Growing up on a livestock farm in Central Illinois, Debra Kuper thought becoming a lawyer would mean leaving the agriculture industry behind. But as vice president, general counsel and secretary of farm equipment manufacturer AGCO Corp., she unites her history on the farm with her skills as an attorney every single day.
"I know the customers," she says. "I know the importance of having a sophisticated piece of machinery. I know it's their livelihood."
Q: How has the legal department changed since you've been with the company?
A: I hired two new patent attorneys. I'm trying to bring some of that patent work in-house because it's proprietary; it's competitive. I'm looking into hiring an information technology attorney because we have to meet emission requirements, manage e-commerce and oversee all this sophisticated technology. When I get r?sum?s, I have a little file that I keep for compliance experts because I'd like to have a compliance officer. Right now I'm the compliance officer, but I'm also the general counsel, and I really think you need someone dedicated just to compliance.