Features

Marie Batz Martin – Coherent Corporation

Financial acumen helps a legal career soar

When Marie Batz Martin thought about what she wanted to be when she grew up, it wasn’t a lawyer—which is exactly why she didn’t go to law school until she was nearly half a decade into her career.

“I always knew I wanted to work at a large corporation, preferably on a global scale, and finance seemed like the best path to me,” says Martin, who graduated cum laude from Notre Dame in 2000 with a bachelor’s in economics and Spanish.

Marie Batz Martin | General Counsel, Global Compliance | Coherent Corporation

Marie Batz Martin | General Counsel, Global Compliance | Coherent Corporation

Her plan worked perfectly as Goldman Sachs took notice of her during a highly competitive campus recruitment process; she was one of three top candidates among hundreds. She joined the global investment banking, securities and investment management firm the summer after graduating.

“My career took flight at Goldman Sachs,” Martin says, “but it was far from my end goal.”

Career acquisitions take flight

Goldman Sachs whetted her appetite for knowledge and financial skills. After two years, she entered the international finance program at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. After graduating with honors in 2004, she subsequently entered Duquesne University and graduated cum laude in 2007 with her juris doctorate.

“I hadn’t planned on becoming a lawyer, but, while at Columbia, I realized that obtaining a law degree was the perfect way to elevate my international finance knowledge and truly become an asset to larger global corporations,” Martin says. “I had achieved what I wanted academia-wise before Duquesne, and the law degree was the final cherry on top.”

Like Goldman Sachs, Alcoa, the former Aluminum Company of America, recognized Martin’s potential while she was still a student, recruiting her from law school. Leadership promoted her several times during her 12 years there, during which time senior leaders personally appointed her manager of special projects in corporate development, the internal investment banking and strategy group.

“My general counsel and other very senior business leaders entrusted me with keeping confidential all matters related to Alcoa’s planned separation into two publicly traded companies: Alcoa and Arconic,” she says. “I was working on potential merger and acquisition transactions and a large joint venture in Russia for the benefit of Alcoa’s aerospace customers, all while we were working on separating the company at the same time. There were a lot of very confidential balls in the air.”

While at Alcoa and Arconic, she also served as general counsel to three business units, including a multi-billion-dollar titanium company Alcoa bought in 2016. In this role, she handled all legal matters, from mergers and acquisitions, litigation, labor and employment, real estate and intellectual property to trade compliance, ethics and antitrust issues.

“I loved the variety of work, but after over a decade, and following a stint as an M&A partner at Dentons Cohen & Grigsby, P.C., I wanted a new challenge, and I eventually found that at FlightSafety International, when a recruiter found me  when the company was putting together a new leadership team,” says Martin, who became the professional aviation training company’s executive vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary as well as ethics, compliance and privacy officer in August 2020.

Marie Batz Martin | General Counsel, Global Compliance | Coherent Corporation

At FlightSafety International, Martin tackled everything from legal team and executive management to mergers and acquisitions and global compliance. In fact, she says that she emulated the work she had done at Alcoa and applied it there, adding that she still speaks to her former general counsel at Alcoa, Max Laun. She tells Vanguard with a laugh that she and others in the Alcoa legal department went to the “Max Laun General Counsel Academy.”

“I was the perfect fit because of my mergers and acquisitions background as well as my experience in aerospace,” she says. “Yet, I believe it was my team building skills that were really imperative there, as I built the legal team from nothing to six lawyers within a year.”

A global career

In January 2023, Martin was hired as the general counsel, global compliance for Coherent Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She handles trade compliance, corporate compliance and privacy for the approximately $5 billion public company, a global leader in materials, lasers, networking and semiconductors. Martin’s global team spans North America, Europe and Asia, including China.

“In a way, my career has come full circle, as I’m using my diverse background in finance, law and international affairs at Coherent,” Martin says.

In fact, all of Martin’s roles made it possible for her to fly across the world—something that’s also been a boon in her personal life. When she and her husband met, they were both travelling across the world; their third date was during a weekend when they both were in Paris.

Not only has her husband worked with Bosch for over two decades, he’s also responsible for the Carnegie Bosch Institute, a unique partnership between Carnegie Mellon University and Robert Bosch, a global engineering firm. Despite various homes and constant overseas travel to six continents and more than 50 countries, Martin always makes sure to take time out to support others—and learn from them. She proudly served as board director for the nonprofit Allies for Children and is a member of several general counsel networks.

Throughout her career, she’s also championed diversity, equality and inclusivity as well as environmental, sustainability and governance corporate initiatives. She is passionate about mentoring younger women. She says she applies what she learns from speaking to other executive women who are part of Chief, a private membership women’s network that connects and supports women executive leaders.

“Whether at a university or through networking, the constant in my life and career has been my passion for learning and constantly broadening my horizons, as well as championing other women,” Martin says. “I enjoy bringing that to the places I work and the people with whom I interact.”

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

Published on: August 29, 2023

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