Michael Williams

Senior Advisor

Michael has served for more than 25 years in chief legal officer, corporate secretary, and outside counsel leadership roles, advising Fortune 500 CEOs, senior executives, and boards of directors on strategic corporate growth and restructuring in the United States and abroad. With substantial experience leading mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, strategic partnerships, securities and investor matters, and respected for his longstanding executive leadership across multiple corporate functions, Michael has a strong business orientation and strategic focus.

Most recently the Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer & Secretary of Staples, Inc., he led all legal, compliance, and secretarial functions while the Massachusetts-based company was the largest office product company in the world with customers in 25 countries and was taken private. Michael directed 65 in-house legal staff in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, and South America, with seven direct reports including compliance and regulatory VPs, and legal country and regional leaders. Additionally, he managed cybersecurity incident response, and trade strategy teams.

Before his tenure at Staples, Inc., Michael served as Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary at Sony Electronics, Inc., responsible for all legal functions for the multibillion-dollar electronics company in the U.S., Central America, and South America. By creating winning legal and commercial strategies, he improved financial performance, compliance, and risk mitigation. He was recognized globally within Sony for creating a “Center of Excellence” for global brand marketing, lowering costs, and implementing software efficiencies. He received operating awards for reducing external legal costs by 20%, reducing internal operational spend by 9%, and increasing efficiencies by deploying new information systems and technologies.

Prior to serving in-house, he was a partner at the law firms of Heller Ehrman LLP and Andrews & Kurth LLP.

The recipient of numerous national industry awards, Michael and his legal team at Staples received the 2016 NYSE Governance, Risk & Compliance Leadership Award – Best In-house Legal Team for Corporate Governance at a Large Cap Company. This award was earned by having provided strategic and legal oversight for global transactions and instituting a series of best practices for corporate governance, new director onboarding, activist shareholder campaign management, cybersecurity breaches, and FCPA investigations.

Williams graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law, cum laude, and served as Managing and Research Editor of the San Diego Law Review. He was the recipient of the 2010 University of San Diego School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, magna cum laude, from Ithaca College. Michael served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps before attending law school.

Expertise

Strategic Structure & Development

Building High Performance Teams

Establishing Performance & Reporting Metrics

Succession Planning & Development

Talent Retention & Development

Effective Reporting to CEO & Board

Implementing a Strong Culture of Compliance

Managing a Global Compliance Program

Legal & Compliance Function Assessment

Digitization Initiatives

Managing Outside Counsel & Third-Parties

Change Management

Managing Through Mergers & Layoffs

Crisis Management

Crisis Pre-Planning

Process & Communication

Governance & Corporate Secretary

Corporate Secretary Function

Developing the Secretary & Board Relationship

Mentoring

Executive Coaching

Succession Planning & Development