ESQ. Senior Corporate Intellectual Property Counsel, Transactions • General Electric Co. • Fairfield, CT
Cecelia O’Brien Lofters majored in engineering and then switched to law at Harvard Law School. By then she had obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Tech-nology and the University of California at Berkeley, respectively. She simply was not enamored enough of engineering to make it a career, she says.
She served as a junior lawyer at various companies, eventually joining White & Case L.L.P., a leading global law firm, where she became its first African-American partner. In 2000 she joined General Electric Company where she subsequently was named senior corporate intellectual property counsel for transactions at General Electric Co. “I am an intellectual property lawyer, so I deal primarily with patents, trademarks and other forms of intangible assets,” she says of her role at GE. She provides guidance to the Mergers and Acquisitions/Corporate Business Development team when GE acquires or disposes of assets.
Lofters’ education, with its “broad technical training and scientific application of ideas,” clearly laid the groundwork for her professional success. And, as a junior lawyer, she benefited from the support of a network of mentors that included minority lawyers. The role of her family, however, was critical. “In terms of role models and people I look to for day-to-day support, I would say it’s my family, particularly my sisters,” she reflects.
Lofters found inspiration in the words of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,” and imparts them to those she mentors. A mother of three, she still finds time to be involved with Autism Speaks, an organization whose work is “very close to my heart,” she says, and with Jack and Jill of America Inc., an Africa-American family organization.
In her dreams, After retirement, Lofters sees herself at a nonprofit organization agency, working on issues of national importance, such as access to health care. “You have to know yourself, your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, to really have the kind of career that is going to satisfy your passions and interests. As you go through, make sure that you are also creating opportunities for others,” she says.