Metropcs Communications Inc.
The biggest accomplishment, and one of the greatest challenges, in Mark Stachiw’s career as a corporate counselor was successfully combining the businesses of two communications giants, MetroPCS and T-Mobile.
The deal had multiple moving parts, requiring nine different work streams, each one with significant legal and/or regulatory work. All were managed through Stachiw’s office.
Talk about complicated. The deal involved a foreign owner, resolution of antitrust and regulatory issues through the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice, securities work since shareholder approval was needed, and approval of the U.S. government, including the FCC and the DOJ.
Throw in the added complication of seven shareholder lawsuits in three states, plus some shareholders who opposed approval of the transaction on its original terms, and the result was a mammoth project for Stachiw and his in-house team.
A 28-year-career as a corporate counselor, including stints with Verizon Wireless, Allegiance Telecom, MetroPCS and, since August, NxGen Partners LLC, has allowed Stachiw to do what he loves. “I always wanted to work with businesses,” he says, “and I really enjoy learning.”
One pivotal learning experience came when he first joined MetroPCS.
The company “had just had a failed IPO, and it was struggling to go public again. My intuition was that it would take time, but I wasn’t experienced and I listened to the experts,” he says. “It turned out that I was right. I’ve learned that when something doesn’t feel right, you should challenge it. Don’t just accept it.” — Glenda Vosburgh
Alan Greenspan, Glazer’s distributors
Leo Wegemer, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
OUTSTANDING IN-HOUSE COUNSEL
For Jana Ferguson, a three-month project filling in for someone on maternity leave turned into a new career at PepsiCo Inc., the world’s second-largest food and beverage company, generating more than $65 billion in annual revenue.
Now in her sixth year, the senior legal director, EEO & employment law, is the lead legal contact for PepsiCo’s 120,000 U.S. employees on matters related to hiring, recruiting, Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, workers’ compensation, and federal contract compliance programs. Ferguson also is one of the company’s employment law subject matter experts for various mergers and acquisitions.
“I work by the PepsiCo mantra ‘P to the 3,’ or Proactively Partner and Protect,” she says. The go-to problem solver works with a team to tackle challenges and improve efficiency, from reducing the number of federal employment law open audits and saving the company millions in fees to decreasing the processing time for ADA requests.
Keeping her team busy these days is the transition to a new global operating model to unify policies and develop training in sync with PepsiCo standards for the company’s 300,000 employees in more than 200 countries. The “monumental task” has already begun showing financial returns.
“As in-house counsel, it is important to understand that there is always risk in doing business,” Ferguson says. “Rather than merely advising on those legal risks, it is important to help business partners find creative solutions that both meet their business objectives, and minimize the risks.” — Elise Anthony
Todd Bowers, Lockheed Martin Corp.
Tiffany Brunson, FedEx Office and Print Services Inc.
Kip Poe, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas
OUTSTANDING DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL OR ASSOCIATE GENERAL COUNSEL-SMALL LEGAL DEPATRMENT
Alexandria Hien Mccombs
Even though her aspiration to become a pediatrician didn’t pan out, Alexandria Hien McCombs has parlayed it into a successful career in healthcare law.
Hien McCombs, assistant vice president and corporate counsel, is one of four attorneys on the lean legal team at Concentra, a subsidiary of Humana Inc. and a national provider of health and well-being services with $1 billion in revenue and 8,000 employees. Concentra operates 16 urgent care centers in North Texas.
She joined the company two years ago, after Humana purchased Concentra for $790 million. Hien McCombs serves as lead counsel for more than 700 centers and employer healthcare clinics across the country on all operational, regulatory, and contractual matters.
“It’s been a really unique role to come in after [the merger],” she says. “The challenging part is how do you integrate with the [parent] company. My role expanded to include Humana, so I’m the operational compliance counsel for Concentra, but also in that role for Humana.”
Hien McCombs doesn’t lack drive, a quality she may have inherited from her father, who helped his family flee Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Although she was only 18 months old at the time, she’s been forever shaped by her parents’ focus on family and education and by “great mentors and sponsors” throughout her career.
She’s given back by mentoring others and volunteering for nearly 10 years on the American Bar Association’s Health Law Section.
“I’m trying to develop meaningful healthcare policies, and help mentor other young minorities interested in entering healthcare law,” says the mother of three young children. — Karen Nielsen
Monica Berry, NTR Metals
Liz Seabury, Le Duff America Inc.
OUTSTANDING DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL OR ASSOCIATE GENERAL COUNSEL-MIDSIZE LEGAL DEPATRMENT
Sabre Holdings Corp.
One of the biggest challenges Camille Penniman has faced as associate general counsel for Sabre Holdings came in a $1 billion lawsuit filed against the company by American Airlines.
She led the discovery effort, which resulted in the accumulation of more than six terabytes of data and seven million documents. “There was a fight over every possible issue in the case,” Penniman recalls.
It was a “bet-the-company” kind of case, and managing her clients’ expectations, fears and strategies was a challenge. The key, she says, was establishing solid relationships between in-house and outside counsel over the two-year life of the case, which was resolved by a confidential settlement.
Penniman joined Sabre in November 2006, after working for four years at law firms. “I went in-house relatively early, and I quickly discovered that this is how I was meant to practice law,” she says. “You have to be comfortable coming in every day not knowing what is going to be on your desk. I like that—it keeps things fresh.”
Experience has taught Penniman to trust her instincts, which served her well in a patent lawsuit filed against her client. Despite offers from both sides and pressure from the judge, she refused to settle. The risks were significant: the company could have faced $10 million in damages. In the end, the jury found the plaintiff’s patents were invalid.
“Outside counsel even sent me a rubber chicken to memorialize the victory and my refusal to go along with his ‘chicken’ urge to settle,” Penniman says. — Glenda Vosburgh
P. Christian Schroder,
Cash America International inc.
Betty Ellsworth Ungerman,
Lennox International Inc.