Article originally published on washingtonexec.com
Noblis’ top legal, ethics and compliance officer Lauren McGinley has taken the helm of WashingtonExec’s General Counsel Council as the 2021 founding chair.
“I’m honored and excited to lead the council,” says McGinley, vice president, general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer for Noblis, a leading provider of science, technology and strategy services to the federal government. “It’s a great opportunity to collaborate on pressing topics with colleagues across the industry. And as the founding council, we have a lot of flexibility and creativity to chart the path and set a strong foundation for future committees.”
McGinley has already connected with council members, met new colleagues and surveyed members to confirm key topics the team wants to address as part of the council’s agenda.
“There are some common threads emerging from our discussions,” she says. “For example, everybody wants to address cybersecurity, and more specifically, compliance programs around Cybersecurity Maturation Model Certifications (CMMC).”
“Diversity is another priority topic for the group,” McGinley confirms. “We’re looking forward to combining a wide span of perspectives to collaborate and offer new ideas to address and help improve overall diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Diversity has always been top-of-mind for McGinley. Before becoming a lawyer, she was interested in learning about other cultures and understanding the interconnectivity of international economics and the world as a whole.
That’s why she pursued her undergraduate degree in international studies and economics from the University of South Carolina, before receiving her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.
“I actually wanted to be in the foreign service,” McGinley says. “But my career moved in another direction.”
She held onto her interests and shifted her education to law, focusing on mergers and acquisitions. McGinley intended to join a law firm with an international practice so she could lead cross-border deals.
“I think deal work is really exciting,” McGinley says. “It often centers around cutting-edge technology. I graduated with the first tech boom, so it was fun to be on the front edge of the innovation curve while simultaneously supporting international deals.”
She started her career working for several national and international private practice, corporate law firms for eight years before transitioning to Airbus Group North America’s (formerly EADS North America) in-house legal team in 2008. As a Franco-German aerospace and defense contractor, Airbus Group North America provided McGinley with opportunities to travel to Europe frequently.
This opportunity fed McGinley’s passion for diversity and expanded her interest in deal work.
“I developed a keen interest in seeing business deals follow-through and watching them enable a strategy — while also being part of that overall strategy,” McGinley says. “Having that team mentality and being part of a business that’s growing, solving complex problems and pushing the boundaries of innovation, it’s an exciting place to be.”
McGinley served as associate general counsel for Airbus’ U.S. operations. She was responsible for all U.S. M&A activity, in addition to managing legal issues related to employment and employee benefits, real estate and government and commercial contracting.
In 2012, she joined Noblis as deputy general counsel and deputy compliance officer, managing and overseeing the ethics and compliance programs, including conducting training and investigations.
In her current position, McGinley is responsible for all legal and ethics matters and has corporate secretary duties. This includes corporate governance, corporate transactions, tax compliance, intellectual property, litigation management, employment issues and real estate.
Her dual role as chief ethics and compliance officer has been particularly rewarding and satisfying.
“Noblis has an incredible compliance program, such that we’ve been recognized as one of the world’s most ethical companies for 10 years in a row by Ethisphere,” McGinley says. “And I firmly believe there is a strong correlation between being an ethical company and a successful company — especially in the hyperregulated government contracting industry. We support critical national missions and are held to the highest standards for good reasons.”
And because of the heavily regulated nature of government contracting, there are several topic areas McGinley hopes to discuss with the council — starting with cybersecurity and CMMC.
“There are regulations and changes coming,” she says, “and everybody is talking about it.”
Another pressing topic is supply chain security, especially in the wake of the SolarWinds breach and during the continual ban on Chinese-made telecom equipment.
McGinley also hopes to facilitate corporate-level discussions that affect companies regardless of industry, such as environmental, social and corporate governance and corporate social responsibility.
“What does it mean in our industry to be environmentally sustainable, and are we doing what’s right with climate change initiatives?” McGinley asks.
In terms of social governance, she’s referring to encouraging, supporting and sustaining diversity efforts within GovCon.
And an undeniably of-the-moment topic to discuss will be the return to the workplace during COVID-19 — what that will look like and how the industry may evolve to better support more remote work. This situation also raises a slew of security and cultural challenges in protecting data on home networks and keeping remote workforces engaged virtually.
“We’re planning a dynamic agenda — and also look forward to stretching ourselves as leaders to continuously add value to our organizations and be stronger strategic partners to our respective leadership teams and boards.” McGinley says.
But most importantly, she wants the council to be a place where members can share best practices and collaborate on emerging issues. Her goal is for the council to be a “sounding board for colleagues — built on trust — where all members are comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas and experiences.”
McGinley plans to share her experiences and perspectives, too, having worked in private practice, in-house and also internationally.
“My career experience has really given me a learning mindset and understanding that we can learn from lots of different people,” she says. “That includes cultural norms, ethics, laws and regulations derived from various customs, cultures and industries.”
And ultimately, McGinley wants to help grow members’ networks and relationships with their industry peers so GovCons can work together to improve the industry and the critical work we do for the nation.
“I’m really excited about the council and humbled to lead such a highly talented group of people,” she says. “I know that, together, we’ll establish a dynamic agenda and be a flexible, collaborative team that welcomes the opportunity to address key existing and emerging topics to help improve our industry overall.”