Kim Harris: From White House Counsel to NBCUniversal
Kim Harris has an incredibly interesting and accomplished background – graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University, earning a law degree from Yale Law School, and working at Davis Polk & Wardwell, the U.S. Department of Justice, the White House, and now serving as Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation and General Counsel at NBCUniversal.
Q: Can you tell us about your career path?
A: I thought I had everything planned out in my early years…but pretty quickly learned that even the best laid plans can change, and often for the better. When I was in law school, I knew I was going to serve as a law clerk for the Honorable Charles Haight, Jr. after graduation and then go on to work for Davis Polk. My plan was to stay at the firm for a few years and then become a federal prosecutor. However, my husband and I decided that we wanted to start a family, and I ended up staying at the law firm, had three kids while I was an associate, and I became partner in 2007.
In 2009, I got a life-changing phone call asking me to work for the Obama Administration as Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division. It was a risk to leave the partnership at my law firm, but I thought the opportunity to work in the Obama Administration would be thrilling. Luckily, I was right. It was a big step to uproot my family to move to D.C., but it was all worth it. I had an amazing experience and was able to work on an unbelievable range of issues that had an impact on people’s lives. It was really fulfilling and exhilarating.
I then worked in the White House for two years, from 2010 – 2012, eventually becoming the principal Deputy Counsel and Deputy Assistant to the President, and then went back to Davis Polk for a short time before joining the NBCUniversal team in 2013…and I’ve loved my job ever since.
Q: Recently, you oversaw all of the international regulatory approvals of Comcast’s acquisition of Sky. What was that process like?
A: It was really busy and intense, but very rewarding. At the time we announced our intention to make an offer for Sky, Fox had already received the necessary regulatory approvals in Europe, but was having difficulty getting through the UK process. That gave us an opening to catch up, but we had very little room for delay. Our incredible team worked unbelievably hard to file for regulatory approval simultaneously in seven jurisdictions, and often had to turn around information requests from regulators in a single day to make sure we didn’t fall behind our schedule. Happily, we received all the necessary approvals quickly, paving the way for the M&A team to make the necessary bids, and win!
Q: What is it that keeps you excited and motivated?
A: I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunities and experiences that my career has afforded me, and I never take it for granted. I really cherish the time that I spent in the White House – it set my career in an entirely new direction. I never got over the thrill of being in the West Wing, and I feel that way about NBCUniversal, too. I have to admit, I love watching TV and movies and try to watch as much as I can. It’s great that I now have an excuse that it’s for work! It’s a thrill to be involved in the magic of the entertainment industry.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Well, I have a husband and three sons, so they keep me quite busy! I also serve on the boards of directors for Advocates for Children of New York, an organization that provides legal and advocacy services to at-risk students in the New York City school system, and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. I’m also a member of the Advisory Board for the Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law.