedermeyer, GC at Fivetran, a Saas company that are the pipes for your data, making it easy and reliable as electricity to power data-driven decisions;
- Carita Shanklin-Walker, CLO at Greenlots, a member of the Shell group of companies, that deploys game-changing software at scale with a focus on electric vehicle mobility; and
- Meredith Fuchs, GC at Plaid, a Saas company that connects fintech and digital finance apps with your bank accounts.
They shared what led them to their roles today, with some of their journeys spanning the globe from Louisiana to Qatar, Washington D.C., and even Afghanistan!
Here are some best practices from our experts:
- Maintain a growth mindset and appreciate opportunity. Balance plotting and planning for advancing your career and remember that opportunity is abundant.
- Know your why and mission. Explore what is important to you. Your career won’t necessarily be linear. You may have pit stops and that’s okay because there may be things you need to learn.
- Networking is about the people you know and it happens in the ordinary course of your day. The relationships you build along the way can open the door to opportunity, especially when you aren’t necessarily looking.
- GCs at tech companies manage strategic initiatives and build consensus internally. Wherever you are in your organization, choose something to build and have measurable impact. How can you improve the life of your clients internally and share the impact?
- Beyond subject matter expertise, successful GCs are able present information in a succinct way, listen well, demonstrate empathy, and build trust. A growth mindset can propel you beyond just being a lawyer to becoming a trusted advisor and leader.
- Don’t try to do anything too serious in the first 90 days. Listen and learn. Attend meetings, understand the business, and learn what’s important to the different teams you work with.
- Figure out what the company plan is, and map your team plan to it. Within your team plan, you should have individual plans that map up. The more you can challenge yourself to have key results and objectives, then you will demonstrate you can run an operational business unit and also develop people.
- It’s okay to take a break. You need to take time to make time.
- Take on true leadership and lead from where you are. If you’re asking yourself, “I wish somebody would,” why not consider yourself? Have an ownership mentality.
Watch Now: How I Got Here: The Road to GC
I didn't always approach my job as a lawyer. I approached it as a leader and as a problem solver.