Up-Close and Personal with Top Women’s Panelist: Hilarie Bass

Hilarie Bass

Shareholder, Co-Preseident/Greenberg Traurig

Where were you born and raised?

Born in New York and raised in Miami.

What was your dream job as a kid and why?

I wanted to become a U.S. Senator or work in a high-profile government public policy position. I thought it was the most effective way to create change and right the wrongs I saw in society.

How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?

Mel Greenberg, one of the three founders of Greenberg Traurig, taught me early on the importance of taking an active role in directing my career. I sought out leadership opportunities within my firm and even when I was turned down initially, I did not let that discourage me. Instead, I first built my leadership skills by seeking out volunteer positions in community organizations.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date?

I am extremely proud of my success in leading the team that overturned the Florida law prohibiting gay adoption, which at the time was the only one of its kind in the U.S. There is no greater feeling than knowing you have changed the course of so many lives for the better. Even today, complete strangers thank me for making it possible for them to adopt.

What’s your secret for success?

Delegate as much as you can, both in business and in the administrative end of your professional life. I would rather pay someone to run errands for me on a Saturday if it allows me to spend the day doing things I enjoy.

Mentors?

Mel Greenberg was a key mentor to me throughout the early stages of my career. I think it is particularly important for women to make sure they have both male and female mentors.

What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?

As a leader, one key skill to learn is how to convince the people on your team that you are all working toward a common goal. They have to believe that what you are trying to accomplish is in their best interest.

What is one thing that not many people know about you that may be surprising?

After graduating from college, I went to New York to study under Lee Strasberg and landed various Off Broadway roles. The highlight of my acting career was a recurring role on the soap opera, Somerset. Had the show not gone off the air, I might never have gone to law school.

How do you disconnect/what do you do for fun?

I love skiing, spinning, traveling and spending time with friends or family, particularly my toddler grandson.