General Counsel and Mentor: Cornell Boggs
Cornell Boggs credits his success to a series of role models and mentors throughout his life. Recently appointed general counsel for Tyco Plastics and Adhesives, Boggs now finds himself on the other side of that equation, eagerly volunteering to mentor lawyers at the beginning of their careers.
“I always try to be available to young attorneys,” said Boggs, who counsels young minority lawyers through the Charting Your Own Course Foundation. “The mentoring experiences have been very special and good.”
Oladapo Otunla, an attorney for McKee Nelson in Washington, D.C., met Boggs through the Charting Your Own Course Foundation. He credits Boggs with helping him manage a career crisis.
“I’ve had a fantastic experience with Cornell. He’s everything a mentor should be. I just hope to see our relationship continue as it has.”
Boggs also volunteers with the mentoring program at his alma mater, Valparaiso Law School in Indiana, where he has twice been awarded the Alumni Service Award, in 1999 and 2000 for his efforts.
“He bends over backwards for our students,” said Lisa Cannon, director of career counseling for the school’s Career Planning Center.
Boggs readily admits to owing much of his own success to other accomplished people. “I always have been around positive, achieving people, who had interesting backgrounds,” he said.
Boggs, who grew up in Germany and Italy, returned to the United States to study journalism at Valparaiso University. Two experiences there led him into law: service on the school’s Honor Council and his friendship with Richard Deusenberg, retired senior vice-president and general counsel of Monsanto, who was a board member of Valparaiso’s law school. Deusenberg would visit the school each year to counsel students.
“I would stop in and chat with him about law, strategy, career decisions,” Boggs said, “and I began to think it would be neat to be a corporate lawyer.”
Following law school at Valparaiso and two-and-a-half years as a trial lawyer for the U.S. government, Boggs was ready for corporate law and joined the law department at Monsanto.
In 1995, he moved on to Anheuser-Busch. Three years later, he found himself involved in a vitally important case. The company was positioned to be a sponsor of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, but because of the state’s laws that prohibited the advertising of alcoholic beverages, the company’s sponsorship of events there did not make sense. Boggs’ outstanding advocacy work with Lewis McKinney, the company’s senior director of industry and government affairs, and the local A-B wholesaler community concluded with the laws being declared unenforceable, which then cleared the way for Anheuser-Busch’s robust showing at the Olympics.
After his Olympian success at Anheuser-Busch, Boggs was eager to follow the footsteps of his sister Paula Boggs (then deputy general counsel for Dell Computer Company) by joining the high-tech industry, and he accepted a position to become Americas regional counsel and legal manager for chipmaker Intel’s sales and marketing organization in the Unites States, Canada and Latin America. He also led the Intel legal department diversity committee.
“A team comprised of individuals with divergent views and not one narrow opinion, always adds value to the company,” he said. “A company that brings in diverse views finds a value-added solution to most issues it faces.”
Boggs recently embarked on what might be his greatest challenge to date, building a division-level legal department at Tyco.
“I’m crafting and designing the whole gamut of legal processes to fit the plastics and adhesives department,” he said.
As a result, he’s globetrotting to meet with various lawyers who work for Tyco or who cover businesses in the Tyco portfolio. This latest challenge is one Boggs is tackling with customary dedication and enthusiasm.
“I’m very happy to be where I am in my career,” Boggs concluded.
He also looks forward to the future success of his own three children, and continuing the cycle of giving back.
Tom Calarco is a freelance writer from Schenectady, N.Y. He is the Author of The Underground Railroad Conductor, which is available for purchase online at www.travelsthruhistory.com/books.htm. His next work-in-progress, The Underground Railroad in the Adirondack Region, is set for publication in the near future.
From the November/December 2003 issue of Diversity & The Bar®