Talking Head with Carolyn Herzog, EVP and General Counsel at ARM

13 Oct 14:00 by Clare Beresford


The Laurence Simons Search Talking Head series continues with an interview with Carolyn Herzog, EVP, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary at ARM, the world’s leading semiconductor IP company.

Prior to joining ARM, Carolyn was Chief Compliance Officer, VP and Deputy General Counsel at Symantec Corporation. Carolyn has served on the European Board of the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Board for the National Cyber Security Alliance, and is an Advisory Board member to IPWatch System Corporation.

Carolyn believes in equal rights for all people and has taken leadership roles in women’s rights advocacy throughout her career, similarly to Clare Beresford, CEO at Laurence Simons Search, who catches up with Carolyn to discuss all things career, challenges and diversity related!

CB: Good afternoon Carolyn.  Thank you for taking the time to chat to me today. Please can you tell us about yourself?

CH: I currently live in California, Silicon Valley.  I’m married – my husband is a full time parent, (a choice he made from the time my first child was born), and I have 2 wonderful daughters – teenagers, one just started college and both are studying from home. 

We moved to California from London where we lived for 5 amazing years (I would have stayed), and before that lived in DC – we are both from Wisconsin.  My parents are originally from NY and moved to Wisconsin when my father was in his residency.  My grandparents on one side moved to NY during WWII as Jewish immigrants from Austria, on the other side, the grandparents moved earlier from Russia – all part of the American melting pot.  Growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, we were one of very few Jewish families. It seemed to me that everyone else was tall, blonde and either of Norwegian or German heritage.  I loved growing up there, however – it was an amazing childhood. Sometimes, different just gives you a broader lens. That is not to dismiss some of the discrimination that I felt; and I also recognize that the sting of discrimination is unfortunately too great a consideration for too many children growing up around the world today.  

I went to college at Washington University in St. Louis and studied French and Music and I could not wait to go abroad, which I did both my summer before college and my junior year – both times to France. 

And, after college, I worked in the Africa Department in the World Bank – to me, being immersed in international cultures and speaking French every day was sublime.  Once again, being different in this environment was a wonderful experience for me. There were very few Americans who were fortunate enough to work at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.  I think my life goal at the time was to have any career that would define me as being “interesting”.  Ambassador to France would have been at the top of my list of career options – it may still be. 

CB: Please can you tell me about the moment you decided to become a lawyer?

CH: Ha!  I think it’s when I realized that I absolutely needed to go to graduate school and I was never going to pass a statistics class.  Words are by far more my speed than numbers and I have always been more of a social justice warrior than a spreadsheet warrior – I do love a written opinion.  In fact, both of my managers at The World Bank kept asking me when I was going to go to Law School – I am not sure it was my idea at all.  I have always been fortunate in my career, (bar an unfortunate experience in fast food), in that my managers have promoted my development.  I have known quite a few brilliant people that were stunted in their careers only because they had managers that did not care for their development.  Everyone deserves an opportunity to be their best self at work and outside of work. 

Even when I went to law school, I kept an open mind as to what my career might become.  I would encourage more law schools to promote more creativity in their career development programs – there is not a single path to success after law school; success does not mean going to the highest paying law firm or highest paying job.  I was fortunate that I attended the right school for me – in attending a more public policy oriented school, the curriculum was not just focused on black letter law, and the student body had interests that expanded careers beyond joining just the biggest law firms. 

CB: When were you most challenged as a lawyer and how did you overcome it?

CH: I took a role leading the team for Symantec in the UK for EMEA.  The leader of the region did not initially want me there and my team was not appreciated at the time.  When I first arrived, it was clear that the GM was interested in replacing me and the team as a whole felt that they were not adding value to the business. I had just moved my young children and my husband to another country and had doubts about my abilities to succeed.  I felt bullied and my team was terrified.  At one point, the GM sent a note to my boss, explaining how my team had failed, once again.  When I tried to defend their actions, my boss wrote back to me and gave me the most valuable lesson of my career.  He wrote one line:

              “Perception is reality.” 

