Avnet Inc.’s Erin Lewin ()
Phoenix-based Avnet Inc. is one of the world’s largest distributors of electronic components, including connectors, semiconductors and embedded subsystems. It provides information technology services as well as engineering design, materials management and logistics services, system integration and configuration, and supply chain services customized to meet specific requirements of both customers and suppliers.
Avnet’s revenues were $25.5 billion in 2013, and the company operates in more than 80 countries with 18,000 employees.
Erin Lewin heads a legal department of 114 people, including 23 lawyers and 60 contract managers. Roughly half the attorneys are located outside the United States. The department devotes about half of its time to commercial transactions, another 15 percent to mergers and acquisitions, 15 percent to regulatory work, 10 percent to litigation and the rest to governance.
The department has added more contracts managers to aid its IT services business and assumed responsibility for global security management in 2013.
With mergers and acquisitions providing the largest workload for external counsel, Avnet has worked most recently with London-based Allen & Overy and Morrison & Foerster on global deals. Washington, D.C. – based Covington & Burling handles governance and employee benefits, and Los Angeles’ Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Vinson & Elkins of Houston work on litigation and regulatory matters.
Even with lawyers on the ground around the world, Lewin’s office ends up running interference on operational issues. “The days are fairly predictable once the email traffic gets going, but we might get unwelcome calls from suppliers indicating a problem along the supply chain,” she said. However, that’s one of the advantages of her job — “the chance to work with lawyers all over the world to solve problems.” Lewin travels overseas at least once a quarter. “I try to time it with the weather, but I ended up in Munich in January,” she said.
Lewin reports to chief executive officer Rick Hamada.
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Lewin began at Avnet as chief ethics and compliance officer and moved up to vice president and general counsel for the Americas. Earlier, she worked in law offices at US Airways and America West Airlines. She began her career at Fennemore Craig in Phoenix, specializing in employment and labor litigation on behalf of corporate clients.
She graduated in 1994 from the University of Michigan Law School and completed her bachelor’s in history at the University of Michigan in 1990. “I was a litigator by training, but I found I really enjoyed business counseling,” Lewin said.
Lewin is married, with two boys, ages 8 and 11. She points out that most of her spare time is spent with them and their dog, a Belgian Malinois Shepherd. She serves on the leadership committee of Avnet’s Executive Women’s Forum.
“My hobbies include running and relearning algebra so I can help my son with his math homework,” Lewin said. “Our family enjoys watching the TV show ‘Person of Interest,’ as it features the same kind of dog we have.”