Dara M. Kendall
Vice President & Associate General Counsel, Global Innovation and Brand, Fabric and Home Care
Education: JD, North Carolina Central University School of Law; MS, engineering (ChE) and BS, chemical engineering, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Company Name: The Procter & Gamble Company
Industry: Consumer Goods
Company CEO: David S. Taylor
Company Headquarters Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Number of Employees: 97,000
Words you live by: You will never regret doing the things you fear. Victory always rests on the other side.
Who is your personal hero? Dr. Karen D. King was my best friend; she accomplished so much in such a short life.
What book are you reading? The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
What was your first job? Working as an OIC intern at the University of the DC Library
Favorite charity: Delta Research and Educational Foundation
Interests: International travel, collecting black art and stamps, and shopping
Family: I am swinkin’ (Single with no kids) and am the eldest of 3 children.
We Are All People First
When I look back on my career, one of the most essential traits contributing to my success at P&G as a legal leader has been having a high emotional quotient (EQ), which I let guide me daily. My faith teaches me to be a servant leader, and this belief drives my understanding of what I can do to help those around me, particularly in the case of collaborating or coaching in the legal context. Caring about people first and the job to be done second buys credibility with my team in such a way that people do their best because they know their interests are viewed as a major priority, on par with those of the businesses we serve. Putting people first allows employees to learn, grow, and ultimately, to shine. When they shine, our jobs get done and the needs of the business are not just met but exceeded.
As a leader, particularly as a black female leader, I think it is important for my team to see that I care for them, their well-being, and their growth as attorneys. I recognize that I may be the only black leader they encounter in their careers, and I must make that impactful for them. It is my intention to build relationships while serving in the trenches with my team, such that they feel supported, understood, stretched, and enlightened. The enlightenment relates not only to the legal work, but also to why diversity matters in the legal field and in their own lives.
This intentional work style was a natural fit when I took an assignment in China where “guanxi” (or the relationship) is highly valued; little did I know that my modus operandi was well placed there. Taking time to understand my team members as individuals—their respective needs and desires, and what opportunities for improvement they observed in the work to be done—helped us step up our level of support to the business. Having a high EQ allowed me to humbly recognize my team’s expertise in China operations and legal principles, and defer to them in most instances and add value where I could.
This same scenario has played out in each of my assignments in one way or another. Even in my current role, I am learning new areas of law and constantly calling on my team for input and advice. Operating with a good EQ allows a leader to establish connections which propel the entire team to a higher level of performance. In the end, we’re all people first and employees second and we cannot forget that.