During 2016, I have had the opportunity to interview leaders from around the Laureate network in our “Laureate Leadership Perspectives” series. This month, I turned my attention to a new leader at Laureate, Victoria Silbey. On August 31st, Laureate announced the appointment of Victoria as our new Senior Vice President, Secretary, and Chief Legal Officer, succeeding Bob Zentz who is retiring after 20 years as Laureate’s General Counsel.
After spending nearly 11 years as Chief Legal Officer and Senior Vice President at SunGard Data Systems Inc., a global software and services company, we are so pleased that Victoria decided that the next phase of her career would be with Laureate. I recently sat down with Victoria to learn more about her new role and what excited her most about joining Laureate.
Esther Benjamin: Tell us more about what attracted you to Laureate.
Victoria Silbey: I was attracted by several things about Laureate. First, the mission and vision of Laureate. I love that Laureate is making education available and affordable for more and more people around the world. Second, I was attracted by the scale and potential of Laureate to continue to grow. The challenges and opportunities this creates is very interesting and motivating to me.
EB: During your recent presentation at the Senior Global Leaders (SGL) meeting, you spoke about Laureate being a value-based public company. What message would you share with our employees worldwide about this?
VS: I think that it is critical to remember our spirit of being Here for Good; we are here for purpose and for permanence. This spirit, along with our ethical and legal obligations to act in a responsible manner, is ingrained in our culture and is something we need to continue to foster and strengthen.
EB: A good example of how we have been able to embed this into our culture has been through our journey as a Certified B Corporation and Public Benefit Corporation. What do you think about what Laureate has done with respect to these?
VS: I think it’s wonderful that we have become both – they are a good recognition of what we were already doing and what we will continue to do. It is nice to have these seals of approval, but we need to use that momentum to continue to find sustainable ways to scale our impact.
EB: What are your priorities that you would want for colleagues to be aware of going forward?
VS: Obviously, a big part of my role is to make sure we are complying with the law. Second, we have an incredible legal team here, and I want to help this group to continue to align itself with the business strategy of the company. My priority in this role is really to enhance our systems and our practices so that any potential legal issues do not distract the businesses from doing what they do best around the world.
EB: At the SGL Meeting, you and I had the privilege of attending a reception with the senior women leaders at Laureate. As one of the most senior women in the company, what advice can you offer to the other women in the Laureate network?
VS: It was terrific and inspiring to meet these amazing Laureate women leaders in Miami, and a great way to start my time at Laureate. Laureate is ripe with opportunities for professional and personal development. My advice would be to take advantage of these opportunities. You will get to do and learn new things, and meet new people. As you take on more challenges, more and more opportunities will open up.
EB: In the true spirit of being Here for Good, you are taking on leading the United Way Campaign. Why did you take this on, and what do you hope to achieve?
VS: I think it is very important that we continue to participate and give back to local communities. I have been a long supporter of non-profits and serve on the board of one in the community where I live. I particularly like United Way because it does such an incredible job supporting other organizations through earmarked donations or individual general donations in the United States. Our goal with this year’s campaign is to raise $200,000. I hope that the good-hearted employees at Laureate will consider contributing to this campaign!
EB: We look forward to working with you and getting to know you better. Tell us something more personal about you.
VS: We all work very hard and the time outside work is precious, so I love spending it with my family. I have two kids in high school, my husband is also a lawyer, and I have a dog. We are pretty simple people. We love watching sporting events, or going on family trips. One daily tradition that we have managed to continue since the kids were little, is that every night after dinner we go for a walk around the neighborhood. This continues to keep us close and connected in a special way.
I want to thank Victoria for taking the time to talk with me, and for her thoughts about our network, along with her dedication to our mission. We are looking forward to working with her to continue finding creative ways to integrate our Here for Good spirit into everything we do.