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2018 Top 10 30-Somethings: Diana Toman

Top Ten 30 Somethings
The sixth day on the job, Diana Toman descended 1,800 feet under Lake Huron in the largest underground rock salt mine in the world in Goderich, Ontario, Canada. She was getting to know the board of directors of her new company, Compass Minerals, a leading provider of essential minerals.

As the first in-house general counsel of the company, it was imperative for Toman to know the business inside and out, below ground and above. Less than 60 days later, she helped negotiate and close the first phase of a US$600 million acquisition of a Brazilian company that led the US$1.1 billion company into a new era of growth.

Toman's journey in-house started in high school on the debate team. She graduated from college with honors and a double major in three years. As she was entering law school, she knew she wanted to be a general counsel and focused her elective course work on what she thought an in-house lawyer would need to be successful.

Within a year of practicing law at a firm, she went in-house at Waddell & Reed, a publicly traded financial services company. Shortly after, she recognized the benefit of enhancing her business and accounting acumen and earned an MBA. Toman shared that earning her MBA was "a pivotal moment in her in-house career and broadened her approach to complex commercial and legal matters."

Before Toman joined Compass Minerals, she honed her business sensibilities while working for General Cable Corporation, at the time a publicly traded Fortune 500 wire and cable manufacturer. In 2014, she was promoted from her corporate role to a dual strategy and legal leadership role based in Thailand. She moved her family to the other side of the world for an assignment to provide both strategic and legal leadership to support the growth of the company's APAC region.

Soon, her role transitioned to leading the divestiture of General Cable's subsidiaries and joint ventures across Asia and Africa with over US$1 billion in revenue, while serving as the managing director of the company's Thai subsidiary. Her husband would joke that while the family lived in Bangkok, she lived on a plane.

To add to the stress, a military coup was declared in the Thai capital while she was house hunting and continued during her assignment in Thailand. Despite the challenges, she says the opportunity to lead employees from Zambia to New Zealand fundamentally changed and influenced her outlook on leadership.

Toman shares: "The opportunity to lead people across multiple cultures and time zones through a challenging transition was instrumental in my leadership journey and great preparation for my current role as general counsel of a global company."

At Compass Minerals, Toman has created a legal function that is viewed as a strategic business partner throughout the company. However, this did not happen overnight. e company previously had an external general counsel supported by a boutique law firm as well as other outside law firms; the transition to the in-house model took time and concerted efforts.

In the past, legal was primarily viewed as a service provider and not a partner. Business teams were wary of involving legal because of the high costs. Toman and her newly created team focused on delivering high quality legal support, as well as educating colleagues on how the legal team could help them be successful.

Each member of Compass Minerals' legal team understands and supports the business through collaboration, a shared focus on value creation, and mutual respect to achieve the best outcome for the company.

In addition to supporting the business, one of her early priorities was assessing and bolstering the company's compliance and governance practices. With the company's international expansion, Toman recognized the importance of having a compliance program that could evolve as the company continued to grow.

Within the first six months of her tenure, Compass Minerals had a new, user-friendly code of ethics that incorporated the company's core values and was relatable to employees throughout the company. She also enhanced the company's compliance efforts using the latest technology for training, an ethics hotline, and third-party screening.

With Toman's guidance, Compass Minerals is pointing in the right direction.

More 2018 Top 10 30-Somethings

Sheila Bangalore

Christopher Y. Chan

Steve Gangemi

Mary Gritzmacher

Paul Lanois

Olga V. Mack

Shelly Paioff

Julie Ryan

Greg Wu

About the Author

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

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