Leadership Spotlight

Lawyer Sanjiv Kapur Lives Global Responsibility

By Christian Taske ’07

When Notre Dame College board member Sanjiv Kapur travels the world on business for the global law firm Jones Day, his itinerary doesn’t allow for much downtime. On a trip to Rome this September, however, Kapur’s schedule opened up when some client meetings were cancelled. But instead of sightseeing, Kapur arranged a get-together with Sr. Mary Sujita Kallupurakkathu, who had this past month stepped down as superior general of the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Not everybody requests a meeting with the head of one of the largest religious orders in the world, and is invited the next day. But Kapur and Sr. Sujita already had a connection ever since he had been involved in arranging for her to speak at the City Club of Cleveland five years earlier.

Kapur had been president of the City Club at the time, but had not met Sr. Sujita because the week she was scheduled to speak his daughter Anika, age 4 at the time, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Even though they hadn’t met, Sr. Sujita had called Kapur telling him she was praying for his daughter.

“That was very encouraging at the time,” Kapur says. “In that sort of situation, your world is crumbling and you don’t know what’s going on.”       

Even though he is Hindu, Kapur appreciated Sr. Sujita’s spiritual support during what he called the worst days of his life. “It gives you perspective as to what is important,” says Kapur, whose daughter is a healthy third-grader these days.

Exemplary leader: NDC board member Sanjiv Kapur
Exemplary leader: NDC board member Sanjiv Kapur

At the time, nearly trivial seemed the multimillion dollar business deals Kapur helps draft regularly as corporate partner in the second largest law firm in America. Specializing in mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia, Kapur has become one of the preferred representatives for global players including Bayer AG and Harris Corporation. Among his biggest representative transactions are Harris’s purchase of Tyco Electronics’ mobile radio business for $675 million, Bayer’s strategic alliance with Schering Plough involving the commercialization in the United States of its primary care pharmaceuticals including Cipro, Levitra and Avelox, and the sale of Hand Held Product Corporation to Honeywell International for $390 million.

During these transactions, Kapur has to display the kind of qualities he sees in leaders such as Notre Dame College President Dr. Andrew P. Roth and Cuyahoga County Public Library Executive Director Sari Feldman. A good leader needs to be a visionary, a great communicator and a team player, who is able to inspire people and is willing to own up to mistakes, Kapur says.  

“The world is changing all the time, so you have to think not about tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but four, five years out,” Kapur says. “True leaders also surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are, people they can rely on.”

Education is key to acquiring these leadership skills, says Kapur, whose own upbringing was more diverse than most. Born to Indian immigrants, Kapur was raised in Pittsford, New York, but also attended a French-speaking school in Pondicherry, India, from age 3 to 8. He graduated from Harvard University with both his J.D. and A.B., but also studied abroad in Colombia, Ecuador and Germany. He is fluent in Spanish, German, French, Portuguese and Hindi.

“When you are exposed at a very young age to different cultures and ways of thinking, it opens your mind up and you see the possibilities,” Kapur says. “As a young kid, I was much more interested in what was happening in the world.”

Kapur has used his language skills and multicultural worldview to launch a highly successful legal career that will take him, his wife Anju and their triplets to São Paulo in July, where he will work in Jones Day’s soon to be opened Brazil office. 

It’s the next exciting step for a man who lives the College’s mission of “personal, professional and global responsibility” on a worldwide scale.

Christian Taske ’07 is the editor and writer at Notre Dame College.

E.g., 06/22/19
E.g., 06/22/19