Kelly Hardy Partner, Global Co-Head, Consumer Industry Sector, Hogan Lovells Board Member, World Trade Center Institute How did you choose your career path?
My mother was a real estate development lawyer. It was a career she chose after having a family, and she had a real passion for it – working until the very end of her life because she loved it. When I was thinking about careers, she told me that as a lawyer in private practice she effectively ran her own small business and was responsible for its success. Although I had no illusions about the hard work required to succeed as a lawyer, I knew that it would allow me a level of independence to pursue topics I found interesting and, in a sense, create my own job. It would provide me with the opportunity to work with highly intelligent and interesting people on a daily basis.
What obstacles did you face, and how did you overcome them?
Looking back on my career, two particularly challenging times come to mind. In 2008, at the height of the Great Recession, the demand for legal services dried up, and as a relatively new partner I was still largely dependent on internal referrals for my work. I had to learn very quickly to improve my own ability to create new client relationships. More recently, after nearly 20 years at the same firm, I decided that Hogan Lovells offered better opportunities for me to serve my clients and do the type of work I wanted to do.
What lessons did you learn?
Persistence, hard work, and having a plan pay off. No matter how bad a day might be, you have to focus on what you are going to do the next day, and the day after that, until you reach your goal. I also learned not to let too much of my self-identity get wrapped up in my professional success. The challenges of building a practice during the Great Recession really made me think about the many things that are important to me. When I came to Hogan Lovells, I learned that taking risks, and occasionally failing, can lead to increased confidence and success. I really began to understand that failures are learning experiences. After taking the big risk of moving my entire practice, I am much more willing to pursue opportunities and take risks.
How do you maintain your passion for the job?
It’s simple. I love what I do. Every day brings something different, and I enjoy the intellectual challenges that brings with it. Just as important are the interactions with my amazing colleagues and the clients I’ve developed relationships with over the years. Hogan Lovells has been in Baltimore 30 years this year, and that sort of longevity isn’t an accident.
What’s next for you, personally or professionally?
Personally, I am a year and a half away from my youngest child starting college. That will be a big adjustment, but my husband and I are really enjoying seeing both of our children become young adults. Professionally, I have just taken on the role of global co-head of the Consumer Industry Sector at Hogan Lovells and I am looking forward to working with my team to develop industry knowledge and tools to better understand and serve our clients.
What advice do you have for younger women hoping to follow your career path?
You can do this. That was one of the things my mother taught me, and she entered the profession at a time when there weren’t many women role models and peers. Not only can you do this, but you can be defined by more than your career. You can have a family and get involved in your community.
In addition to my work and my family commitments, I am active in The World Trade Center Institute, which gives me an opportunity to network with some of the top companies and talent in Maryland and also gives me access to ongoing educational programs. I’m also involved in SEED School of Maryland, where I am a trustee, and on the board of a nonprofit organization in Mexico. I find that these different activities complement one another, broaden my perspective, and provide excellent personal and professional contacts. There is time for everything as long as I enjoy the non-work related activities and treat them as my leisure activities.