Q&A with Landon Edmond JD ’98, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, GCO and Cloud business group, SAP SE, San Ramon, CA
Tell us a little bit about your career path since graduation. How did you end up where you are now?
I went to Morrison and Foerster immediately after law school and did IP/commercial litigation. Funny enough, two years into being at MoFo, I got a call from Brian Frank JD ’95 asking me if I wanted to be a licensing attorney at his company called Ariba. Having no experience, I said no, but he persisted telling me it did not matter. I fell in love with in-house life and now, twenty years later and with Ariba acquired by SAP, I am GC of a team of in-house legal professionals in 40 countries.
What has it been like to be with the same company for 20 years?
With all the changes in the tech sector and at my company (dot.com era to bubble burst, rebound to financial crisis, converting from software to cloud and being acquired), the job has not felt the same. Moreover, I started as an individual contributor and transitioned to managerial functions. I really do not feel like I have been in the same job given all the variable changes other than my paycheck still says Ariba.
What do you feel most passionate about in your current work?
I am most passionate about how our products transform companies and being a part of that process is beyond exciting. Most importantly is that I love working with and getting to know the people on my team. My current team is roughly 300 people, so it is tough but a priority for me to know them on a personal level. It is wonderful to shrink the world, and having a global team has afforded me the opportunity to meet and grow from other global cultures and perspectives.
What do you find most challenging about your work?
Up until COVID, the most challenging part of my job was the travel and being on the road. Our headquarters are in Germany so multiple trips to Europe are the norm. Now the challenge is accommodating time zones being based on the West Coast. I find myself waking up early and working in the evening to chase the sun.
What are some experiences or classes from Santa Clara Law that you feel best prepared you for your work now?
Interestingly enough, I did not know at the time that my contracts class would be so critical to my job over the last 20 plus years. In fact, I hated contracts (I still do not know what consideration is), though I loved Professor Herman Levy. I expected to be a trial lawyer like Johnnie L. Cochran (who I got to meet during my first year of law school while the OJ trial was going on at an event in LA). My advice would be to learn and embrace each class, as you never know what you will be good at or what knowledge you will need at any given time in your legal career.
What part of your Santa Clara Law experience makes you feel the most grateful?
I am most grateful for the support getting through law school by the staff and professors. So many folks impacted my law school experience and supported my career thereafter. As I mentioned earlier, my current role and 20 plus year run at my company came directly from a relationship that was created during my time at Santa Clara. I still am very close to many of my classmates and consider them lifelong friends.
What most surprised you about your law school experience?
I was most surprised by the expectations. I remember having to do the first assignment that was 60 pages of reading for Property where I was looking up every tenth word in my Black’s Law Dictionary. I asked myself, could this really be what this would be like the entire time? The answer was yes, but you find a groove, some good colleagues to study with, and the experience was then quite enjoyable, despite the challenging work. I was surprised that I could get used to rigor and high expectations!
What would you say to someone considering coming to Santa Clara Law today?
I recently took my kids by the NEW law school–the campus is more beautiful than ever. With all the beauty of Santa Clara University, enjoy your time on campus, embrace the educational experience, stay open-minded, and build relationships with your peers/professors as they will carry you through your legal career journey.
What do you do in your spare time for fun and relaxation?
After playing basketball through college, I realized that sports really do prepare you for most life and career challenges. Accordingly, I really enjoy coaching youth basketball (AAU and High School) as I know I am really helping young folks find their competitive edge for life though it is embedded in teaching basketball skills. I also enjoy traveling with the family and spending time on any beach we can find!