Position: Senior vice president and chief legal officer, Stratos Global Corp. of Bethesda, an international telecommunications services and solutions provider.
Career highlights: General counsel, Worldwide Retail Exchange; general counsel, Kokua Communications, London; senior attorney, Comsat International; corporate associate, Steptoe & Johnson; federal judicial clerk, Judge Jan E. Dubois, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Education: BA, economics, University of Pennsylvania; JD, Yale Law School.
Personal: Lives in Arlington.
How did you get to where you are?
A common thread throughout my career has been applying my legal skills to businesses looking to grow and expand. In my career, I've been focused on finding really strong management teams with a high degree of integrity and the intellectual wherewithal to capitalize on the opportunities in the market place. I've been fortunate to find such teams on a consistent basis, and it's very much the case at Stratos.
I started my legal career at Steptoe & Johnson here in Washington. At Steptoe, I had a chance to develop the core legal skills that I've continued to rely on throughout my legal career. I worked in the corporate and banking group at Steptoe doing a mix of corporate transactional work and securities law. But what I realized is that I was as interested in the business side of the work as I was in the legal, and I wanted to go in-house to work more closely with the business teams. I left Steptoe to go to Comsat International, a division of Comsat Corp. At Comsat, I had responsibilities to work for several of the operating companies in Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. I spent a fair amount of time on the road representing those operating companies and helping to grow their businesses. What I found particularly rewarding was the chance to use my legal skills to help businesses achieve their strategic objectives.
The biggest break I had was getting tapped to become general counsel of a company based in Europe, Kokua Communications. Kokua was a satellite-based service provider offering high-speed Internet access to companies based in Europe. The opportunity gave me the chance to head up the legal function and also to work overseas and get additional international experience under my belt. It opened up the door to other chief legal positions, and in particular, companies with international operations. After helping Kokua get off the ground, I returned to the U.S. to take a general-counsel position in the high-tech area with the Worldwide Retail Exchange, a B2B [business-to-business] exchange representing the largest U.S. and international retail companies. At Worldwide Retail, I found a very talented and deep executive team committed to growing the company in this new technology space. However, as in the past, I have found myself pulled to new opportunities which allow me to continue to make a contribution. While I have not plotted out my career in any sort of linear progression, the principle I have adhered to is to seek out and work with talented individuals striving to grow a business. The nice thing about Stratos is it is very much a coming together of the many areas in which I practiced. For one, it is a return to satellite telecommunications. Second, as with each of the companies I've been with it has a very strong, highly-motivated team of professionals at the helm. And, third, there is a real opportunity to help the company grow through acquisition opportunities with a strong emphasis in the international arena.
-- Judith Mbuya