I was indignant.  I thought it was impossible that my wonderful boss could be so unsupportive.  I naturally went home and took it out on my poor husband!  It was only fair.  Then I slept on it.  Angry. By the time I took the train – and the bus – and was rained on – again – and walked into the office the next day, everything had changed.  My manager was right.  Perception is reality.  If the GM thought my team was wrong, my team was wrong.  And I was going to fix it.  From then on, I smothered him with questions, corrections and kindness.  And that has been my mantra ever since.  I do not try to defend – I listen, and I fix.  If that is someone’s perception, it does not matter if I think they are right or wrong.  I am going to put myself in their shoes and I am going to meet them where they are.  That does not mean that I do not vigorously defend my team – I am often told that I am a fierce defender of my team and I am quite proud of that.  But I bring any naysayer on a journey with me.  I don’t fight for everything, just for the things that are really worth it.  It is the RBG way.  RBG is my absolute hero and while I could not hope to achieve her level of ladylike leadership or intellectual abilities, I admire her greatly and try to take baby steps in her shadow.  My daughters sleep in RBG t-shirts, I have every RBG book and my team has given me every RBG little trinket you could imagine.  

CB: What are you most proud of in your career to date?

CH: I am most proud of the friendships that I have made and the people that tell me that I have helped them with their career development journey.  I am also proud of the teams that I have connected and that tell me that they became a better functioning team after we came together. 

CB: Diversity and inclusion is very important to Laurence Simons Search, I am an active member of the 30% Club, and we consistently ask our clients about their D&I policies as part of our due diligence.  Can you please tell us a bit more about your role as a corporate ambassador for Everywoman?

CH: I sometimes wonder if I was born with my tiny fist in the air ;).  I am a big fan of Everywoman but have been less involved day to day with Everywoman than I have with other organisations to be honest.  D&I has been a growth journey for Arm, as it is for many organisations.  What I have found within Arm, which I enjoy is that the “I” in D&I is very authentic and embedded, and we need to do more work on the “D”. Since I joined Arm, I have been the Executive Sponsor for the Women’s Initiative globally – and this is consistent with my historical involvement with diversity.  I often note that women, as the largest under-represented minority, have the opportunity – the obligation – to bring other under-represented groups along with us. We need to consider how we can include the LGBTQ, Hispanic and Black communities in our activities and discussions because all of these minority groups are represented in our community.  We can be an ally, while we cannot always walk a mile in their shoes.   

When I interviewed for the role at Arm, the CEO spent more time (honestly) in my first interview asking me about my record on D&I and CSR than about my legal career – it was the first sign that I knew Arm could be a good home for me.  And he has been sincere in his commitment to D&I ever since.   Arm has been committed to growing its gender diversity, which has increased by approximately 4% since I joined the company, and we are particularly focused on women in technical roles. 

We, like many companies, are now turning more focus onto our minority recruitment and development.  We are asking our employees to help us with this by improving our data and we are bringing in experts to help us understand our gaps and provide expert training in areas where we need greater sensitivity and understanding.  We know that we cannot presume to understand to meet people where they are with our current knowledge – we all have to start over and we need to bring in experts that can help us with that.  Arm has been working with Catalyst (https://www.catalyst.org) globally for over a year – they are a data-driven organisation which suits our needs, and of course we also work with Everywoman in the UK.  We also work with wonderful organisations like GLAM (https://www.glam-readytolead.com) and Watermark (https://www.wearewatermark.org) – we participate in local Pride events and we are sponsoring programs to bring in more diverse candidates for our graduate recruiting programs, this year with a greater focus on minority recruitment. 

