Whether it’s empowering her staff at Cobra Legal Solutions or speaking at a benefit dinner for one of the many causes she actively supports, Candice Hunter Corby gives her utmost to the task at hand. It’s exactly that commitment and work ethic that guided her through an impressive career and pushed her to become chief executive officer of Cobra Legal Solutions before the age of forty.
Off the Clock with Candice Hunter Corby
What do you enjoy most about living in Austin, Texas?
Not only do we have a great food scene and fantastic music, but it’s also a very athletic city. We have lakes and rivers and outdoor trails for running and biking. It’s constant activity.
How do you spend your free time?
I’m a runner. I just finished my first half marathon in February, and I’m already signed up for the full marathon next year. It has been on my bucket list for a long time, but I only started running four years ago.
What is a non-work
accomplishment you’re proud to have completed?
I was one of six founding members of the Austin chapter of Ellevate, a women’s networking organization that targets different leadership topics and helps younger women navigate their careers. I’m passionate about women’s empowerment—so much so that I pay the Ellevate membership dues for all my senior female staff at Cobra.
With your schedule and workload, how do you carve out time to rest?
I schedule it. This morning my breakfast meeting was with my husband.
What are you reading right now?
A book called The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. It’s a bestseller, and is about the importance of focusing on doing one thing at a time with excellence. People say they don’t have time for things, but they do. The key is to allocate the time appropriately.
You’ve mentioned how important it is for women to mentor each other. How is that reflected at Cobra Legal Solutions?
Women’s initiatives and empowerment are very important to me. All of my senior staff, save one, are female, as are 68 percent of our staff worldwide. That includes our chapter in India, which is particularly significant because a young female attorney in India doesn’t typically have the same career options that her male counterpart might. But here at Cobra, our most senior attorney is a woman. We are changing the opportunity for women in India, and it is good to be a part of that.Why did you take the position at Cobra?
It was a jump from COO to CEO, and I couldn’t pass it up. This was my opportunity to get in the driver’s seat of a global company and have the kind of impact I wanted to have. It was a startup, and therefore very challenging, but it was a fantastic opportunity. The ability to shape a company into how I believe it should be run has been a huge success to me. It’s what I love about my job.
But you seem to approach your work as though it’s more than a job.
Very shortly after taking over as CEO, I made a personal investment in the company and became an owner, which impacts how I lead the firm. It also allows me to make decisions that are very empowering and exciting for our clients and staff. I truly care about the individuals who work at Cobra. It is more than a job. It’s personal because it’s my business.
Are there challenges related to leading a company with an international presence?
If I don’t put my phone on silent at night, it can get ugly. Cobra is a global company, so while I’m sleeping, employees are working in India. We also have people in mountain standard time in Boise, Idaho, eastern standard time in Knoxville, Tennessee, and central time here in Austin, Texas, and Hot Springs, Arkansas.
How do you keep your team connected when they’re so spread out?
We exclusively use videoconferencing when we make global calls, so that we build a stronger connection. We are diligent about having someone fly back and forth quarterly, meeting clients and colleagues, keeping the face time.
You are juggling so much more than time zones. What does a typical day look like for you?
The first thing I do when I open my eyes in the morning is check my e-mail, because I’ve probably had thirty to fifty e-mails come in overnight. I deal with the urgent issues early, then a series of meetings, and I typically work on strategy in the late afternoon.
How do you strategize? What does your process entail?
When we’re assessing potential new clients, we first look at the industries where we have the greatest strength. Then we look at companies within those industries that are large enough to have enough litigation or acquisition worth to outsource that work. After we identify target companies, the management team puts together a team of people who they believe are the best for that particular client. Right now our greatest strength is in the technology, energy, and retail industries, but we are exploring the oil and gas industry for the future.
What about leadership; how do you define your leadership style?
Humbly. I think that leaders have to let people truly know them every day, so my leadership style is being myself. The thing about becoming a CEO is that you don’t earn it—you are it. Not that you know everything on day one, but you must have the ability to acquire the skills and knowledge you need to get the job done.