NEW AT THE TOP
Kristen Neller Verderame
Position : Chief counsel and senior vice president, government relations, BT Americas Inc.,part of BT (British Telecom) Group PLC. The American subsidiary is a provider of communications solutions to customers in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific.
Career highlights : Vice president, U.S. regulation and government relations, BT Americas; director, U.S. regulation and government relations, BT Americas; associate attorney, international trade group, Dewey Ballantine; and attorney, Sonnenberg, Anderson & Rodriguez.
Age : 37
Education : BA, political science, Albion College; JD, University of Michigan Law School; Post-JD course work, Georgetown University Law Center.
Personal : Lives in McLean with husband, Mike, and their children Bennett, 4, and Amy, 1.
How did you get to where you are?
I've wanted to be a lawyer from a very young age. My father was a judge in Michigan. I remember sitting in the courtroom watching him on the bench and being in awe of the whole process. As I got older, my father retired from public practice and practiced family law. And, at that time I started to think more internationally and I wanted to do something international. So by the time I got to college, I knew I wanted to do international work. I was also interested in public policy and law. I took classes in international relations and had an internship in Washington. When I went to law school I focused primarily on international studies and spent a summer studying international law in France.
When I graduated, I looked for a job doing something in international law, and that led me to Sonnenberg, which is a small firm specializing in customs and international trade law. I spent a year there. Then, Dewey hired me because they needed support for the steel anti-dumping cases. I worked there for approximately four years handling a variety of matters, including customs, international trade, the GATT [General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade] and similar areas. Around that time, the GATT began to include services and one of those services was telecommunications. So, I identified a niche area of specialization in trade and telecom.
There were many telecom and trade lawyers around, but very few who specialized in both. I took the opportunity to switch from a law firm to a corporate environment to join the Washington office of BT, where I could do just that. When I joined BT, I ran the Washington function under the direction of Jim Graf (James E. Graf), then president of BT North America. When he retired about three years later, I took over as head of the Washington office. In that role, I led the company's global trade policy as well as lobbying and government relations functions in the U.S. As an attorney, I also provided legal support to the company in Washington, particularly regulatory support and clearance of acquisitions with government agencies.
My interest in international [work] has driven me in every step of the way, following my interests and making sure I enjoy what I'm doing. I like working with people, whether it's internally with my colleagues or externally with people from different organizations. I'm motivated by solving problems and making a difference both for the business and for the people with whom I work.
-- Judith Mbuya