Diane Greene and her legal team at GSFSGroup faced a monumental task: Develop and complete a transformational partnership agreement regarding vehicle product services that required the approval of 23 state regulatory authorities and 15 consumer finance lenders — all in less than three months. And that was before the other side’s GC left in the middle of the deal.
The agreement, the largest and most important in the history of GSFSGroup, added $165 million to its revenue stream and grew its product volume 28 percent. Greene and her team are finalists for the 2022 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for Transaction of the Year.
For Mark Curriden’s full profile of Diane Greene Click Here.
Texas Lawbook: Any life or career mentors?
Diane Greene: I haven’t had a formal mentoring relationship during my career. I have had several individuals who helped my development along the way. The first was at Oklahoma State University, Kent Sampson, who was an administrator in Residential Life. He saw leadership potential in me and encouraged me in my various student government “adventures.” Those experiences were the start of advocacy and government relations skill development. I would say the bosses and other executives I have worked with at GSFSGroup have been instrumental in my development, first as an in-house attorney then as a manager and, most recently, as strategic business leader. Each of the different presidents I have served with seemed to each take an interest in a different aspect of developing my leadership, management and business skills through feedback, coaching and GSFSGroup’s performance management system.”
Lawbook: What is a life-impacting experience you’ve had?
Greene: I would have to say the most life impacting experience has been having my husband be the “stay-at-home parent” and partnering with me to raise our boys. We made a decision that it was important to both of us to have one parent at home once the boys started school. We talked and prayed about which one of us would jump off the career path to do so. When we decided that Steve would do so, we weren’t sure what to expect. It put us both in nontraditional family roles. Neither of us had envisioned this path growing up. However, I am so lucky that Steve was the special type of man and dad who wanted to do this. He truly is the CEO of our family and household. The support that he has provided to me has been incredible. While he was handling carpools, meals and keeping the house running smoothly, I was able to intentionally select mother/son activities to stay connected to the boys even with a busy working mom’s schedule — mom-and-me gymnastics when they were small and then cub scout/boy scout leader roles as they grew older. Steve covered all the volunteer activities at the schools and coached all their sports teams at one point. We both went on field trips. He covered all duties when I traveled for business or worked late. Professionally, I know I wouldn’t have been able to grow in my roles without the support at home. I know that I am incredibly blessed in being able to do this, and it’s not something everyone can do. We both are glad we did what we did as it contributed to our growth individually and gave us a great family experience.
Lawbook: What do you look for in hiring outside counsel?
Greene: I’ve been fortunate to have our company aligned with the primary law firms we’ve used for the last 25 years. What is important to me is knowledgeable counsel with an expertise in the area in which we are seeking assistance. Along with their knowledge, I look for attorneys who will partner with us in our business by offering practical, actionable advice. Counsel who takes the time to get to know us, understand our business and can best assist us with solutions that we need to move the business forward. We need counsel that knows the laws and regulations and how they impact our industry and then can apply them to help my team create business solutions.
Lawbook: What does outside counsel need to know about you?
Greene: I’m passionate about GSFSGroup and providing it with the best legal and business representation, whether through internal staff or external assistance. I expect that from outside counsel and look for a high-quality product. I read everything that outside counsel prepares, carefully and thoughtfully. I will ask questions and I will look for practical advice that we can implement in our business — not just a statement of the law. I expect assignments in advance and not dropped for my review at the last minute. I believe that I am reasonable in my requests and while I may call on a Friday with an issue or a problem, that is usually because it’s the time I finally had to sit down to do so, not because I need someone to ruin their weekend with our work. In fact, I often tell outside counsel that, when I have to make those late-in-the-week or late-in-the-day calls.
Lawbook: How important is pro bono and diversity in your hiring of outside counsel?
Greene: Our company values the contributions of our diverse associates, and we have a strong record of support in the communities where we are located. With outside counsel and others with whom we do business, we look to firms that have similar values to ours.