Ensuring the well-being of your team in a high-level, holistic manner.

CCBJ: Tell us about your role as Director of Health and Well-Being at Akin Gump.

Kimm Merkel: At Akin Gump, we believe that benefits play an integral part in a person’s ability to manage work and life outside the office. We have a team mantra that says it’s important to meet people where they are. Individual needs differ so greatly, so it can be a challenge, but it does guide us in our programming, as well as how I approach my responsibilities. We focus on providing high-quality, competitive programs that arm each individual with resources so that they can make informed decisions.

That covers traditional benefits, like medical, dental and vision, but over the last number of years, it’s also been coupled with a strong focus on well-being, which at Akin Gump is defined as one’s physical, mental, financial and social/community health. We must be balanced in each of these respects, or we could potentially suffer in all of them. For example, if we are struggling with our finances, stressing and worrying about money, that can take a mental or physical toll on a person, and it could
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The Gates Foundation’s Keith Matthews explains what satisfies his soul and makes him happy to come to work every day.

CCBJ: Your career followed an interesting and varied path to the Gates Foundation. Can you tell us about that?

Keith Matthews: Professionally, my first job out of college was as a credit analyst and later a middle-market loan officer at what is now JPMorgan Chase. With that background – and with a finance degree from college – I knew early on in my career that I wanted to focus on transactional work.
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Connie Collingsworth is chief business operations officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her remarks have been edited for length and style.

CCBJ: What led you to pursue a career in law?

Connie Collingsworth: I was somewhat strong-willed, always standing up for what was right, and I wanted to be an independent professional.
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Gage Johnson is senior VP, general counsel and secretary of Paramount Group Inc., a New York City-based public REIT. His remarks have been edited for length and style.

CCBJ: How did you become a lawyer?

Gage Johnson: When I was a kid, there was a TV show called “Perry Mason,” a lawyer who helped people out of jams. Mason also always won and was fun to watch. My dad, a lawyer in Bowling Green, Kentucky, looked like Perry Mason. He became a judge, so it was natural for me to become a lawyer.
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ACC’s 101-page annual CLO survey is a monument to the growing clout of top legal executives across the globe. Indeed, if they get any more influential, the CEO will report to the CLO instead of the other way around. ACC is not shy in blowing the horn for its constituents. “Based upon the feedback received from 1,275 CLOs in 48 countries,” it says, “with the publication of this 2018 CLO Survey, ACC marks the start of the Age of the Chief Legal Officer.”
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