PRIVATE COMPANY WITH ANNUAL REVENUES OVER $500M
General Counsel, Vice President of Compliance, World Wide Technology
A big part of Erika Schenk’s job is making other people’s jobs easier.
It’s true that as general counsel at World Wide Technology in St. Louis, she oversees all legal and compliance issues at the company, but that generally means triaging or handling escalations as opposed to digging deep on individual matters.
“One of my biggest jobs is to make sure all the people who work in my department know that I’ve got their back, and that if they need something, I will help them work through it,” said Schenk.
It’s a role that requires her to develop herself professionally and earn the trust and respect of her colleagues while also making sure they’re connecting with the business on a daily basis. The idea, she said, is “to have everyone feel like we’re on the same team and marching toward the same goal.”
At one point in her life, Schenk could’ve ended up on television. She earned a degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Missouri, and she even worked at the local NBC affiliate as both reporter and producer before deciding to go the legal route. She studied at Saint Louis University School of Law, graduating first in her class, and then landed at what was then Bryan Cave.
“I really loved being at Bryan Cave,” said Schenk. “I had the opportunity to work with a ton of different clients in so many different industries and see the different perspectives all those smart people brought to a problem. It was a really great way to absorb knowledge.”
She spent 14 years at the firm, focusing on corporate transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances, as well as commercial transactions, with a particular emphasis on international transactions.
She then went in-house with Boeing, where she served as senior counsel for special projects. She worked on contracts and acquisitions there, as she had at Bryan Cave, but she got to branch out in certain ways — for example, with drones.
Starting in about 2013, Schenk recalled, drones became a hot topic as residents began to worry about drones hovering outside their windows and local governments started passing bills to address them. One of Boeing’s concerns was that such legislation might impede law enforcement’s ability to use drones manufactured by its subsidiary, Insitu, for legitimate and valuable ends, so Schenk helped to monitor that legislation and weigh in as necessary.
In July 2014, Schenk went to work at World Wide Technology as its first general counsel. She has been there ever since.
Outside of the office, she serves on the boards of Forest Park Forever, the Missouri Historical Society and the Fulton School at St. Albans. She also serves as a trustee on a public, for-profit mutual fund board: that of The Commerce Funds.
Schenk and her husband live in Labadie, near the Missouri River, where they are raising two children and two dogs — a Rottweiler and a Labrador retriever. They also keep bees and a few dozen cattle.