WSGR Holds Women's Leadership Academy

On October 18-19, 2018, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati held its Women's Leadership Academy at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley in East Palo Alto. More than 200 women attorneys from across the firm's locations and practice areas attended. One of many training and development programs offered by the firm, the academy is designed to help women associates build their leadership, mentoring, and relationship skills with clients and colleagues, and to help them think about the best strategies to help grow and enhance their practices.

The academy kicked off on Thursday evening, October 18, with a fireside chat between WSGR partner and board chair Katie Martin and special guest Mary Cranston. Mary has more than 15 years of experience as a board director, including board of public companies in the financial payments, biotech, networking, semiconductor, engineering, carbon materials, and chemical industries. She currently serves on several company boards, including VISA, Chemours, MyoKardia, and CSAA Insurance. Mary is also formerly the chair and CEO of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

On Friday, October 19, Katie started off the morning with an official welcome speech, highlighting industry data regarding the percentages of women across the associate and member ranks. After the welcome, attendees were divided into tables and participated in a facilitated networking session. The tables were strategically seated and arranged to incorporate a mix of women attorneys in various practice levels, practice groups, and office locations.

In addition, the academy hosted two "Client Lean In" sessions featuring women executives from various companies, including:

  • Vijaya Gadde - Vijaya was recently promoted to chief legal officer at Twitter. She had previously served as general counsel at the company since August 2013. Before joining Twitter in July 2011, Vijaya worked at Juniper Networks and was an associate in WSGR's San Francisco office from 2000-2010.
  • Judy Bruner - Judy is on the board of directors for several technology companies, including Applied Materials, Varian, Seagate, and Rapid 7. Previously, she was the chief financial officer at SanDisk and Palm. Judy has 36 years of operational leadership experience in the technology industry, overseeing finance, legal, IT, HR, and facilities.
  • Lora Blum - Lora is general counsel, senior vice president, and secretary of the board at SurveyMonkey. Prior to joining SurveyMonkey in 2017, she was vice president, legal-corporate and assistant secretary at LinkedIn. Lora was also previously an associate at WSGR.
  • Kate Schuelke - Kate is senior vice president, chief legal officer, and corporate secretary at Seagate. Prior to joining Seagate in 2017, she was senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary at Altera Corporation, where she helped negotiate the company's acquisition by Intel.

The final two programs of the day were "Show Your Work" sessions, which were moderated by WSGR associate Tracy Rubin. During the sessions, participants at each table were given the opportunity to discuss five questions on various situations and challenges that women commonly face in the workplace. Each table was asked to share important takeaways and a key question during the "Report Back" session that followed—a session that featured a panel of WSGR partners, including Melissa Hollatz, Manja Sachet, Lisa Stimmell, and Lucy Yen. Topics discussed among the panel and participants included mentoring, balancing the gender gap, time management, and other career-building skills.