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Image of Val Gross featured as a woman of NM

April 19, 2022

Introducing Women of NM: Technology

Featuring Val Gross

New York partner Val Gross focuses her practice on end user technology as a conduit for business change, including global digital transformation, managed services, outsourcing, ERP, and other innovation-driven corporate programs. She engages as a transformation enabler and creative contract architect to guide her clients and their vendor partners through complex deal attributes, such as correlative value creation and organizational change management (OCM). She advises global and national clients across industries such as consumer packaged goods (CPG), financial services, automotive, healthcare, entertainment, and agricultural.

Why transformation enablement and innovative sourcing (and what exactly does that mean)?

In a nutshell, our transformation enablement & innovative sourcing practice is more about the “how” and “why” of partnership building, rather than just the “who”, “what”, “when,” and “where” of doing transactional deals.

Our clients seek our guidance in establishing programs that use technology as a conduit for business change – including global digital transformation, managed services, outsourcing, ERP, and other innovation-driven corporate programs. We help these clients and their potential partners navigate through much of the difficulty and complexity of these programs by serving as transformation enablers, working with them to problem solve throughout the entirety of the deal process from pre-RF(X) through down-selection, negotiation, and post-signing into execution.

Being a transformation enabler requires not only a great deal of creativity and problem-solving skills, but also the ability to truly collaborate and help our clients and their partners engage and communicate with one another on a whole new level. A key element for success is the parties’ ability to form a strong, mutually beneficial relationship as early in the process as possible and we work to model those behaviors that can making attaining this goal more likely.

I am fortunate to work closely with our clients and their partner teams to think outside the box and advance these innovative and transformational programs. My creative contracting, solutioning, and advocacy skills are put to the test almost daily. This is what makes what we do so exciting and why I deeply enjoy this practice.

At this point in your career, what would you say has been your biggest accomplishment?

Staying true to myself! There was a point, early in my career, that I was afraid that becoming a successful attorney would mean that I would have to tone down my unconventional presence and ways of working and embrace a much more adversarial approach. Though it took some time to work through it, I eventually realized that being a creative, collaborative problem solver would take my practice to the next level. I believe it truly has, and, best of all, it brings a great deal of joy to my life and career.

What’s one piece of advice that greatly impacted you and your career trajectory?

“Try stepping outside of your comfort zone a bit. Otherwise, your talents may go to waste and you might miss out on the good stuff!” This was the gist of a conversation with my high school art teacher, Mr. DeIeso. I was always hesitant to show my work — afraid of what people might think and generally hesitant to be in any kind of spotlight.

As a socially awkward introvert, speaking up, raising my hand, or promoting myself was never easy. But it wasn’t until I started practicing on my own that my life really started to change. It started small displaying my photography and artwork… having a short conversation with a waiter or cashier… and it grew from there. Though there are many famous quotes that capture this advice (my favorite from the late, great David Bowie), this is something that has stuck with me consistently over the years, and it’s still something I practice today.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

Oddly enough, when I was younger and folks would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, my answer was usually, “I’m not sure, but I don’t want to be a lawyer.” Late in my undergrad sophomore year, I was taking Dr. Donna Perry’s Women in Literature course, which had a heavy creative writing component. We often spent time talking outside of class, and I expressed to her that I had just chosen Business Administration/Finance as my major, but I still had no idea what direction to take with my future career. She noted my creative writing skills and asked if I had considered law. Though I hesitated momentarily, I tried to keep an open mind and took her advice and made an appointment to meet with the then Pre-Law Advisor, Dr. Michael Principe (“Doc,” as his students endearingly call him).

To say that Doc changed my mind is an understatement – he changed my life and continues to inspire me to this day. Doc’s passion for the law, legal studies, and thinking outside the box is incredible and quite contagious. After that first meeting, I had a whole new perspective on what a JD could turn into. But most powerful was his love for teaching and supporting the students at William Paterson. Doc could have taught in a more prestigious university or law school, but chose to stay at WP to help students who needed him the most. And I have taken his example quite seriously, which leads me to the next question…

How do you use your experience to give back in the community?

In the many years since graduating from law school, I have frequently returned to William Paterson to speak with students about my experiences in law school, at law firms, and in my professional life generally (I almost always pass along the advice to try stepping outside their comfort zone!).

Many WP students are first-generation college students, and, though they may have the capability and potential, they might not have the benefit of someone else’s experience and advice (a parent, a mentor, etc.). As someone who lived through that, I make it a point to go back and share as much knowledge as possible to help students potentially avoid the same mistakes and misunderstandings as they advance towards degrees and into careers.

Today, I serve as co-chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences — a board that brings together culturally and professionally diverse WP alumni to advise the dean and the college on issues affecting traditional and non-traditional students and alumni and to help execute on various projects to address these issues. One of our greatest successes has been the ASPIRE Program, which is designed to empower students through degree attainment and help them identify and navigate career paths to further pursue passions and opportunities after graduation.

I have also founded two scholarships for WP students: the Cambridge Summer Program Scholarship (started in 2011), and the Dr. Michael Principe Scholarship for Legal Studies (following his retirement in 2019). Doc had previously established the Cambridge Summer Program that brought students from WP to Cambridge University in the UK to study for several weeks over the summer. Though I was not able to take part when I was a student, I did not want others in financial need to miss out on such an amazing program.

 

 

 



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