With more than twenty years of experience leading large teams of lawyers, Mike Kolloway understands that to get the job done right, everyone needs to be on the same page. He firmly believes you’re only as effective as the team you build.
“You need talent and dedication from your team,” he shares. “I try to make sure leaders on my team get credit and have visibility with the board, and that I show appreciation for their hard work and contributions to Parsons.”
Kolloway currently serves as the chief legal officer for Parsons Corporation, a $4 billion global technology firm in the defense, intelligence, and critical infrastructure markets. Before joining Parsons, he spent fifteen years as assistant general counsel for operations and risk management with AECOM Technology Corporation and, prior to that, another fifteen years in private practice in Chicago at the law firm of Rock, Fusco, and Garvey.
He notes both job changes came at pivotal points in his career, and although he wasn’t looking for a new job at either stage, opportunities presented themselves and he made the decision to accept greater challenges and responsibilities.
“Parsons was in the midst of ‘Project Forward,’ the first step in transforming our business to become a leading disruptive technology provider for global defense, intelligence, and critical infrastructure markets,” Kolloway recalls. “I was very much intrigued about the work in cyber and missile defense, and the strategy for transforming and extending our business.”
Today, he oversees all the legal operations for the company, which includes securities and regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, contractual work for both of Parsons’ business segments (federal solutions and critical infrastructure), employment issues, and dispute resolution and litigation.
“I have an excellent team that combines several great lawyers Parsons already had when I joined the company and several new lawyers that I have hired,” Kolloway says, noting that his direct reports include eight attorneys and contract managers.
Kolloway quotes former President Ronald Reagan: “There’s no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” He strives to inspire all members of the legal team to feel they are part of the greater whole.
“I focus on having the best lawyers on the legal team, not only in terms of their legal acumen but in terms of their commitment to being part of a team, their commitment to our core values, and their ability to manage fairly and effectively,” the CLO says. “We now have a team of lawyers who are dedicated, very skilled, and also enjoy working with each other.”
The work Kolloway has done is celebrated by his colleagues. “Mike is equally adept in managing litigation and corporate matters, as he drives strategy and demonstrates high acumen and practicality in his leadership,” attest Mike Rizzo and Kevin Slattum, partners at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
Since coming to Parsons, Kolloway has built a first-class legal team and achieved some major milestones. He’s helped Parsons with its initial public offering in 2019 and with the acquisition of three companies over the past two years.
“I’m very proud of the fact that in a short period of time, we have achieved some amazing things at Parsons,” he says. “I’ve been fortunate that at each stage of my career, I have had mentors who have taken an interest in my career and have been pivotal to the success that I have achieved.”
“You need talent and dedication from your team. I try to make sure leaders on my team get credit and have visibility with the board, and that I show appreciation for their hard work and contributions to Parsons.”
He draws upon advice he received as a young attorney: “If you make sure you pay attention to the details, the big picture will fall into place.” And he’s lived by that philosophy in how he approaches his job.“Don’t overwhelm yourself, and know when to delegate responsibility to others. A great many issues come across my desk every day. I need to prioritize responsibilities that I will handle myself and feel comfortable with delegating certain matters to attorneys with the right level of expertise. Organization, flexibility, and agility are keys to success,” he advises.
Growing up in Illinois, Kolloway and his family traveled to Springfield regularly to visit notable Lincoln sites, such as the former president’s home, law office, and old state capitol. These experiences inspired the impressive career that followed.
“At a young age, I read a lot about Lincoln’s life and knew early on what I wanted to do. I planned my education through high school and college with the understanding that I was going to study law,” he recounts.
Parsons Corporation has been included on Ethisphere Magazine’s list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for eleven consecutive years. This recognition is very important to Kolloway as well as Parsons’s leadership team and employees.
“We develop an annual ethics and compliance plan that we present to our audit committee and the board of directors. This determines what aspects of our compliance program will receive a specific focus during each year,” Kolloway explains. “We focus on training—both web based and live—about issues of importance to our company. We strive to deliver messages in a personal way so that employees can understand how violations of our policies can lead to very serious repercussions to the company and the individual.”
Inclusion and diversity are also of major importance to Parsons, and the company focuses strongly on ensuring all employees feel included. “We want our employees to see it’s not just something we say, but something we actually do in the way we act and perform as a company on a daily basis,” Kolloway affirms.
Looking ahead, Parsons will continue transforming its business with more of a focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things (IoT), and cloud reporting. Kolloway foresees more of a focus on intellectual property protection.
“Our legal department is evolving as our business evolves, and we need to stay on top of issues that are important to Parsons to provide cutting-edge legal advice,” he says.