If there’s one constant in the law career of Ellie Sullivan, it’s her ability to adapt to whatever situation is at hand. Over the years, the senior counsel for Genesis Energy in Houston has amply demonstrated that she can meet any challenge.
Having started her career during the financial recession in 2008 and weathered the oil price collapse of 2014, Sullivan has learned to be nimble and to make strategic moves in her career. This agile, strategic approach has ensured she is well positioned for the next opportunity.
She has also kept an open mind when it comes to opportunities she’ll consider. Thanks to this openness to different experiences, she has found she enjoys a wide range of work. For instance, she’s taken on roles supporting businesses not only in different time zones but on different continents, in many cases without budgets to support substantial travel or use of outside counsel. Her past roles have taught her valuable lessons for her current position at Genesis, such as the importance of understanding the company’s culture, management’s objectives, and her client’s tolerance for risk.
Sullivan’s first job after law school as an associate at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, allowed her to work on complex international projects for the firm’s clients. She then did a stint at CRC-Evans Pipeline International, helping the company with corporate governance issues for its subsidiaries in more than forty different countries.
In 2011, she started with CGG as legal counsel. After one year, she was promoted to senior legal counsel. Sullivan says the experience was transformative for her, as she was a junior lawyer based in Texas but reported to the general counsel located in France.
“I was challenged to work independently but also to build relationships with my international colleagues,” she notes. “I pulled on my experience from living overseas and traveling a lot to build relationships with my colleagues and achieve progress and results for my clients.”
During her time with CGG, Sullivan had two children. While on maternity leave with her youngest, she recognized that CGG’s business was facing major challenges and started exploring new opportunities. That led her to Frank’s International, an oilfield services company specializing in tubular running services that operated in more than sixty countries around the world.
“The role at Frank’s gave me an opportunity to not only take on a bigger role but also to work at the headquarters of an American company operating internationally, as opposed to the satellite location of a French company that operated internationally,” she explains. “I spent three years at Frank’s as the senior counsel for the Western Hemisphere, working on numerous types of issues—litigation, commercial contracting, trade and compliance, corporate governance, etc.”
In January 2019, she left Frank’s for her current role. The position has afforded her the opportunity to exercise and expand her legal skills. This turn in the road, and the sheer breadth of new knowledge that comes with it, have motivated her as much as her experiences working with international jurisdictions.
Her duties include supporting Genesis Energy’s human resources department, information technology department, marine business unit, offshore pipeline business unit, and the expansion of the company’s soda ash mining facility in Wyoming. She also supports other corporate and strategic projects as needed.
“For me, every day can be different,” she says. “What I really like about this job is I can go from working on an HR project to participating in a commercial meeting at a drop of the hat. Working with so many different groups within the same company makes me knowledgeable about the company as a whole and, thus, closer to leadership and key decision-makers.
“Ultimately, I enjoy being a generalist. I’m challenged every day to give thoughtful and useful legal advice on a diverse range of topics,” she adds.
As a wife and mother of two, Sullivan says balancing the demands of her career with the demands of family is extremely important to her. She is deeply committed to her work, often working late, long after her children are asleep.
“I try to be very deliberate and efficient with my time,” Sullivan explains. “When I’m at work and they are at school or doing their activities, it’s important I am effective during those hours. When we convene at the end of the day, I try my best to focus on them.”
While Sullivan’s career has required her to be nimble and adaptive to change driven by economic headwinds, she has met that challenge with tenacity and perseverance. In doing so, she has developed a diverse playbook of legal skills, making her well positioned for whatever challenges she might face in the future.
“Ellie Sullivan is simply top-notch. She is an incredible asset to any team. Her vast experience raises her work to the next level. We love working with Ellie.”
–Todd Mensing, Partner