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Transformative Leaders: Meet J.M. Smucker GC Jeanette Knudsen

J.M. Smucker GC Jeanette Knudsen reveals why collaborative relationships are key and the importance of distinguishing between legal and business advice.

In early August, Corporate Counsel announced the 2017 list of Transformative Leaders—those women general counsel who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and business acumen as they have guided their organizations through often treacherous roads to achieve success. These Transformative Leadership honorees stand out because they are business strategists, complex problem-solvers, and of course, great lawyers. And as important (especially to them) is that they are great people-leaders—they care more about the success of the team than their individual success.

Tonight we announce the winners as the honorees gather to celebrate each other at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C., during the Women, Influence & Power in Law conference (WIPL) taking place Oct 10-12.

You will see in-depth profiles of the winners later this year in the pages of Corporate Counsel. For now, get snapshots of the honorees who participated in our survey to learn their lessons in leadership.

Jeannette Kndusen, The J. M. Smucker Company
Senior VP, General Counsel, & Secretary, 7 years

Nominated for: Retail & Consumer Goods

Jeannette Knudsen has been Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at The J. M. Smucker Company since May 1, 2016, August 2010 and May 2009 respectively. Knudsen joined The J. M. Smucker Company in 2002 and has been its Acquisition and Securities Counsel and Assistant Secretary since 2007. She served as Vice President of The J. M. Smucker Company from April 2010 to March 18, 2016.

 What is the best leadership advice you provided to a member of your legal team in the last year and why do you think it was effective? 

Continue to engage with people on a personal level, not just a business level, to build strong, collaborative relationships.  I believe that creating strong relationships is effective because it creates trust and leads to further collaboration and inclusion.  It allows people to share their ideas and insights openly and creates an ongoing seat at the table when people are aware of where an individual can add value.

Looking back, what do you wish you had known when you became a General Counsel?

I wish I would have had a better appreciation for the need to expressly identify and differentiate between legal advice and business advice.

If you moved on from your role tomorrow, what contribution do you most want to be remembered for?

I want to be remembered for evolving the view of the legal and compliance teams to that of problem solvers who add value by bringing broad business and legal perspectives to creatively help the business teams meet their objectives.

Contributing Author

Inside Counsel Staff

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