What a bombshell! It’s true: after 22 years, Susan Hackett, gloriously outspoken, brilliant, and forward-thinking general counsel has announced that she is leaving the Association of Corporate Counsel. What a loss for ACC…but what a boon for whatever organization next benefits from her enormous talents.
For many of us in the legal marketplace, our entire careers have been influenced by her advocacy for in-house counsel that was equal parts passion and savvy. Even before the Great Recession, Susan and the ACC — in a particularly prescient move — developed the Value Challenge to guide in-house counsel in using resources more wisely, and to obtain the best “value” for their dollars. In the last few years, she has tirelessly criss-crossed the country speaking, teaching, presenting and creating extraordinarily practical workshops on the value topic.
Susan’s influence and reach was not restricted to U.S. venues. She helped expand the ACC’s reputation and spur its growth to more than 26,000 members in over 10,000 companies in 75 countries.
When I was a General Counsel, my own thinking and approach to managing a law department and outside counsel often was informed by her intellectual rigor, her insight, her compassion for the increasingly daunting challenges of the in-house role, and her never-ending optimism and energy about the potential for positive change.
Since entering consulting, I also have had the privilege of working with Susan in various settings, and I always came away amazed at how much I learned in those encounters. The ACC has benefitted from two decades with Susan on board, and no doubt there will be lots of sad souls as she makes her exit. But, like Oprah after 4,600 shows, it’s important to know when to go so you can grow in new ways.
So, bye, bye Miss American Pioneer. We’ll watch your continuing adventures with interest and anticipation.