July 14, 2016
Don Liu will be joining Target as our new general counsel in a few short weeks. Making his way to Minnesota from the East Coast, Don will bring a tremendous amount of legal expertise to his new role at Target. We couldn’t wait to learn more about his career and what he thinks about the city he’ll soon be calling home.
Why did you pursue a career in law?
I was born in Korea where it was common practice for expecting parents to hire what was called a ‘name creator.’ It’s a profession that still exists today and their job is to assign names to newborn babies. In choosing a name, they do a lot of research into a family’s background and lineage. They get to know the parents and then look at the date, time and circumstances of the baby’s birth. In my case, the Korean name they gave me meant, “law of the East.” My parents’ name creator predicted I’d be a member of the legal society someday and named me accordingly.
But as fate would have it, I spent years fighting against my parents and that premonition. I rebelled, wanting to be a minister or a civil rights leader. But toward the end of college, I came to own my namesake and decided to pursue law school with an ambition to change the world.
What do you love most about your work?
I view myself as a business leader who just happens to have a legal degree. I always want to use my background in law to contribute to the business in a unique way. Some may say my first job is to be a lawyer, but I truly believe it’s the other way around.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments?
When it comes to being general counsel and running legal departments, I am very proud of the number of people I have mentored. I’ve always had a long list of mentees, and many of them are now general counsels at Fortune 500 companies, having created their own success stories after moving on from the companies where we worked together. I’ve coached many others more informally over the years and I always find it’s one of the most rewarding and fulfilling parts of my career.
What was your first impression of Minneapolis?
Two things really stand out. First, the terrible weather has been greatly exaggerated. During my visits in the last few months, the weather has been lovely. It’s also much more urban than I expected. The last time I spent any significant time in Minnesota was 20 years ago when I traveled there for business. A lot has changed since then. It’s been gentrified in a way that is really impressive. And as a side note, Target Field was fantastic when I took in my first Twins game.
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