Name: Mackie Wood
Position: Chair, Houston Local Group and Business Development Manager at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Family: My husband of five years, David; parents Tom and Carrie; and sister Kendall
Hometown: Houston, TX
Education: B.A., Plan II Honors and B.S., Public Relations; The University of Texas at Austin (Hook ‘em Horns!)
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was the biggest takeaway from the experience?
The summer after seventh grade (and many summers thereafter), I worked at a boutique owned by a family friend. I rang up customers, gift wrapped, organized displays, made $7 an hour and spent my entire paycheck on merchandise before I ever walked out the door. Retail is all about customer service – being polished, personable and professional even under stressful circumstances – and those skills continue to serve me well in my job more than 15 years later.
At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to pursue a legal career and why are you passionate about your profession?
Some of my family members work at law firms, and through those connections, I began having exploratory conversations with legal marketers while I was still in college. After graduating, I worked in marketing at a financial research firm in New York City for two years before moving to Los Angeles and beginning my career in legal marketing. I’ve since worked at two law firms in two cities, supported six different practice groups, and had four different titles. I love that I am challenged and learn something new every day! The projects we handle are intellectually stimulating and always push me to think in new and expanded ways.
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?
Most every weekday, my alarm goes off at 5:00 am and I’m in a workout class at 5:30 am. I’m far from an athlete, but working out early helps me feel refreshed and accomplished before a long day. And, for me, if exercise doesn’t happen in the wee hours, the likelihood that it happens at all that day is slim!
What’s something about your job that might surprise people?
I think my job itself actually surprises most people. For those outside of the industry, “legal marketing” might evoke images of personal injury attorneys aggressively shouting on commercials and radio spots. It certainly did for me! I often have to explain that my job is focused on raising my law firm’s profile and helping my lawyers develop business through pitches, targeted client events, competitive intelligence, thought leadership, prospecting and practice strategy.
What’s the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome, and how did you do it?
I think one of the most challenging – and exhilarating! – things I’ve done both personally and professionally is moving several times in my young adult years. In my 20s, I lived in Austin, New York and Los Angeles before moving back to my hometown, Houston. With each move, I was laser-focused on building and leveraging my network to find the right opportunity for me, which often required a lot stepping outside of my comfort zone and “putting myself out there.” I’m very grateful to all those who helped me along my journey, from East Coast to West Coast to Gulf Coast, and I look for opportunities to do the same for others.
What are your best productivity hacks?
I am the queen of to-do lists, a skill I inherited from my mother. I’m possibly addicted to checking off items. Also, my professional life is governed by my Outlook calendar. If I know I need to follow up with an attorney in 12 months, there’s a reminder going on my Outlook calendar. I couldn’t keep all of the balls in the air without it!
What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?
If you have direct reports, manage them the way they need to be managed, not the way you need to be managed. Everyone is unique and brings different perspectives, strengths, goals and interests to the table. It’s important to appreciate those differences!
What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?
My husband and I love to entertain friends in our home and travel. We just went to Mexico City for the first time to celebrate our five-year anniversary. I was so impressed by the art, culture, history and especially the food!
Tell us about some of your volunteer efforts in the community and why you support those causes/organizations.
Aside from the obvious (LMA), I’m involved in my church and participate in homeless outreach and service projects. I have met some very special people through those experiences and am always reminded of the importance of gratitude.
You’re taking me out to a business lunch in Houston. Where are we going and what do you recommend I order?
Houston has a multicultural and vibrant culinary scene – more so than we are credited for – so, it’s hard to pick just one restaurant! Food halls have transformed our downtown lunch scene in the past year. I would take you to Bravery Hall, where you would have your pick of Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese and Southern fare. Everything is excellent, but I recommend the Chicken Pho at The Blind Goat.
What’s one of the smartest purchases you’ve ever made? What’s one of the dumbest?
The smartest purchase was a home. We closed on our first house, a historic bungalow in Houston’s Heights neighborhood, in June. The dumbest purchase – hands down – was a $10 pair of tights I put on a Macy’s credit card when I was 22 and forgot about entirely. They ended up costing me 10 times that amount in late fees. #honestanswer
Can you name someone who has had a great impact on you as a leader, or someone who has been a mentor to you in your life or career? How have they changed your outlook?
My mom. She had a high-powered career long before that was common for women, and fought and beat cancer as a young mother. She is one of the strongest people I know. She also works in and understands the dynamics of Big Law, so has been a tremendous sounding board and support to me.
What is something you are absolutely determined to do in life?
Visit all seven continents – including Antarctica! I have four down (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America), and three to go (Antarctica, Australia, South America). Any travel recommendations are welcome!