Emily D. Dickinson, PetSmart’s
GC, with her yellow Lab, Maggie.
Super Lawyers Business Edition, available digitally, via app and in print, opens with a spotlight on the general counsel of PetSmart: Emily D. Dickinson. We couldn’t fit everything in the print edition, so we’ve compiled a few previously unpublished sections to include here.
Dickinson has been with the pet store company since September 2009 and has always had an interest in a career with animals:
“I really love animals and thought that I might want to be a veterinarian,” she recalls. “But my first observation of an operation as a teenager put me squarely on the floor, and I decided that perhaps pursuing a veterinary career might not be in my best interests.”
Little did she know that her love of animals would factor into her current career. “I never really thought about it, but I’ve always had a passion for pets,” she says. “It’s nice to be working in the field. I didn’t plan it this way.”
Dickinson is driven and, in another unpublished excerpt, describes what she views as her priority:
“The most important thing for me is not being a lawyer or a general counsel, but being a member of senior management,” says Dickinson, seated comfortably at a conference table in her modest second-floor office at the company’s headquarters, a brown stucco and glass multi-building complex in Phoenix. “Being able to shape and contribute to company strategies and being viewed as a fellow leader is what I want to do and where I want to be.”
Her vision has served her well. Her first in-house job was at Hannaford Bros. Co. in Scarborough, Maine, where she made an impression on the company’s president and chief executive, Hugh Farrington.
“A lot of people inside the corporate side didn’t really understand what went on in the stores, and Emily developed a talent for that very quickly,” says Farrington, who spent 35 years with the company and its successor. “She clearly was not the typical corporate lawyer. She had the ability to relate to all levels of people. She has a quick mind and was someone who understood all aspects of the business.”