Women Worth Watching 2015

Meredith McKenzie

Juniper Networks VP Found Success at the Intersection of Engineering and Law


web Juniper_McKenzieMeredith McKenzie joined Juniper Networks in 2012 as vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and operations. She manages all aspects of intellectual property, including litigation, in-bound licensing and product support, patents, open source, trademarks, copyright, trade secret, standards, and privacy. She currently manages a team of twelve and a multimillion dollar budget.

Before she decided to become a lawyer, Meredith worked at Intel Corporation as an embedded microprocessor design engineer. Her engineering background, combined with her law degree prepared her to successfully litigate patents in the U.S. and internationally.

Prior to joining Juniper, Meredith spent five years at Symantec Corporation as senior director of IP and another five years at Cypress Semiconductor as director of litigation, licensing and IP. Her career path speaks volumes about her ability to take on increased responsibilities at each stage of her career, while remaining connected and committed to technology.

“Do not take it personally. Do not give up.”

“I think one of the most important qualities a leader should have is perseverance,” said Meridith. “There are always stumbling blocks along the way. Do not take it personally. Do not give up. Keep at it. If you believe in yourself and know your own capabilities, you will be able to better weather the bumps along the road.”

At Juniper, Meredith has established a track record of improving the quality of patent filings, while controlling costs, ensuring adequate protection of corporate intellectual property, and managing high-profile, complex litigation cases. She set a goal to better understand and manage open source. Working cross-functionally, and leveraging the resources of her own team, she successfully implemented an open-source policy and established an operational online tool for reviewing open source inbound and outbound requests by those on the business and legal side.

Meredith holds two US patents—for an automatic external clock detect and source select circuit and for a method for controlling clocking frequency in an integrated circuit, which she invented while working as an embedded microprocessor design engineer at Intel.

Education: JD, Santa Clara University School of Law; BSEE, MIT

First Job: Babysitting (a lot), but my first job with an official paycheck was as secretary/receptionist.

What I’m Reading: Many simultaneously, including a book on SEC Regulations, “The Slow Farm” by Tarn Wilson and “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey.

Words I live by: Balance

The most important quality a woman leader should have is…

…perseverance. There are always stumbling blocks along the way. Do not take it personally. Do not give up. Keep at it. If you believe in yourself and know your own capabilities, you will be able to better weather the bumps along the road.

The career advice I’d give my former self:

 Take some time (any time, in fact) to think about different options you may have, and talk to people in the different career options you are considering to better understand what the roles really involve, rather than making assumptions about what you think the role is.

The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…

…reach out for advice earlier. Other people are a great resource in so many ways and asking for their advice and opinions is not a sign of weakness nor is it a sign that you are not capable.

When I really need to focus on a project, I… 

…put on my headphones and hide at a coffee shop.

My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…

… probably when I left the law firm and went to a start-up company as the only attorney. I had been out of law school for less than 3 years, and even though the job was focused on intellectual property, since I was the only attorney, I got involved in many different legal areas. It was certainly a trial by fire that was exciting and frightening at the same time. I learned that I could tackle difficult (and sometimes seemingly impossible) challenges, and not only succeed at it, but get energized by it.

Being a woman in my profession has been…

 … This is difficult to respond to. As an electrical engineering student, only 10% of my class was women. When I went into IP law, now there were even fewer women. However, it was what I was used to, so I honestly didn’t notice until others pointed it out that I was one of the few women in the room.

I’ve learned that failure is…

…not the end of the world. In fact, it is often just what you need to achieve even more.

I maintain a healthy personal life by…

 …reminding myself that extremes are often a problem. Balance is a key philosophy that I live by.

I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…

…I had been doing it for a few years, and realized it was such a good fit for my personality and interests. I wish I could say that I had followed a master plan and that is how I arrived at my present career, but I can’t say that. Instead, I stumbled into career that is a great fit for me.