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2018 Top 10 30-Somethings: Olga V. Mack

Top Ten 30 Somethings
There's a belief that the ability to produce art is an innate gift that can't be learned. As a young girl growing up in Ukraine and Russia, Olga V. Mack was fascinated by the ability to take 3D reality and transform it into a 2D work of art. "I always thought that was a kind of magic," she remembers. Art didn't come naturally to her — her mom joked that her artwork was first from the back in her kindergarten classroom. Yet, throughout her life, Mack has been drawn to the seemingly impossible. With a twist in her thinking, a nimble strategy, and a lot of hard work, she has repeatedly achieved what she calls simply improbable.

It was improbable that she would attend undergrad, and then law school, at UC Berkeley when she barely spoke English as an adolescent living in Northern California after emigrating from her native Ukraine. It was unlikely that she would graduate as a valedictorian of her Berkeley class. It was implausible that she would be named general counsel of an innovative technology company fewer than 10 years after receiving her JD. It was inconceivable that she could spearhead a grassroots movement to add more women to Fortune 500 boards. And, it was doubtful that, after all these legal achievements, she would move to a non-legal role. But it wasn't impossible! "Everything relates back to the strategy," Mack advises, starting with her dream of becoming a lawyer when she wasn't confident enough to speak up in high school. It was only during the valedictorian speech, in a full theater that held over 8,000 people, that she truly found her voice.

Ever since, she has been using her voice to advocate for justice. She founded the Women Serve On Boards movement in 2015 that, with a Twitter campaign and numerous petitions, convinced Fortune 500 companies to recruit women to their boards for the first time. In the process of advocating she wrote All [A]Board: Your Journey to Becoming a Corporate Director, a primer on the responsibilities of corporate board members to demystify the board journey for all professionals.

Then at the end of 2017 and in early 2018, she contributed and testified to pass two California state bills that, if signed, would promote gender parity on corporate and government boards. In March 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Mack to the California Law Review Commission, which examines the state's laws and provides possible reforms. "In the long run, pursuing these causes makes me a much happier professional because I'm able to use my talents, passion, and training to change the world around me in a positive way," she reflects.

Mack admits that she didn't know what type of law she wanted to practice when she graduated from law school — it just needed to involve the intersection of technology and law. In true Silicon Valley fashion, she pivoted among different jobs and industries, always learning along the way. She was drawn to startups, where she led companies through critical transactions. Those high-stress situations — IPO filings, M&A negotiations, financing rounds, security breaches, employee surprises, and the like — she euphemistically calls learning-rich environments.

It's important, Mack notes, to recognize the difficult situations as learning opportunities, not only for yourself but for the rest of your team. Having the emotional intelligence to guide colleagues through stressful transitions, resilience to withstand pressure, foresight to think a few steps ahead, and perseverance to execute long-term goals are some of the most valuable skills any professional, including a lawyer, can develop, she says.

Maybe it isn't surprising then that Mack would take a non-legal role working for a company that has the potential to transform the way businesses is conducted. At Quantstamp, she is leading the company's strategy around the cutting-edge technology, with an important mission to secure smart contracts. She observes, "All amazing lawyers moonlight as part-time strategists. I am excited to have a job where I can focus on Quantstamp's long-term priorities daily." She admits that securing smart contracts may be a lofty mission, though with a right strategy she is certain that it will soon become a reality.

More 2018 Top 10 30-Somethings

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Christopher Y. Chan

Steve Gangemi

Mary Gritzmacher

Paul Lanois

Shelly Paioff

Julie Ryan

Diana Toman

Greg Wu

About the Author

Joshua H. Shields is the managing editor of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

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