LaTanya Langley has a full plate of responsibilities and a travel schedule that constantly keeps her on the move. As vice president and general counsel of Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific, her responsibilities span at least twenty time zones and more than 150 countries including Brazil, BIC’s second-largest market after the United States. A recent promotion has expanded her role even further to include global leadership as general counsel of BIC’s largest business unit—stationery—and anti-corruption group compliance officer.
On the surface, her titles entail overseeing and addressing BIC’s legal matters in international markets. But get to know Langley a little better, and you’ll find a woman passionate about helping BIC become ingrained in the communities of the emerging markets she serves.
“Going beyond my title, I see my role as helping to strengthen the BIC brand in these markets, which includes the corporation’s reputation for integrity, honesty, and fair dealing,” Langley explains. “My teams and I review sales and marketing plans, employee health and wellness programs, corporate affairs, product innovation, and technological advancement. Then, we provide feedback.”
Langley refers to this feedback as “creative problem-solving.” Her teams’ solutions must simultaneously enable BIC to enact forward-thinking goals within each emerging market while also helping the corporation with its commitment to manufacture, market, and sell its products in a compliant way.
Langley’s dedication to BIC’s growth transcends the corporation’s reputation as the go-to brand for disposable consumer products such as writing instruments, lighters, and razors. She is also actively involved and committed to BIC’s diversity and inclusion efforts in advancing the growth of the corporation. As the only woman on the executive leadership teams for most of her markets, Langley sees herself as an ambassador for both the countries she oversees as well as women in leadership.
“I have a unique opportunity to bring business-savvy women from all over the world on board. And I have BIC’s full support. It’s a joint priority to diversify our workplace and create a more inclusive environment.”
“It’s an honor to be on our team of leaders and just as important, this honor puts me at the forefront of change,” Langley says. “I have a opportunity to bring business-savvy women from all over the world on board. And I have BIC’s full support. It’s a joint priority to diversify our workplace and create a more inclusive environment.”
Langley has also spearheaded programs to protect and help develop employee relations. “I’m involved in a lot of compliance training and strategic work to help our stakeholders make the right decisions and act consistently with the company’s commitment to ethical dealing,” she says.
That entails continual reassessment to try to identify potential improvements and provide guidance on appropriate conduct. “We are providing education, training, guidance and assessing other mechanisms to discourage active and passive corruption,” Langley says. “We’re trying to proactively meet increased compliance expectations. It’s been one of my greatest challenges and also something I’m very proud of.”
Leading the Trend
For Langley and her teams, fusing legal mandates with visionary business insight takes creativity as well as a true passion for the task because there are inherently unique challenges to the developing markets she oversees. To work through these challenges—from economic recession to market corruption—Langley adopted an inspirational management style. “I believe that a creative lens must be applied to problem-solving, and I empower my people to think likewise. Every team is encouraged to stretch beyond where they think they can go.”
“Being creative means remaining proactive about meeting goals,” Langley says. “In a general counsel, companies want much more than just a lawyer. They want corporate leaders who will contribute business insights that can be legally supported.”
With the position of corporate legal counsel morphing into one of true corporate leadership, Langley has this advice for what a general counsel can expect: “You have to be comfortable with the unknown, strong in core competency, be a commercial strategic thinker, and you have to enjoy constantly learning and taking on challenges in new and sometimes unfamiliar areas.”
Health and Wellness:
A Remarkable Balancing Act
Having a leadership position for a multinational corporate company often means traveling during about 75 percent of your professional life.
As much as she loves travel, Langley says that maintaining a schedule like hers means having to be more strategic about staying healthy. “My professional lifestyle could easily take its toll on my physical, emotional, and mental health—if I let it,” she says. “Without all three layers in balance, I could never achieve the energy and stamina I need to lead.”
Langley decided to share her strategy for maintaining balance and launched a Body, Mind, and Wellness campaign for her international teams. As part of daylong meetings, Langley leads any given team outside the boardroom for exercise breaks, yoga classes, and quiet meditation.
Woven between strategic business issues, she introduces wellness discussions. “You can’t lead if you’re not balanced,” she says. “That applies to my teams and myself. Together, we’re committed to being corporate athletes.”