Susan Narimatsu, associate general counsel of special litigation at Sears Roebuck & Co., has spent the last five years rising through the ranks. In 1998, she accepted a position with Sears as senior counsel, in 2000 was promoted to associate general counsel for litigation, charged with supervising a staff of 12 in addition to her case-specific responsibilities. Two years later, Narimatsu made the transition from general litigation management to assume her current position as head of the Specialty Litigation group, handling mass tort litigation and related coverage issues. Her level of responsibility is significant, and making the switch entailed taking a risk, two things that Narimatsu did not shy away from.
“My biggest career challenge was actually deciding to begin again,” Narimatsu relates her decision to attend DePaul University College of Law after developing a career in nurse management. Nevertheless, Narimatsu’s determination to succeed was key to enabling her to overcome the difficulties she faced as first a student and then a new associate. Now she enjoys helping others to develop their potential.
As chair of the Sears Law Department Diversity Task Force, Narimatsu oversees the various diversity activities in the department, including tracking the number of minority and women outside counsel working on Sears matters to ensure the firms they work with are inclusive. In 2000, the team implemented Sears’ first legal internship program. Today, they are planning for their third group of law student interns.
By way of advice, Narimatsu shares, “I believe a good manager lets his or her team members shine, both individually and as a team. This puts credit for an accomplishment squarely where it belongs.”
From the March/April 2003 issue of Diversity & The Bar®