Women Worth Watching 2015

Katherine Y.K. Cheung

This Marriott VP & Senior Council is a Powerful Advocate for Company and Causes


web Marriott_CheungAn inspirational leader, an excellent lawyer, and a skilled communicator, Katherine Cheung serves as vice president and senior counsel in the Employment Law group at Marriott International, Inc.

Prior to joining the Marriott law department five years ago, Kathy was with the law firm of Norris, Tysse, Lampley & Lakis in Washington, DC, which is the primary firm for the Equal Employment Advisory Council, an employer membership group designed to keep employers abreast of cases, laws, and regulations in the employment arena. She also served as vice president of employment law at U.S. Foodservice for five years.

Earlier in her career, Kathy worked at both the US Department of Commerce and Hogan & Hartson, and clerked for Judge Hargrove on the US District Court for the District of Maryland.

“Being a woman in my profession has been both challenging and rewarding,” said Kathy. “It is exciting to see more women in leadership opportunities in different legal jobs, but there is still more that can be done.”

“Your reputation precedes you. Make sure that it is stellar.”

Kathy has the rare diplomatic ability to obtain consensus without alienating anyone, which inspires others to do and be better. Her legal expertise and superb listening skills enable her to be a powerful advocate for her company, and her commitment to diversity inspires her peers and the larger legal community. She is always willing to speak on important topics, champion causes, and provide valuable input as needed.

Kathy is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College.

Education: AB, Harvard College; JD, Harvard Law School

My First Job: Law Clerk to the Honorable John R. Hargrove, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

What I’m Reading: “The New Yorker” magazine

The most important quality a woman leader should have is…

…not to be afraid to make a decision. Girls often are taught to listen and consider others’ opinions. We need to make sure we teach girls to make decisions, too.

The career advice I’d give my former self…

…is to have confidence in my knowledge and abilities, and seek out new opportunities.

Words I live by:

Your reputation precedes you. Make sure that it is stellar.

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

…seek out mentors in different fields. We can learn a lot from others, even if their career paths do not resemble our own.

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

…block out time on my calendar to focus without getting interrupted by e-mails and calls.

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

…to take a chance on a new job. When I was considering my first in-house counsel job at a company that was going through major organizational changes, I was nervous about leaving the structure of a traditional law firm. I decided to take the leap and have never looked back.

Being a woman in my profession has been…

…both challenging and rewarding. It is exciting to see more women in leadership opportunities in different legal jobs, but there is still more that can be done.

I’ve learned that failure is…

…only as significant as I let it be. I look at it as an opportunity to learn what can be done differently.

I maintain a healthy personal life by…

…making sure that I spend time with family and friends. Spending time with family and friends helps me remember what’s really important in life.

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

…I realized that I enjoy helping people avoid problems, rather than litigating disputes that have already occurred.