Adrienne Logan, General Counsel for Vans, a VF Company, joins CCBJ to share her experiences working for the global apparel company, as well as her views on setting your career off on the right foot.
What led you to join Vans?
I've always loved working for companies with product that I'm excited about. If you look at my history, I've worked for Godiva, Kenneth Cole, and Avon. I like brands that are recognizable, and Vans is iconic on a global scale with deep roots in Southern California, which is where I live now. So that was a big driver.
Now that I’m part of the organization, I can also say the culture at Vans is really amazing. It's inclusive and it’s always pushing the boundaries. That's the context in which our tagline "Off The Wall"—a phrase coined by skateboarders while skating empty pools —was conceived. The message behind it is synonymous with Vans’ mission to empower everyone to be their authentic self through creative exploration. So, I would say that while I had respect for Vans before joining, now that I'm part of the team, I really love the company.
Please tell us about your leadership style and who or what has influenced it?
My leadership style is a mix of supportiveness and accountability. Vans is a fast-paced, demanding environment, and the ethos of the company requires self-starters. If you are on my team and not fulfilling commitments, that’s something we will address fairly quickly. In general, I like to give my team a lot of space and autonomy to get their work done because I think that's where the innovation and creativity come in. I'm open to the possibility that I may not see things exactly as somebody else does, and that's okay. There are many different ways to get to certain solutions, especially in the law, so I'm very supportive of differing points of view.
What qualities do you look for when you're hiring new people for your team?
As I mentioned, Vans is a fast-paced, demanding environment, and has the ethos of a company that requires self-starters. Because of that, I have fairly high standards, and look for someone who has had a track record of success but also aligns with what I'm looking for and what’s best for the brand. At its core, Vans was built around Van Doren Spirit, derived from founder Paul Van Doren’s underdog mentality, grassroots approach and tenacity. This sentiment remains a guiding force at the company. To that end, during the interview process, I’m looking for candidates who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done. So, in terms of personality, I’d say I’m looking for a combination of confidence and humility. And of course, the threshold question is: Does their work experience include the skills we need.
How would you describe the culture of your organization?
I would say Vans is one of the best company cultures I've worked in. There’s a relentless focus on the consumer, and an ongoing respect for the varied work styles, culture and needs of employees. There’s also a very strong focus on financial performance and a clear vision for the future. Vans is one of the biggest brands within our parent company – VF Corp.’s portfolio, so we're very clear about what our role is within the broader organization and what is expected of us. So what I see in terms of both employees and leadership is a really positive mix of accountability and having an environment that is going to make employees productive and keep them satisfied with their jobs. Listening to employees and proactively asking for their feedback, insights, and opinions is an important part of this process.
What is the greatest or most high-impact career advice you've received?
I think it’s “perception is reality.” Even if the feedback you receive does not align with your view and you ultimately decide not to incorporate it, you have to respect the fact that someone else’s perception is their reality. So if someone is repeatedly giving you feedback that you don’t agree with, you have an obligation to figure out what's contributing to that perception, and to address it because it could affect your ability to rise in the organization or be selected for special projects. I think it's very important to listen to all feedback that you receive; to deepen your understanding of that feedback by asking questions; and to keep in mind that even feedback you don't agree with is part of how your corporate story is being written, so you have to manage to that as much as to those things that ring more true to you.
What changes would you like to see within the legal profession?
I'd like to see a reevaluation of the billing process as it relates to external counsel, as well as the manner in which we have outside counsel pitch us their business. I would welcome innovation especially because businesses— particularly in the retail area— are changing and undergoing significant re-assessment in this post-pandemic world.
Most retail companies are re-evaluating where their key revenue is coming from, reviewing how they speak directly to the consumer, and reimagining how they remain relevant. All of these challenges are yielding innovative solutions. From my perspective, there is a space for our law firms to get more in line with the innovativeness that's taking place within our business organization.
Additionally, I would like to see if there's a different way that law firms can make themselves available to us. Lawyers often ask us to lunch or invite us to attend an event. And while that’s a nicety that enables us to expand our network for potential future partnerships, for me, the most critical component is if the firm is providing great legal work, and can be responsive to our needs. I’m interested in how we can restructure the process to be more inclusive of firms in different regions and of lawyers outside of who we normally do business with. I just think there's a lot of room for innovation, and I would love to see it.
Published July 19, 2023.