Education: Cornell Law School (JD, 1979); Oberlin College (BA, Government 1976, Phi Beta Kappa)
First Job: Seyfarth Shaw Law Firm
What I'm Reading: Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese; The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
My Philosophy: Make the most of the opportunities that present themselves and build on them.
Family: Husband of 32 years; two sons, ages 24 and 21.
Interests: Daily exercise, gardening, classical music
Favorite Charities: CARE
Laura Kennedy • SAIC
Senior Vice President, Ethics and Compliance2010 award winner
Rarely does a career follow a straight path. Opportunities present themselves and lead you in directions you never anticipated. I have found that making the most of those opportunities and building upon them create the most successful and rewarding careers.
I am one of those people who went all the way through school without taking a break. After my second year of law school, I began working at a law firm in the field of government contracts where I planned to stay a year or so in private practice, but ended up staying 22 years. In 2000, I joined a client, Honeywell, as vice president of Global Compliance, where I used my background in government contracts to expand my scope in the field of regulatory compliance. Five years later, I was recruited to join SAIC, where I serve as senior vice president of ethics and compliance.
Each of these positions challenged me in different ways and broadened my skills. At Honeywell and SAIC, I worked with senior management and the board of directors, which deepened my appreciation for the business and operational approaches to solving problems.
I met my husband my freshman year of college and we married after my second year of law school. I had two sons when I was a young partner in my early 30s, and began the supreme juggling act of balancing the demands of a busy private practice and a young family.
I am extremely fortunate to have a rich experience in both my personal and professional life. I have found that my family makes me a better professional and vice versa. I did not set out to be where I am today, but I did try to make the most of opportunities that came my way and took on new challenges to build on my earlier foundation. While it is important to know what you want to do, it is also important to remain open-minded and flexible. If not, you may lose out on experiences that could lead you to new heights.