General Counsel University (GCU) germinated from an idea planted at a lunch in November 2018, with then WGCC President Cheryl Foy and director Dorothy Quann, to create a ‘university' for general counsel and other senior legal leaders one created by GCs, and covering topics, knowledge, attributes and skills necessary for GCs.
Starting in 2019, succeeding WGCC President Elspeth Hagan and director Alexa Abiscott built on this nascent idea to identify the opportunity to ground this general counsel university on Korn Ferry’s Leadership Architect Global Competency Framework ®. WGCC partnered with Cleo Kirkland at Korn Ferry to ask that they identify Competencies of the Most Sought GCs, based on their extensive assessments of executives globally. Results were shared in January 2020.
With the chaos of the pandemic in 2020, it took until 2021when WGCC board asked director Bindu Cudjoe to lead the buildout of GCU and engaged Jolie Lin of Linnovation Works to bring GCU to life for WGCC members.
Working with the results of the Korn Ferry survey data and the Competencies as described in Korn Ferry’s For Your Improvement, Bindu and Jolie fleshed out the differentiating Competencies of the Most Sought GCs and, in a 6 month period, developed a program, format and curriculum to found GCU.
Partnering with WGCC’s sponsors (McCarthy Tetrault, Osler, Norton Rose Fulbright and Blakes) and welcoming 4 new partners of GCU (Lawyers InHouse, Conduit Law, Alexa Translations and Kingsgate Legal), Jolie and Bindu developed a curriculum that had Cleo Kirkland and Kendra Marion lead foundational sessions on these Differentiating Competencies, together with programs from sponsors and partners to see how GCs could apply the Competencies in circumstances, situations and scenarios that are relevant to GCs, all designed to enhance the ability of participating GCs to become even more Sought GCs.
WGCC launched GCU in late August 2021, and GCU received great interest from media and other organizations. The inaugural cohort filled quickly to include 12 incredible women GCs with representation from coast to coast, began their learning journey on October 1, 2021. Dorothy Quann was announced as the inaugural ‘Dean' in September 2021.