General Counsel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Secretary of Sun Microsystems
Mike Dillon ’84 had an epiphany while bicycling across New Zealand after college. Dillon, general counsel, senior vice president, and corporate secretary of Sun Microsystems, had little clue then about what he would do with his hybrid degree in sociology and communications. At a youth hostel he fortuitously met a newly minted lawyer who convinced him that law was the way to go.
Dillon launched his career as a litigator, but over time began looking for in-house opportunities for a closer and more proactive client relationship. He found Sun, already on its way to becoming a networking systems leader. Dillon joined Sun in 1993 and after leaving once to help launch an optical networking company called ONI Systems, he returned to Sun. He became its top legal officer last year.
Among Sun’s 32,000 employees in 25 countries, Dillon says, are “some of the most brilliant minds on the planet,” and their innovations spawn equally cutting-edge legal issues for Dillon. As Sun also undergoes a major internal transformation, Dillon manages a worldwide legal group of 250. As a manager, Dillon remembers the open-door, “human approach” that he found at law school. “I felt I could always walk into a professor’s office and ask him a question,” he says, adding that he tries to emulate that approach with his own employees.