the company also does face-to-face interactive
code of conduct training that has drawn positive feedback. Regardless, it’s Honeywell’s ethos
to be consistent across regions.
Her longterm goal is to develop her labor
and employment cohort so that one day she
will be Despard’s replacement. By that time,
ideally, whenever Honeywell enters a new
country, the entrance will be seamless.
Chasing the ideal
Despard grew up far from the glowing metropolis of Singapore. Raised near the bucolic fields
of Amish country, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
she idolized her grandfather, who was a small
town lawyer. She graduated from William &
Mary College in Virginia and later attended
Loyola University in Chicago for law school.
Despard recommends doing externships in
law school. A common critique of the legal
education is the lack of real-world experience.
At Loyola, she got credit for externships that
allowed her to see law in practice.
Despard always had a strong connection to
nature and wanted to save the environment.
She soon realized that environmental lawyers mostly focus on document analysis and
consultation with experts and spend less time
hiking through rainforests. Instead, she turned
to general litigation. Employment law struck a
nerve with her. After all, most people spend a
significant part of their lives at work. In short,
it’s meaningful work. She also adds that the
cases typically move along quickly. A typical
case only takes one to two years.
After working for Littler Mendelson, P.C. in
Chicago, where she made partner, she decided
to go in-house. While she enjoyed trial work,
she did not savour bringing in business.
She moved to California to work for Covad
Communications, a startup that focused on
the then-new technology voice-over-IP. “It was
probably the biggest education I got anywhere
in my career because I went from consulting
clients and advising them and litigating to
having to know everything like how to defend
a worker’s comp claim, or where you have to
submit unemployment taxes,” she reflects. She
wasn’t supposed to hire outside counsel so she
had to learn everything.
After four years, she moved to Intel
Corporation, which had its policies and
procedures in place. “I had a lot of challenges,”
she remembers. She was the HR attorney sup-
porting their worldwide compensation and
California litigation. It was only a few months
later that her colleague returned from Hong
Kong and she fatefully raised her hand to see if
she could work in the Asia Pacific region. She’s
glad she did. ACC
BY JOSHUA H. SHIELDS
Getting to Know…
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES AND
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN?
I have a seven and an eight year old,
two sons, and so my free time I basically
spend with them. We really like Singapore
and it has amazing nature. They have
an incredible park system with lots of
activities. They have mangrove forests;
they have beaches. So, the dog and the
kids and my husband and I are often out
in nature in Singapore. We love travel.
We’re in the great part of the world to
travel so we take some pretty great trips. I
try to bring them along maybe once a year
on a work trip and then we kind of expand
that into a vacation. But my kids are pretty
seasoned travelers and we go hiking,
we go to the beach, we zip line, we ride
elephants — we do all sorts of fun stuff.
DO YOU HAVE A VACATION PLANNED?
Yeah, actually I do because Chinese
New Year is coming up. My parents
are coming and we’re taking them to
Thailand, and then my husband and I
are going to the Maldives to dive with
whale sharks for our anniversary right
after that because my parents will be
there to take care of the kids. One of the
challenges of being so far from home is
having family help out with the kids.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FOOD?
My dad raised lamb and I’ve always
loved it and will order it any time it’s
on the menu. But living and traveling
in Asia, I am up for anything from
Singapore Chili Crab to Xiao Long Bao!
TIPS & INSIGHTS
ACC DOCKET APRIL 2017 63
ACC EXTRAS ON…
Employment and labor
Ready to Dive In: How
to Prepare Lawyers
for In-house Careers
(Jan/Feb. 2017). www.
The Value of Ethics: How
Joana Guerra Transformed
Compliance at Nestlé
(Dec. 2016). www.
Top Ten Data Privacy
Employment and Labor
Law (July/Aug. 2016).
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