Sweet Success

To read the full interview with Welch's GC Vivian Tseng, click here.


Q: Tell me a little about your background. What was your undergrad major and why did you decide to go into law?

A: I was able to devise my own major, Political Theory, a sort of compromise between political science (which can lack sufficient conceptual content) and political philosophy (which can get overly esoteric). I wasn't sure I wanted to go to law school until I had a taste of graduate school and realized that I did not want a career in academia. Law school allowed me a path to connect with the "real world."

Q: What was your first job out of law school (until you went in-house)?

A: I joined the general practice law firm of Tillinghast Collins & Gram in Providence, R. I. It was a wonderful experience because they had an official rotation program for new associates and I was able to spend meaningful time in each major area of practice: litigation, corporate, tax, commercial and trust & estates. That broad exposure was really invaluable, and I think that it stood me in very good stead when I later went in-house. After a few years, I left to join Foley Hoag & Eliot in Boston, specializing in tax. From there, I left for Welch's.

Q: What do you like most about your job at Welch's?

A: Well, quite frankly, I like being in charge. But there are days when I would envy one of my direct reports and think, oh if I only had his job things would be easier. But I enjoy being the adviser that I am to the two Boards and to the management and to the CEO. I mire that counseling with a small "c" more then anything else. It's that one-on-one counseling that's very fulfilling.

I'm enjoying the fruits of my years. I'm a very senior person in this organization and I think, knock on wood or at the risk of sounding a little overly self-satisfied, I really feel that I have the respect and the well-regard of the entire organization just because I've been around for so long as well as up and down through the ranks. We have a fairly stable employee population so over time you get to know a lot of people in all the nooks and crannies of the organization. It's very fulfilling.

Q: How did you manage being an active career woman and a mother?

A: I have two children. My daughter is in her first year of college and my younger child is a junior in high school. My life over time has become balanced. Again you do these things sequentially.

I was very active before I had children and then I stopped because when your kids are young, there's plenty else to do. And I started re-entering the bar association voluntary world when my daughter started high school. I was out for a good period of time. And more recently I've been able to come back.

There are no magic answers to the work-life balance, and I don't know that there's any solution to that time period of every mother's life when your kids are young. I mean I've always worked full time. I've only taken the three-month maternity leave, and I remember so vividly to this day what it was like when my kids were young. And when you're that busy for a period of years, what happens is you don't remember because the pace is such that something doesn't sink in. And one doesn't remember. So I tell younger women that you can't have it all. There are sacrifices and one should be realistic about that.


Cathleen Flahardy

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.