General Counsels Discuss Global Risks, Opportunities

Baker & McKenzie Partner Dieter Schmitz led a discussion between General Counsels from leading companies during the Doing Business Globally program in Minneapolis this afternoon. The panelists were:

Karen Park Gallivan, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Graco Inc.

Matthew Revord, Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, General Counsel and Secretary, Potbelly Sandwich Shop

Jim Seifert, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Ecolab

Ivo Daalder, President, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

A few highlights from the discussion:

  • Mr. Seifert said business can be a great avenue for peace around the world. The recent US election does not mean that solid, existing business plans are now off track. At the end of the day, the President’s power is limited.
  • Ms. Gallivan discussed Graco’s strategy to keep its manufacturing in the US. While the decision may have been unpopular at first because it creates a lot of pressure as a manufacturer due to regulatory burdens and other concerns, it is turning out to be a very good thing for the company.
  • Mr. Seifert discussed the growth of China, and that the nation’s GDP will be greater than the US in several years. He also noted the country is the largest purchaser of US debt. As a result,  a changing relationship with China could have significant consequences.
  • Mr. Revord discussed geopolitical risks and Potbelly’s growth internationally, as it now has more restaurants outside the US than within it. He noted differences in their products in different countries, accounting for changing standards and tastes from one country to another.