Arm is deeply invested in our D&I programs and our culture means everything to us, but we also recognise that we have a long way to go.  Any company that tells you that they have this solved, unless they are a small minority or women-owned business, is probably not being honest with themselves.  Within our legal department, we are experimenting with new things, such as diversifying our firms and trying to work with small, minority owned or women-owned firms.  And we require all our firms to share with us what they are doing on diversity so that they know that this is important to us. We review our panels for diversity, and we want to ensure that our team members have opportunities to work with a diverse slate of external counsel.  We also recognise that in a global environment, we should have different expectations in different parts of the world. 

CB: Please share with us what diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you, and why they are important.

CH: First, being inclusive means that you create space for all voices around the currently virtual table to be heard.  The introverts and the extroverts, the dissenting voices and the voices that are aligned. It is not an easy thing to do, but when you do this well, this is where the power of innovation is fuelled and where curiosity finds its inspiration. Ultimately, diversity is not about the colour of someone’s skin, their religion, or their gender, but these diverse backgrounds inform our experiences and bring to the table a perspective that allow for greater creativity and thus, greater innovation.  It is no wonder that study after study demonstrate that greater diversity outperforms homogeneous environments.  But this is the business case.  To me diversity, equity and inclusion is just the right thing to do –it is the world I want to live in and that I want my children to live in.  My first LP was Diana Ross, my second LP was Rod Stewart (classics – I knew what I was doing at 5 years old), my third LP was Free to Be, You and Me.  I listened to it over and over again.  It included songs about boys and girls that wanted to grow up to be anything they wanted to be, kids of all skin tones that played well together, a girl that didn’t want to get married and could run faster than anyone else, a boy that wanted a doll… a beautiful world. 

CB: How would you advocate for diversity and inclusion with colleagues who do not understand its importance?

CH: Let’s just say, we have all GOT to do better than our politicians.  In the words of the wise and wonderful Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the Notorious RBG, “Fight for things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you”.   It is a huge challenge not to turn people away.  But we must be respectful of the views of others, try to see the world from their eyes and then, only then, invite them to listen to your perspective.  Also, facts and data speak far louder than opinion – so state what you believe, but be prepared to back it up with facts.   

CB: In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of working in a diverse environment?

CH:  The most challenging aspect of working in a diverse environment, in my opinion, is not following through on commitments, not providing the inclusion that we thought we were offering.  It is so easy to believe that we are doing all the right things and to completely miss an opportunity to be more diverse and to be more inclusive.   People have to trust you.  When I am in the safe company of women, we share the same stories – the number of times we raised a point and were ignored, only to have a man raise it later and be acknowledged; the number of times we were overlooked for promotion, only to have someone less qualified – but connected – get the opportunity; the number of times we tried to speak up but were spoken over…. And this happens to most under-represented people.  And when I have listened recently to my black friends and colleagues to the micro-aggressions that they have suffered, I am deeply saddened; I thought that I was an ally and that I understood, but I am learning that I did not understand well enough.  I am still learning, and I need to learn more.  The same is true for the LGBT community – I have been an outspoken ally for so many years, but there is so much more to do.  I feel a greater responsibility today than I ever have.   At the same time, we cannot ignore unconscious bias and the reality that women sometimes do not support women – I have experienced this myself. We can all do better.

CB: Going forward, how can we ensure change happens, both in the legal profession and more widely?

CH: The legal profession has always had an opportunity to lead, within organisations, within our communities, and in our local and central governments.  We have a powerful voice and an ability to advocate that gives us a social responsibility and a leadership capability that we can all be proud of. Because of our training and our connections, the legal community can – and I believe will – be a catalyst for continued advocacy in the equal rights movement.  I am also deeply optimistic with the current youth movement across the world – there is a greater demand for social justice and the legal community can serve this youth movement by being advocates to them as they lead us and show us what the expectations of this next generation will be for D&I.  

CB: Thank you Carolyn for your honesty and insightful answers.  It has been an absolute pleasure talking with you today.