Inclusion, diversity, and equity (IDE) have been a meaningful part of Cathi Hunt’s practice for years. The vice president and associate general counsel for global labor, employment, and litigation chaired the diversity committee for the Washington State chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and is now the state chapter’s president elect. She also was a fellow for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization focused on increasing diversity in the legal profession, and she led the Equal Opportunities Initiatives team at Starbucks, which focused on diversity and equity efforts across the workforce.
Hunt says mentoring those early in their careers is an ideal place to make an impact, particularly to give insight to a new narrative for what a legal career “should” look like.
“I think there’s a common mindset among many in law school that the brass ring is law firm partnership,” she explains. “Law firm partnership may be the most satisfying career for some, but what’s expected may not always match with your passion. If you are open to experiences and directions you hadn’t initially thought of, I think you may have a more fulfilling career.”
The message Hunt is working to impart to the next generation of lawyers is one she herself has lived. The lawyer’s experience has itself evolved widely, from the public defender’s office to a civil defense litigation firm to in-house counsel with a Fortune 250 energy company to a director role at Starbucks, and now a defining role on multiple fronts at Vontier, including being part of the company going public in late 2020 and leading integration efforts during the heart of a pandemic.
“I’ve had the opportunity to be part of some well-established companies, but this has been a chance to approach company needs from the opposite end of the spectrum,” Hunt explains. “It’s a chance to help shape a company from the onset with a business that has the ability to develop and grow in many directions.”
Vontier, a spinoff of Fortive Corporation, is a global industrial technology company focused on smart, sustainable solutions and composed of six operating companies operating in over 150 global locations. Vontier’s portfolio includes businesses centered on retail and commercial fueling, fleet management, telematics, vehicle diagnostics and maintenance, tool sales through a network of franchised mobile distributors, digital payments, and smart cities.
Building a new company from the strong roots of a parent company was a unique best-case scenario Hunt. She was eager to tackle the challenge when she received an offer to join the general counsel’s leadership team before the company went public, even when it meant accepting the role at the onset of the pandemic in February 2020. This timing, arguably the most challenging moment of modern history, would provide Hunt a chance to impact the organization almost immediately.
The lawyer was tapped with leadership of the global, cross-functional COVID-19 task force that would become responsible for all aspects of Vontier’s pandemic response across its diverse and global employee base.
“Leading the task force was an incredible opportunity to both understand the needs of our businesses and global teams and support continued operations during a public health emergency,” Hunt says. “The Vontier COVID-19 team has devoted great effort to create standardized work to assist all of our employees in their different environments, from those on manufacturing plant floors to those who travel in the field for service and sales work to our office employees. Our task force impact is something I’m very proud of.” Last year the team was recognized with the CEO’s first Mobilizing the Future Team Award for Excellence.
Hunt has also worked to establish Vontier as a premier employer in IDE efforts. She lauds President and CEO Mark Morelli for making both vocal and actionable commitments to IDE at Vontier, and Chief Legal and Administrative Officer Katie Rowen for her strong commitment to IDE.
“We’ve been focused on these priorities from day one, which says a lot,” Hunt explains. “We want our culture to reflect our values, and it’s been a very important part of helping people understand that this is who we are and how we work.”
Hunt says the ability to have this kind of impact on a new company is why she joined Vontier. She was able to act as a creator, influencer, and decision-maker from the start rather than trying to change the established course of the organization. As the future of the company continues to unfold, Hunt has a hand in shaping it.
At present, the word that most immediately comes to mind is “growing”: Vontier completed its first acquisition (of DRB Systems) at the end of 2021. The obvious challenge is continuing to build out culture while adding new faces, new expertise, and new businesses, but it’s a challenge Hunt says she’s excited about.
“This is part of what I mean about diversity of experience,” the lawyer says. “I haven’t had a lot of exposure in growing a new company, but that’s part of being adaptable, agile, and collaborative. I see this is a new opportunity for growth and development, and I hope it will make me a better practitioner and business partner in the long run.”
Hunt loves a challenge, both inside the office and out. She is a three-time marathon runner and mountain climber with dreams of reaching the summit of some of the world’s largest mountains. With her track record, there’s no doubt she’ll be seeing the top very soon.
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.:
“Cathi is a thought leader in the area of labor and employment law. She is respected by all members of the Bar for her intellect, common-sense insights and professionalism.”
–Chuck Baldwin, Shareholder