Top 15 General Counsels to Watch in 2021: SAIC’s Karen Turner McWilliams

Karen Turner McWilliams, SAIC

In addition to providing legal and compliance issues as SAIC pivoted to a remote work environment last year, Karen Turner McWilliams and her team established the company’s first charitable foundation and worked to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Turner McWilliams oversees SAIC’s corporate real estate, intellectual property, technology and corporate functions and human resources compliance.

Turner McWilliams is proud to have helped create the SAIC Foundation, a nonprofit that assists employees in need. Creating the foundation allowed SAIC to respond quickly to those experiencing hardships because of the pandemic, as well as be prepared for future disaster-related emergencies.

SAIC also made significant financial investments and took concrete actions to address critical issues involving diversity, equity and inclusion, Turner McWilliams said.

“I believe that we made great strides in 2020, but there is more work to be done,” she said. “I would be remiss if I did not mention McKinsey & Company’s Black Executive Leadership Program and my colleague Michael LaRouche, president of SAIC’s national security and space sector, who served as my advisers during this unprecedented time.”

Why Watch

In 2021, Turner McWilliams and her team are primarily focused on SAIC’s back-to-work strategy and understanding employee needs. They are looking at what the future of the company will be in terms of virtual work — how to modify its real estate footprint, for example.

Leases and contracts are also under Turner McWilliams’ purview, and her team is weighing whether it needs pandemic risk protection such as modified force majeure clauses to specifically include events such as pandemics and public health emergencies.

“We are taking a critical look at our lessons learned in 2020 and developing a plan to create efficiencies, and ensure that we retain our top talent through flexible work environments,” she said.

Read the rest of the “Top 15 General Counsels to Watch in 2021” list here.

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