Desde la Perspectiva . . . Tanya Avila

How the general counsel of SecureNet learned to trust herself and take risks

The first time I walked into the office at GoDaddy, I remember the CEO asked for my opinion on something, and I didn’t really know what to say. It was shocking to me that somebody so important would care about my feedback. This was added to the fact that I had never worked in a professional environment before. I grew up on the poor side of Phoenix. My mom was a bookkeeper in a small manufacturing company, and my dad was absent. Most of the people I knew worked service jobs; I didn’t know anyone who went to work in a suit. The main challenge I faced at GoDaddy came from a lack of confidence.

Tanya Avila, general counsel at SecureNet
Tanya Avila, General Counsel, Secretary, and Head of Compliance, SecureNet

I had interned there while I was still in law school, and Christine Jones, general counsel at the company, hired me after I graduated. At GoDaddy, Christine challenged me every single day, helping me gain confidence in my ability to take on new tasks. Even if I wasn’t already an expert, I learned to adapt and teach myself to do what the company needed me to do, which is a requirement when working for start-ups and technology companies.

If I had a question on an assignment, she would turn it around and ask me, “What do you think?” or “Why do you think that?” It became an important lesson. It also provided me with some of my most enjoyable moments at work and the approach I take now at SecureNet. I go into professor mode in my own head to figure out the problem, and the voice in my head is always Christine Jones’s.

Working with her gave me the skill set to be able to walk in, quickly identify what needs to be done, and to evolve with the dynamic of the company. Now I’ve been working at SecureNet for nearly a year. I still reach out to Christine before I make major decisions regarding my career or my life in general. More than a mentor, she’s become family.

She also taught me that when you achieve something, you have the obligation to help your community advance as well. This is one of the reasons I created an advice blog. Through my blog I reflect on being an in-house attorney and provide pointers to other attorneys. To any lawyer who would like to move in-house or just make a statement in his/her career, I would say find an area that you enjoy, and then take some risks. So many of us are risk-averse, we are afraid to step out of that law firm role, and we miss opportunities. Every single job I’ve had, and every career-changing lesson I’ve learned was an effect of my taking a risk and going the nontraditional route.