Sandra Cohen returns to “The Future is Bright” podcast for part two of her interview with Chris and to tell the story of how she became an executive compensation attorney at Cohen & Buckmann pc. Her journey was a steady upward trajectory where her fierce sense of independence and ambition served her well at every step. A Midwestern girl, she moved to New York City right out of college, looking for a more cosmopolitan experience. Within five days, she secured a job in HR at Manufacturers Hanover thanks to an informational interview with a Washington University alumnae.

Much of her business still comes from relationships she formed years ago, and Sandra advises young lawyers on long-term business development, taking initiative to form groups, and establishing yourself early on as a thought leader. Those with more experience should individuate themselves so that they aren’t as reliant on their boss’s view of their work. She explains what her job is and is not, what she still loves about it years later, and the unique challenges of the position.

Recognizing that most executives in HR were lawyers, she enrolled in Yale law and upon graduating got a job with the Canadian branch of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt. Though she saw prime examples of female leaders at this firm who were able to admirably balance work and life, sometimes, Sandra confesses, it’s not balanced at all. As she tells her students at NYU, for the sake of both your personal and professional success, choose your spouse wisely.

In between family and work, it’s important to make time for fun. Hear Sandra discuss her hobbies– including a dedicated equestrian practice–and how she makes the best of New York’s incomparable nightlife.

Quotes “I’m still fascinated by the psychology of it, how groups work and how office politics work. And that still informs part of my job as an executive comp, attorney, helping organizations find what’s the right incentive for their company, and why are they pursuing the stock option plan, do they have the other pieces other than money also in place?” (7:31 | Sandra)

“Find something that interests you enough to write about and talk about, so that you have shown thought leadership, create your own blog, if your law firm doesn’t have one, it doesn’t matter. Write on LinkedIn, you don’t have to get published by a major publisher to show that you know what you’re talking about.” (22:11 | Sandra)

“It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.” (23:00 | Sandra)

“I think business development is really like watering a tree…And if you want to be sort of strategic and calculating about it, it’s like, okay, how do I get more people to have known me a long time.” (23:34 | Sandra)