Here at NETGEAR, we love to recognize the outstanding achievements of our team members. Our Senior VP of Corporate Development and General Counsel, Andrew Kim, recently received an award by the Silicon Valley Business Journal/SF Business Times, for being the Bay Area Corporate Counsel of the Year in the category of “Diversity Champion”.
Born and raised in New York, Andrew attended Yale for his undergrad, and received his law degree at Cornell University. He practiced law in NY and Chicago, until he and his wife settled down in the Bay area for good in 2006.
For the past decade, Andrew has been invaluable as our General Counsel, and has helped usher in many important acquisitions and venture investments. A true example, Andrew also heads up the “Bay Area Asian American General Counsel”, an organization he co-founded in hopes of increasing the representation of Asian Americans in his field through mentorship, fellowship, and fundraising.
We took a few minutes to chat with Andrew about his accomplishments and his efforts in increasing diversity in the legal profession.
Congratulations on your well-deserved award. In terms of diversity, what kind of progress do you think is being made across the country?
“We’re trying. We are making some progress, but we still have a long way to go. In Silicon Valley in particular, the population is very diverse. The problem, however, is twofold; the percentage of women and minorities in the general workforce population is not where it should be, and when you get to the executive level, that under-representation is even further exacerbated. With Asian Americans, for example, although around the Valley we’re not considered minorities in terms of rank and file, when you look at the leadership levels, we are seriously underrepresented. We make up around 30% of the rank and file, but less than 13% of executive leadership. Asian women have it worse, making up only 3% of executives. And the rest of the country is even further behind.”
You are being called a “diversity champion” for your work in the community. In your opinion, how can other people champion diversity, and where do you think change comes from?
“Change itself has to come from the top. People in leadership positions are setting the tone, making the decisions, creating the culture, and easing some of the friction so that people can move up.
But also, from a basic level, we can all cause change by who we hire, by mentoring, and for those of us lucky enough to be in a position to do so, by applying pressure to our vendors to become more diverse. If we tell our vendors that we’ll spend our money elsewhere unless they make meaningful strides in diversifying their workforce, they are much more likely to take action.”
Do you have a favorite motto or quote?
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
Is this something that you strive to live your life by?
“It’s definitely something I’d like to eventually work towards. I think ultimately, my first love is writing. Eventually I’d love to write screenplays or books. I do like making people laugh, or at least, trying to.”
If you had to go back in time, and choose a whole different career path, would you have chosen to go into law? What else would you have done?
“I think I would have been a writer for Late Night with David Letterman or Saturday Night Live actually.”
Have you ever pursued a career in entertainment or writing?
“I was a restaurant critic online, back in New York. I was writing about food online, back then on this website about cool places to eat, and I got sort of a cult following. I became friends with the restaurant critic who started the site, and then together we co-authored the restaurant section of the travel book The Unofficial Guide to New York City, so I am a published author. If I had more time and wasn’t slaving away 24/7 for Master Lo (hahaha), I would probably be doing a little blogging on the side now for sure.”
As a lawyer, you work really long hours, plus I know you have 2 kids. This is a question we often ask women, but I think it’s equally as relevant to ask of men, how do you go about balancing your work and family life?
“It is actually really hard because my wife works long hours also. Our daughter is 11, and our son is 6 years old, so we have a nanny taking care of the kids during the day, and we take turns getting home early in the evenings and then go back online to work after the kids are in bed. But on the weekends, we make sure it’s mostly family time, as often as possible.”
Do you have particular advice you like to give to your kids, or to any young people starting off in their career?
“Yes, I always say that you should really do what you love and what you’re passionate about. I really do believe in that. I tell my kids and other people that all the time. When you do what you love, success eventually takes care of itself.”