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Title: Associate General Counsel Location: Dallas Age: 35 No. 1 Priority When Marilyn Moore Basso left Elizabeth Arden Inc. for Celanese International Corp., she was � jokingly � encouraged to “splash on the new company’s products,” she says. Jumping from makeup to industrial chemicals may not seem logical, she says, but part of the excitement of the change was the chance to learn a new industry. After all, before Elizabeth Arden, she was at oilfield-services heavyweight Baker Hughes. The more important factor for Basso was the philosophy of the legal department, because she wanted to practice and not just manage. “I knew that you could do either, but I consciously sought out a place where I would be practicing. The thing I love about being in-house is that you’re part of the business team, part of the whole process,” she says. In her two years at Celanese, Basso has won over her clients with credible advice and on-point questions. Robert Yankes, group supply manager, says: “She does a very good job of asking the what-if questions to test assumptions. By asking the what-if questions, it makes you clearly think about what may happen in the future.” And that’s just the beginning, Yankes says. Basso also builds strong relationships, anticipates her clients’ needs, acts decisively and explains risks clearly, he says. Basso says there’s no great secret to her success. “I’ve found if you’re direct and communicate with your clients, you can build a relationship of trust.” Her deal-making skills, honed at Bracewell & Patterson and Baker & McKenzie before she moved in-house, are praised highly, as well. Bruce Bennett, former vice president of strategic resources at Celanese, remembers one of Basso’s first deals with the company. Bennett’s go-to lawyer was called away to China while they were hip deep in an acquisition in London, and Basso flew over to fill in. “I didn’t know her from Adam. I was pretty upset about losing my guy,” he says. Then he briefed Basso for a few hours, she put in some 18-hour days and the deal was done. It was seamless, Bennett recalls. Basso’s winning personality is not lost on her new boss, Curt Shaw, who took over as general counsel in April. She builds confidence in people, which comes in handy when a deal hits a bump, he says. Basso has the stamina to power through the all-nighters that accompany some transactions, Shaw says, but she also has the wit to avoid them. “When people get stuck and stay up all night working on things, it’s usually because they don’t have the flexibility and the personality skills to sit down and come up with a solution,” he says. Basso says she places value on flexibility and prioritization, in deals and interaction with her clients. “Every client’s project is his or her No. 1 priority. They can’t all be your No. 1 priority. You need to manage expectations.”

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