The Editor is happy to honor Katherine (Kate) Adams, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Honeywell, who was selected as General Counsel of the Year for companies with revenues over $1 billion. She was recently accorded this honor at a ceremony held by NJBiz following a careful selection of her credentials from a large group of general counsel by a group of judges from law and business.
Kate Adams is senior vice president and general counsel of Honeywell. Honeywell is a Fortune 100 diversified technology and manufacturing leader, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes and industry; turbochargers; and performance materials. The company has 130,000 employees and is based in Morris Township, New Jersey.
Kate initially wanted to be a professor of English after studying Comparative Literature at Brown University, but she got a job right after college in the Bronx criminal court system working with repeat offenders. After being exposed to lawyers and working in the justice system, her interest in the intersection of law and society led her to law school, clerkships at the U.S Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the U.S. Department of Justice, and private practice before joining Honeywell in 2003.
Today, Kate is responsible for managing all of the company’s legal affairs, including Securities and Exchange Commission filings and disclosure, corporate governance, human resources and benefits, intellectual property rights, litigation, environmental compliance, and acquisitions and divestitures. In this role, Kate is also responsible for Honeywell’s Government Relations and Global Security organizations.
At Honeywell, Kate has resolved numerous complex litigation matters and brought rigor and focus to legal processes. She has instituted new controls to ensure outside legal providers offer preferential rate structures and preferred provider relationships. Litigation prevention measures championed by Kate have helped reduce the company’s new case filing rate.
Central to Honeywell’s ability to drive performance is that everyone works together with a common culture, vernacular and shared processes. Kate has developed comprehensive systems for integrating integrity, compliance and risk prevention into the company’s operating processes. Compliance and risk management are now accomplished through mature evolving processes and active participation across businesses, functions and regions. Her leadership has resulted in a culture of compliance where employees play an active role in supporting Honeywell’s commitment to integrity and compliance.
Under Kate’s leadership, Honeywell has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for four years by the Ethisphere Institute.
Overseeing global governmental relations, Kate is connecting Honeywell to governments worldwide, identifying business opportunities and new markets, and leveraging partnerships and trade associations. In 2012, her team helped Honeywell businesses secure billions of dollars in grants, incentives, contracts and sales support from governments around the world.
With responsibility for health, safety and the environment, one of Kate’s major achievements has been the work Honeywell does to make its businesses more environmentally friendly, safer, and more sustainable. Under her direction, at the end of 2011, the company met and exceeded its public greenhouse gas and energy efficiency objectives. Kate drives continuous improvements through annual goal setting. In 2013, the company will implement water conservation projects at sites that are experiencing “water stress.” Kate also is responsible for Honeywell’s safety record, which is in the top quartile for large companies, based on a weighted average for the sectors in which Honeywell operates.
Leading a cross-functional team, Kate has successfully reached agreements with federal and state regulators to resolve Honeywell’s environmental legacy matters in Central and Western New York; Hudson County, New Jersey; and Baltimore, Maryland, cleaning up and restoring the sites while managing the company’s liabilities and engaging in constructive partnerships with local communities.
As general counsel, Kate supports mergers and acquisitions; in 2012, five Honeywell acquisitions resulted in $1.35 billion of additional revenues. She also has overseen an increase in Honeywell patents from 30,788 in 2008 to 33,122 in 2012.
Kate is committed to driving diversity at Honeywell, understanding that an inclusive culture creates greater engagement and participation from employees. In 2011, she championed a data-driven action plan. Scorecards measuring the population of women globally and people of color in the United States are reviewed quarterly by the Chairman and CEO. With this greater visibility, the company is able to identify trends and develop meaningful plans to drive change. In coordination with the data-driven action plan, Kate leads the Honeywell’s Women Council that offers mentoring and company-wide diversity initiatives.
Kate is an active member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, a national organization that focuses on developing strategies to increase diversity in the legal profession.
She volunteers her time as a trustee of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, which “supports leadership, innovation, and collaboration for a better New Jersey.”
From 2005 through September 2008, Kate was vice president and general counsel for Performance Materials and Technologies, one of Honeywell's four strategic business groups. Prior to joining the Performance Materials and Technologies leadership team, she served as vice president and deputy general counsel – litigation for Honeywell.
Before joining Honeywell, Kate was a partner at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP in New York City. Prior to entering private practice, Kate was a law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Supreme Court of the United States, during the 1993 term and law clerk to then-Chief Judge Stephen Breyer, United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit from 1990 to 1991. From 1991 to 1993, she was a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, Appellate Section, Environment & Natural Resources Division. She was hired into the Department of Justice through the Attorney General’s Honors Program, a highly selective program for entry-level attorneys.
In 1990, Kate graduated with honors from the University of Chicago Law School and was a member of the Order of the Coif. She received a bachelors’ degree with honors, magna cum laude, from Brown University in 1986.
Throughout her career, Kate has held academic positions as adjunct assistant professor of law for the New York University Law School and adjunct assistant professor of environmental law for Columbia University Law School in New York City. Kate is an accomplished public speaker and author. For New York University School of Law, she wrote two Annual Surveys of American Law, one honoring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (1996) and another honoring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer (2008).
Kate lives with her husband and their two children in Kingston, New Jersey.
Published June 22, 2013.