Alumni Interrogatory: Divya Mehta ’05
Divya Mehta ’05 was recently promoted to senior vice president and general counsel of KONE Americas.
Divya Mehta ’05 was recently promoted to senior vice president and general counsel of KONE Americas. With $9 billion in annual revenue, KONE is a global leader in the elevator and escalator industry. Prior to joining KONE in 2013, Mehta worked in private practice in Chicago and for the office of the Illinois attorney general.
You started out as an assistant attorney general for the state of Illinois. Could you discuss a little bit about your work there?
I worked in the General Law Bureau, which meant that while I primarily did labor and employment work, and torts, I would also handle other matters, such as guardianships and election monitoring. Because of the case load and variety of matters, this is where I really learned how to work up and litigate cases.
After your time in the AG’s office, you spent about five-and-a-half years in the private practice of law. What types of cases did you handle?
I focused on insurance defense work, including medical malpractice and toxic tort. During this time, I learned the ins and outs of law firm practice. Substantively, I improved my deposition and trial skills. Specifically, with medical malpractice, I worked on more complex cases, so I learned a lot about the areas of medicine I was defending.
Could you discuss your decision to move in-house and the type of work you have done during your time at KONE, most recently as deputy general counsel?
I wanted to move in-house because I had worked for General Electric right out of college and missed the business environment. The role particularly appealed to me because it was new, so while there was a framework, I got to shape it into what I wanted. It also seemed like a good fit with my engineering background. Over the course of the last six years, I have worked on a wide variety of issues, including regulatory, compliance, product, technology, commercial, and operations, all of which have given me a good understanding of our business.
What interests or excites you most about the work you do and the industry you are in?
The most exciting part of the industry is the new technology in our products. KONE’s goal is to provide excellent services and innovative products to improve the flow of urban life. These products help gain efficiencies, whether for the riding public, building owners, or our technicians. For example, our KONE 24/7 Connected Services proactively monitors your elevator so that we can better predict issues and take action before it shuts down.
Can you share your thoughts on the importance of diverse perspectives in the corporate legal environment, particularly among the ranks of general counsel?
Diverse perspectives are important everywhere, not just in a corporate legal environment, and diversity overall is critical, not just gender diversity. Several years ago, I participated in an exercise at a leadership training that left a lasting impact on me. It proved that diverse perspectives lead to better results because thoughts are challenged and there is more discussion and debate. It is great to see more women attorneys becoming partners or general counsel, but we need to do better.
How do you spend your free time?
I love running and yoga. Last year I ran the Chicago Marathon. Also, a few years ago, I started taking piano lessons so I could play piano with my kids. Most of all, though, I love spending time with my family, including my nieces and nephews, who mostly live in the Chicago area.
Being a corporate counsel entails working in a fast-paced, busy environment. What do you do to de-stress and maintain wellness?
I try to do something physical every day (running, circuit training, spinning, yoga, basketball), but it is challenging. However, there is a gym in the building and KONE has a culture of wellness, both of which make it much easier to be active.
What programs or experiences did you find particularly impactful during your time at Minnesota Law?
There were two—Intellectual Property Moot Court and Trial Advocacy. The skills I learned in these programs were invaluable and practical, especially since I started out as a litigator.
What are a few interesting items one might see on display on your desk or in your office?
I have pictures of my family and some drawings and artwork from my kids. I also have some motivational Post-its. One says, “Be kind and kindness finds you back.” One of my favorites, which my younger daughter gave me before the marathon, says, “Womin rool!” and has a Spider-Man sticker on it. It took me a few minutes to figure out what she had written, but now it motivates me and makes me smile at the same time.