The Vanguard Forum for General Counsels - New York, Sep 11-12, 2019
Harvard Club of New York City

The role of General Counsel is one of the most demanding in the C-Suite, whether you are taking the role for the first time - or are addressing fresh challenges later in your career.

That is why The Vanguard Forum program focuses uniquely on further developing the top leadership capabilities of the by-invitation members - while building valuable networks.

Chair: Tom Sabatino 

Vice-Chairs: Ken Banta and Garrick Isert 


  • A unique leadership and networking membership for General Counsels from all sectors

  • Pragmatic, real-world topics relevant to GCs, across the career spectrum

  • Session leaders will be deeply experienced GCs, Senior Counsels, CEOs/C-Suite Executives and leadership experts. Participants learn from the sessions and each other.

  • Year-long program launches with face-to-face forum with intimate format and vigorous, engaging dialogue around critical leadership challenges. No PowerPoint presentations or podium speeches

  • Membership in the custom year-long Vanguard Network extends the Forum experience with digital learning, private dinners on leadership topics, and a private networking platform

Session leaders

The session leaders are highly experienced General Counsels, Senior Counsels, CEOs, Board members, and top leadership experts. Confirmed session leaders include:

  • Bob Bailey - Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Allergan

  • Stephen Cutler - Partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

  • Cynthia Dow - Leader, Global Legal, Regulatory & Compliance Officers Practice, Russell Reynolds Associates

  • Mark Goodman - Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

  • Mary Ann Hynes - Senior Counsel, Dentons; career General Counsel

  • Garrick Isert - President, Executas; past M.D. of World 50, Inc.

  • Nancy Jessen - Senior Vice President, Legal Business Solutions, UnitedLex

  • Maeve O’Connor - Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

  • Mark Pfister - M A Pfister Strategy Group; Board Advisor

  • Kim Rucker - Past Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary of Andeavor and Independent; Director of Lennox International, Celanese Corporation and Marathon Petroleum Corporation

  • Tom Sabatino - Board Member, Teligent; past Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Aetna; past GC of Hertz, United Airlines, Walgreens, Schering-Plough, Baxter

  • Bjarne Tellmann - General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer, Pearson 


Registration and light lunch

From noon to 12:30 pm.

SESSION 1: Knowing Yourself as a Leader

Dialogue with the participants What does your CEO and other constituents expect from you? Where are you strong, and what other capabilities do you need to build around you on your team? What is your leadership style, how well does it integrate with the rest of the C-Suite, and how effective is it with your people?

SESSION 2: Succeeding as a member of the top team

Dialogue: CEO and GC What is your role as GC and as a team player on the Executive Team? How should you work with the CEO? With other key executives, such as the CFO? What is your external-facing role for the company? How should you position your function’s role and responsibilities within the total organization?

SESSION 3: How to work effectively with a Board

Dialogue: Board member and Law Firm Senior Partner What do Boards truly expect from a GC? GC’s have a special governance role, as well as special responsibilities to the Board- and the CEO. What is the right approach to these roles and responsibilities? What is the right way to balance them? In what situations might it be necessary to keep Board confidences from the CEO, and vice-versa?


From 5:30 to 7 pm.


From 7 to 9 pm.


Light breakfast

From 8:30 to 9 am.

SESSION 4: Leading through a corporate crisis

Workshop Why are GC’s so often tapped to lead a crisis team? How should you handle the relationship in a crisis with the CEO, and peer executives? What should be your priorities in leading the way through a major crisis? Who should be the other members of a crisis team, and why? What role should outside experts play in supporting and advising you?

SESSION 5: Developing, focusing, and engaging your team

Breakout sessions GC direct reports, and their teams, must combine legal (and compliance) expertise with roles as business partners, and also as leaders of the business. How can you develop this important matrix of capabilities and relationships? What are the most important attitudes and capabilities to have on your Leadership Team? Law resources can be pulled in many directions; how do you set and keep the right focus?

SESSION 6: What are the key success factors in your role - and what does success look like over time?

Fireside chat It can be challenging to move from being a top lawyer, to a top leader. What is the right mindset, and what are the best support mechanisms, to do this successfully? Who leads in setting your agenda: the CEO, the Board, shareholders? If you had a scorecard, what would be the five key elements? What would success look like over a year? Over three years?


Closing remarks at 12 pm.