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Securing America’s Future:

The Power of Liberal Arts Education

Deborah Platt Majoras

Chief Legal Officer and Secretary, The Procter & Gamble Company
Westminster College (PA), Class of 1985
Deborah Platt Majoras is the chief legal officer and secretary for the Procter & Gamble Company, which she joined in 2008. In that position, she oversees a legal and government relations department that includes nearly 600 legal and government relations professionals.
 
From 2004–2008, Majoras served as chair of the Federal Trade Commission, where she focused on ensuring data security and protecting consumers from emerging frauds, such as identity theft and spyware, and served as co-chair of the President’s Identity Theft Task Force. Prior to the FTC, she was the principal deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, where she served from 2001–2003. After clerking in federal court in DC, in 1991, she joined international law firm, Jones Day, where she ultimately became a partner in the firm’s antitrust practice.
 
Majoras serves on several boards and is active in the community. She has received several awards and honors, including most recently as YWCA Career Woman of Achievement recipient, Corporate Board Member’s “GCs to Watch” honoree, and Ohio Women’s Bar Association Founder’s Award recipient. She graduated from Westminster College (PA) summa cum laude in 1989 and received her JD from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1989.
Students often ask me about the path that I have taken since college, and I laugh to myself when they wonder, “how could someone with an interdisciplinary studies major combining sociology, Spanish, and Latin American studies go on to have this career?” The answer is that my liberal arts education did not prepare me for one particular job or profession; it prepared me for any that I would choose once I truly found my passion. Westminster College, with its faculty devoted to teaching each student both as an individual and as a team player, taught me three critical things that have made all the difference: How to Learn, How to Think, and How to Communicate. This strong foundation gave me the basic skills to begin at entry-level jobs; the intellect to engage in the analytical thinking that law school required; and the broad-based perspective and agility that support problem solving and characterize any successful career, with all of its twists and turns, its challenges and opportunities. Significantly, it was from this foundation that I built the capacity to become a leader in my profession and community.

My liberal arts education did not prepare me for one particular job or profession; it prepared me for any that I would choose once I truly found my passion.

Today we often talk about living in a “VUCA world”—that is, a world that is “volatile, uncertain, complex, and Ambiguous.” Those who succeed have the right stuff to navigate the VUCA world, and that requires not just IQ, but also “EQ”—those who know how to collaborate effectively with diverse individuals and teams, learn quickly in new circumstances, think creatively in reaction to ever-changing realities, and communicate in a way that reaches people who are bombarded with information. Although initially daunting, it is exciting to live in this world and to have the opportunity to contribute. And of two things, I am certain. First, I know that the whole of my experience at Westminster—from the studies, to the participation in classroom discussions, to the living with my sorority sisters on campus, to the many activities—was instrumental in preparing me to have the “complete package” of what is needed to meet each and every challenge today. And having developed a love of learning makes it all so much fun! Second, I know that when I hire people today, I look for that “complete package”—that well-rounded combination of IQ and EQ that distinguishes one job candidate from the next. I can teach the technical skills, but I am looking for those who can go beyond the technical to become strong contributors and, eventually, great leaders.
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