Raymond Ferrell shares the three P’s that have led him to professional success and personal happiness
By Stephanie Harris
Raymond Ferrell has achieved success by being three simple things throughout his career: personal, passionate and proactive.
He followed his passion for the law early on, and every professional move he has made since graduating from Columbia Law School has been a proactive step toward his current role as Executive Vice President (VP), General Counsel (GC) and Corporate Secretary for Dex Media.
“You can’t always look at everything in absolutes,” Ferrell said. “You have to understand how a particular experience will strengthen you in the short term, medium term and long term.”
Driven By Passion
Ferrell began his legal career working for a private law firm in New York City, where he practiced corporate law and gained exposure in security transactions. Ferrell spent time with various law firms focusing on securities law, including an invaluable experience with a smaller firm in New Jersey, until he was exposed to technology law in the late-1990s. In this space, he began learning the principles of supporting technology transactions, such as intellectual property and digital issues related to the Internet.
With a focus on technology law, Ferrell specialized in drafting software license and website development agreements for firms, including several technological startup businesses. He was recruited to work for American Express, and made the move in-house to serve as the lawyer for the AMEX website and the companies in which they were investing.
Ferrell joined Dex Media in 2009 as VP and Associate GC for Commercial Operations, a role in which he was able to become involved in issues he had not touched on before, such as human resources and real estate.
“I felt this was going to prepare me for the opportunity to be a GC at some point,” Ferrell said. “I wasn’t sure if it would be here, but I wanted to give myself the opportunity to have the skill set, experience and scope necessary to support a GC role for a public company.”
Ferrell’s preparation paid off and he was able to fulfill his desire this past January, when he was named permanent GC for Dex Media.
A Proactive Partner
An effective GC supports a business not only by identifying potential issues, but also providing viable solutions.
“While it is important to drive transactions and issues to completion, a truly valued member of an executive team and organization not only identifies a problem, but they also show you a method to best resolve that problem,” Ferrell said.
He has learned one of the best ways to be an effective business partner is to be proactive and develop personal relationships early on.
“Whenever you have an opportunity to get to know somebody personally, you will find some kind of commonality,” Ferrell said. “It is important to develop those kinds of kinships with your business partners. It gives your relationship a good foundation.”
Once you have those relationships in place, Ferrell advises you to stay connected in a proactive way.
“Do not just be responsive to issues when they come up, but alert your partners to key concerns that may be business and/or legal related.”
It could even be a quick email about a new business or technology you run across, Ferrell noted. “It’s important to provide that sort of insight to your business partners before they have an issue,” he said. “This way, they will have the context to deal with an issue when it does come up.”
Passion Makes Perfect
Since the beginning of his career, Ferrell has strived to one day lead an organization’s legal function. In addition to accomplishing this goal, he has enjoyed his professional journey.
“It’s important to find the thing you like most—it makes work less work-like,” he said. “You get to do something you enjoy on a day-to-day basis as opposed to something that you have to do on a day-to-day basis.”
Ferrell encourages up-and-coming legal professionals to find an area of the law that sparks their interest and desire to learn more.
“You will enjoy the developments that are happening in that area of the law,” he said. “And if you can align your passion with a key marketplace issue, that can be an even greater thing for you.”
By following his passions, Ferrell has established a professional career in which he truly takes pleasure. And by being personal, he has established strong business relationships that have enabled him to be an effective business partner. This combination has proven to be a good recipe for a healthy work-life balance, too.
“It’s important to be genuine in your professional life,” he advised. “It will help you marry your personal life to professional life.”
When sharing your personality with coworkers, you will find commonalities, which, according to Ferrell, will ultimately give you leeway to achieve your passions outside of work.
“It is important to present a genuine you when you are dealing with folks in your professional setting,” he said. “It triggers the ability for you to have a better work-life balance.”
For Ferrell, his personal approach to business, as well as his proactive efforts, have enabled him to pursue his passions—in the workplace and beyond.
Stephanie Harris is a freelance writer based in Chicago, Illinois.
Raymond's Key Partners:K&L Gates (Global Legal Counsel) | Goodwin Procter (Corporate Governance matters)
Latest posts by Stephanie Harris (see all)
- How to Advance the IT Function While Simplifying it - October 5, 2015
- Driving Business Through Technology at a Global Level - August 18, 2015
- Why You Need to Walk in the Shoes of Your Frontline - June 11, 2015