Features

Laura Mongioi – AGC America, Inc.

Deputy general counsel pivots to innovate

Antennae in the windshield that transmits critical information into the car. Fluoropolymer coatings that ward off rust and decay. Flame-retardant laminate that coats 5G wireless equipment.

Tokyo-based AGC aims to create transformative technology and become the primary supplier to major manufacturing companies in the automotive, semiconductor, infrastructure, aerospace and biopharmaceuticals markets.

Laura Mongioi | Deputy General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer | AGC America, Inc.

Laura Mongioi | Deputy General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer | AGC America, Inc.

For Laura Mongioi, deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer for AGC’s North American operations, that can make for quite the laundry list of responsibilities. Her work spans joint development agreements, purchasing and supply agreements and licensing agreements, as well as regulatory work, labor dispute resolution and mergers and acquisitions.

Mongioi strives to be a true generalist, toggling between five distinct manufacturing businesses and a bevy of different legal and compliance concerns.

“We try to be a cutting-edge partner to these businesses in helping them develop the products that they are going to need over the next three to five years,” she says. “We’re trying to not only introduce new products but tweak our existing product lineup for greater performance and efficiency because that’s what our customers demand.”

Tackling emerging markets

Mongioi spends most of her time on AGC’s chemicals, electronics and automotive divisions. She says AGC is tackling multiple new initiatives in the 5G telecommunications space, producing everything from composites based on nanotechnology to thermally conductive laminates. It’s also developing technology related to autonomous and electric vehicles.

To help streamline the development pipeline, she works closely with AGC’s research and development teams, evaluating the products that will be released onto the market for legal and regulatory compliance. She also advises on sales and marketing risks for new and existing products.

As a product moves along the chain, Mongioi’s team partners with each of the teams in the production process—procurement; supply chain; distribution; environmental, health and safety; sales—to set up an internal framework that ensures compliance.

For example, Mongioi and her colleagues develop and implement policies, processes and internal controls for particular products, identify risks around those business activities and negotiate with suppliers and customers.

“It’s important that, as in-house lawyers, we’re leading both with the identification of risk as well as with compliance strategies to address those risks,” she says.

Mongioi’s involvement ensures that AGC can innovate quickly without falling on the wrong side of regulators. And that fast-paced innovation keeps the company growing at a healthy rate.

“At the end of the day, companies that are innovative and progressive attract customers,” Mongioi says. “There have to be new products and offerings on the market if you want to be relevant and serve the current demand.”

Fast-moving strategic partnerships

To that end, AGC has forged strategic partnerships with Fortune 100 companies across each of its business lines.

Mongioi is responsible for setting up the initial business relationship agreements from a legal, compliance and antitrust perspective. In some cases, she stays involved with the various projects the partnership produces by negotiating transactional documents, participating in strategic meetings and advising on legal issues that come up.

It’s a role that can sometimes require a quick pivot—say, if a company initially wanted to go to market to address a certain consumer need but changed course due to supply or regulatory uncertainties.

Laura Mongioi | Deputy General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer | AGC America, Inc.

“These companies want to move very quickly in terms of their projects,” Mongioi says. “So, they need high responsiveness, and they need business partners like AGC, which is very flexible, because not only do they want to move quickly, but they often pivot with the expectation that their partners can do the same.”

Mongioi herself learned to pivot quickly during her time as a litigator in private practice.

“Actually trying cases and going through all of the various ruminations, procedures and dynamics that are involved in litigation really prepares you with the skills to be an effective in-house attorney,” she says. “Especially the ones of not fearing confrontation, being aggressive when the time calls for it and being able to advocate passionately for what you want.”

Blue-collar beginnings

Growing up in Florida, the daughter of a working-class family and the youngest of four children, Mongioi says she was raised on hand-me-downs and had to watch as classmates—the children of doctors, lawyers and dentists—took part in activities like Girl Scouts and sleep-away camp that her parents couldn’t afford. So around third grade, she decided that she would grow up to be a lawyer.

“I learned at a very young age that what you choose to do with your life in terms of your profession directly affects your quality of life,” Mongioi reflects. “And I knew that when I was older, I wanted to have more choices.”

Mongioi earned her B.A. from the University of Florida and her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. From there, she worked as an associate at the Atlanta firm Stites & Harbison. That was followed by stints at Troutman Sanders, Orange Business Services and Doosan Infracore International, Inc.

In 2013, Mongioi joined AGC America, drawn by the prospect of developing a legal team from scratch and being able to work closely with a seasoned general counsel who at that time had no other attorneys reporting to him.

Now, 10 years later, she finds herself handling a diverse range of work because of the breadth of industries in which AGC operates. She says it requires advanced legal skills that her 8-year-old self could scarcely have imagined deploying.

“Becoming a successful in-house lawyer and being able to handle the rigors of working in a lean legal department for a very complex company, what you really need to do is work hard and think cross-functionally,” Mongioi says. “And I think those abilities have really served me well.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Winter IV 2023 Edition here.

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