Ingredion Inc.’s Christine Castellano ()
Have a taste. Westchester, Ill.-based Ingredion Inc. turns corn and other starch-based raw materials into sweeteners and provides many ingredients to food, beverage, brewing and pharmaceutical companies and other industrial sectors. The Fortune 500 company was founded more than a century ago as Corn Products Refining Co.
Today, Ingredion ranks among the nation’s top agribusinesses. The company employs 11,000 people worldwide and serves customers in more than 40 countries. During 2013, sales reached $6.3 billion.
Christine Castellano supervises 19 attorneys in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Roughly half of the work involves transactions, 30 percent employment law and 20 percent litigation.
The department has an internal intellectual property group comprising two attorneys. “Our attorneys have either expertise or geographic areas of responsibility,” Castellano said. “As we grew, it became important from a workload and relationships perspective to assign one attorney to focus on each region.”
John O’Hare of Sidley Austin takes corporate and securities work, David Hackett and Regine Corrado of Baker & McKenzie international work. Ingredion uses some 60 firms for worldwide matters, with Foley & Lardner on patents and Baker & McKenzie some trademark matters, generally those requiring global coordination.
Castellano is working with “all major firms in terms of fixed-fee or alternative-fee arrangements, as well as trying to improve communication on fees.” The worst possible situation, she said, “is a surprise.”
Castellano meets with fellow executives several times per week and regularly with her own staff, either in person or on the telephone. She spends 60 percent of her time giving “legal judgment and advice”; 15 percent drafting contracts; and the rest managing. She strives for a legal-friendly culture within the corporation. “It’s all about relationships. We spend time with our clients in person whenever possible.”
She is testing the waters with legal pro bono: “I will be working with DLA Piper attorneys at a legal aid clinic this spring,” she said.
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Castellano joined Ingredion’s predecessor company in 1996, was running the department by 2012 and assumed her present duties in 2013. The Jacksonville native holds a 1987 bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and a 1990 J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. She joined McDermott Will & Emery as an associate in employment, construction and general corporate litigation. She credits her mentors, including “my predecessor, Mary Ann Hynes,” for teaching her about “managing relationships, evaluating risk and providing practical legal advice.”
“I am a Colorado girl at heart, so I love camping and hiking and being outdoors, preferably in or near the mountains,” Castellano said. “I enjoy international travel, cuisine and reading — history and historical fiction generally.”
TV AND BOOKS
“I love BBC shows like ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Mr. Selfridge.’ After a busy week at work, Castellano enjoys “escaping with a good novel.” She recently finished “The House Girl” by Tara Conklin.