Mentoring Young Lawyers

One of our lawyers is recognized as a role model in South Asian legal community

Sedesh Doobay, Honeywell’s General Counsel for Performance Materials and Technologies’ Integrated Supply Chain, was recently honored for his tireless devotion to the growing South Asian legal and business community and his dedication to mentoring young South Asians lawyers.

Sedi, as he is known to his colleagues and family, talked about his work with the South Asian Bar Association and what led to his Corporate Leadership Award. 

What makes a good leader?
Effective leaders, in my opinion, are those who become role models through understated behavior that inspires teams to drive decision making. Good leaders also ensure that practical decisions are based on instinct as well as knowledge and technological excellence.

What are the biggest challenges for South Asian lawyers?
South Asians have long dominated science fields (engineering, medicine, etc.) but we need to overcome the perception that we don’t have the personalities and aggressiveness to succeed in the legal field. Key to being successful as an in-house lawyer is having diverse knowledge and experience and gaining support in areas where you’re less strong through a trusted and effective network of lawyers with wide-ranging expertise. South Asians are now developing these capabilities.

What messages do you want to give young South Asian lawyers?
Throughout my career I have been passionately focused on encouraging and empowering young South Asian lawyers. I often tell them that in order to succeed they need to go beyond their day jobs to pursue opportunities to influence and uplift underprivileged youth. I also share my experiences that global, inclusive and diverse teams are key to driving business success. 

What led you to become a part of the South Asian Bar Association?
During SABANY’s startup, an initial circle of friends noticed that in order to succeed, we needed to leverage each other’s successes and connections. This reignited our interests in creating opportunities to network with peers and mentor junior lawyers.

What are some of the obstacles to bringing more South Asians into the legal profession?
Generations of focusing on the sciences left South Asians with limited role models and successes in the legal profession, especially in the public sector. Younger generations now are developing that visibility. South Asians also are not often looked at as a minority group in need of help so they have to push for inclusion in diversity programs. 

What is your definition of success? 
Success to me is being fulfilled and challenged in an organization that allows you to achieve your professional and personal best. I focus on listening, always understanding context, taking initiative to find answers from unconventional sources, and challenging the status quo. Also sharing experiences to improve my team or my colleagues is critically important to me.

What hurdles have you encountered in your professional career?
I had to pass on positions in other geographies (international and domestically) which limited my opportunities. But I learned to remain open and eager to take on special projects.  


Victoria Streitfeld

Health, Safety & Environment