At Siemens, Alan Cardenas Fosters Cultural Intelligence

Lead Counsel Alan Cardenas on how the evolution of technology affects law and what it means to appreciate everyone’s journey

Alan Cardenas believes that it’s a privilege to practice law in-house at this moment in history.

Alan Cardenas, Lead Counsel, Siemens, portrait
Alan Cardenas, Lead Counsel – Central Functions; Lead Lawyer – Global Business Services, Siemens
Photo: Picture People

“During our digital age, the world is welcoming the Fourth Industrial Revolution—it’s truly an extraordinary time.” The lead counsel at Siemens says that the rapid infusion of technological innovation, paired with Siemens’ evolution, creates a sense that the job of an in-house lawyer has never been more multifaceted. And he’s excited by it.

The escalation of technology, both as it applies to the industries which Siemens serves as well as its own inner workings, is, luckily, a component the company regularly anticipates. “We’re so technologically fluent and attuned to those types of issues that we’re having great success moving in that direction,” Cardenas explains. “The whole world is moving in that direction, but it’s already second nature to us.”

That evolution applies to the legal department, as well. “We’ve seen a substantial change in the legal industry, especially as it relates to the maturation of the in-house legal function,” Cardenas says. “In-house lawyers went from being administrators to risk managers to business partners to now business and legal innovators.”

“Cultural intelligence has become of such critical importance, especially in working and achieving success within a large global enterprise.”

The lead counsel believes a high-performing legal department should consider meeting all of those requirements as baselines from which to grow. “The benefit of working at a company like Siemens is that it’s so diversified and focused on ingenuity. We truly work at the front end of what is expected of a high-performer.”

Cardenas takes his role as business partner to heart. “The client and customer experience have always been a true focus for me,” he explains. “From my perspective, if you approach your relationships with a great sense of humility and empathy in trying to understand your counterpart’s wants, needs, and concerns—and can effectively communicate what you can deliver and provide—you’ll almost always have a positive relationship.”

The lead counsel has placed an exceptional amount of responsibility on himself the past few years in developing a wider understanding and appreciation of cultural intelligence. After speaking on the topic a handful of times to a variety of different audiences, Cardenas says his approach to the issue has evolved as he’s continued his own self-education. “Originally, I was approaching with a perspective of being a Latino working in corporate America,” Cardenas says. “But I’ve learned to think about cultural intelligence in a much broader context than racial or ethnic diversity.”

I’ve learned to think about cultural intelligence in a much broader context than racial or ethnic diversity.”

It’s motivated Cardenas to examine issues like the complexities of multigenerational workforces, gender identity, veterans entering the workforce, and the difficulties of single-parent households when considering the recruitment, retention, development, and advancement of employees. “This is a context that crosses a variety of different lines and borders,” he asserts. “Cultural intelligence has become of such critical importance, especially in working and achieving success within a large global enterprise.”

It’s apparent that continuous improvement and education is an issue Cardenas takes seriously, particularly as he examines the role of law in an evolving marketplace. “My goals are always to have a high level of positive attitude and aptitude. It’s so important to have that mental agility to be able to grow with the business and industry. It’s something I ask my team to focus on,” Cardenas says. “If you don’t approach your job with a healthy attitude, all of the changes that occur in your professional life will just frustrate and stress you out of existence.”

That mind-set is one reason Cardenas has had success—and it’s a mind-set adopted by the high performing company. “We may not make cool phones or consumer market gadgets, but I really do feel like we’re working to solve the world’s toughest problems,” Cardenas says. “I love that energy and it’s what keeps me motivated.”


A message from Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP

Patterson Belknap congratulates Alan Cardenas on this well-deserved recognition.  We value our partnership with Siemens, and admire the company’s commitment to innovation and to excellence in the legal profession.

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP is a New York City based law firm with more than 200 lawyers. For more information, please visit


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