It’s not every day that a third-grader follows through with his or her career aspirations, but Hannah Lim knew she wanted to become a lawyer when she was nine years old. She wasn’t about to embark on this journey alone though, as she pursued her dream with an abundance of support from her family and various mentors along the way.
Lim has five siblings—all of whom grew up to pursue either medicine or law, and helped serve as inspiration for Lim’s own career goals. Yet it was Lim’s hard work and tireless dedication that forged her path through law school and propelled her to a legal leadership role at ADT Security Services.
Starting her in-house career at Tyco, Lim eventually moved to ADT Security Services when it spun off as a separate publicly traded company in 2012. “I’m particularly happy to be working for ADT because I believe in our mission statement: helping to save lives for a living,” Lim says. “It’s a company I believe in. ADT’s business model and the lengths we go to in order to help our customers protect and connect to what matters most inspires me every day.”
Tracing the historic company’s roots back to 1874 (its name originally stood for American District Telegraph), ADT has undergone a multitude of adaptations over the years. Yet for the past several decades, its customer base that now numbers nearly seven million across portions of the United States and Canada has come to rely on the company for a multitude of products and services such as home automation services, some of which includes access video, home health and companion systems, as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detection.
Commercial versions of many of its services are also available and growing rapidly in large part due to ADT’s merger with Protection 1 and ASG through a leveraged buyout led by Apollo Global Management. “ASG (one of Apollo’s previously owned companies) was strictly commercial, and it has a much larger footprint in the commercial space,” Lim explains. “This will help ADT build up its commercial capabilities quickly.”
As vice president, chief litigation, and chief compliance counsel for the company, Lim finds her work fairly split between the two components of her job description. The first is litigation, which in ADT’s case includes complex commercial matters, products, and general liability cases, including insurance and compliance issues; intellectual property, trademark, and copyright matters; environmental claims and investigations; and securities and shareholder claims.
Additionally, Lim also manages internal investigations and government inquiries, and reports to the board on any serious investigations as well as trends. Lim has a total of ten individuals on her team, and she identifies herself as a results-driven, project-oriented leader. She also finds much to love in all parts of her work. “Litigation is about asking yourself, ‘Where do you want to end up and what’s the most efficient and effective way to get there?’ Developing and executing on the strategy of getting to that conclusion is exciting to me,” she says.
The ADT legal leader also brings some of that excitement to her commitment to public service in her community. For several years now, Lim has been actively involved with Milagro Center, a nonprofit agency in Delray Beach, Florida, focusing on education and art programs for disadvantaged and underserved children in the southern portion of the state. Founded in 1997, the center currently features leadership, mentoring, and other academically and creatively enriching programs that benefit about 200 elementary school-age and teenage youth—both on-site and by way of other local agencies.
Both of Lim’s parents immigrated from South Korea to pursue their own educational goals, as well as to provide a better future for their children. Lim’s father—who taught biochemistry at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University—came to the United States in 1962 to pursue his post-doctorate work at Brown University. Lim attributes her success to her parents’ emphasis on education as a means of improving one’s life, so Milagro Center’s mission is naturally appealing to her.
“We have a 100 percent graduation rate [from high school] at Milagro, and all but one of this year’s graduates will be attending college or university this fall,” Lim says.
“Most of the local schools that our students come from have a graduation rate of 60 percent, so I think those [Milagro] numbers are phenomenal.”
After spending a few years there as an ambassador, Lim joined the center’s board of directors in 2014. A five-year plan is always in the board’s sights, but Lim sees changing the trajectory of a highly challenged population of students as the ultimate goal. One Milagro student has been regularly meeting with Lim and another board member to learn more about what he needs to do to pursue his dream of becoming an attorney in the future. “His desire to change the course of his future despite the particular socioeconomic challenges he faces is not only admirable, but personally humbling to witness,” she says.
Lim encourages attorneys who want to go in-house to develop the ability to be flexible, receptive to change, and learn to collaborate with others. ADT was recently purchased by a private equity company, and it has transitioned from being a public company to being private. Lim’s kind-but-firm managerial style continues to serve her well, regardless of the day-to-day situation.
“I have an open-door policy . . . because if there’s something going on in someone’s personal life, it invariably bleeds into their work, and that affects the group and our ability to execute on certain initiatives,” she explains. “My job is to listen carefully and try to help when I can.”
It is about being vigilant as well as observant—two factors that, she admits, can be difficult to do consistently as a manager while at the same time balancing one’s own case load into the mix. “If things on your team start to fall through the cracks, the entire construct starts to break down. I think being constantly vigilant about what people are doing and how they’re doing it is important,” Lim says. “The best part of my job is making a difference. I feel like I can make a difference every day.”
Editors note: At the time of publication, Hannah Lim accepted a role as deputy general counsel, chief litigation counsel, and assistant corporate secretary at Public Service Energy Group.