Episode 19

Taking the Helm as an Interim Executive: Vanessa Gage, General Counsel, Cedar

Episode summary

Introduction: 00:48

  • Introducing Vanessa Gage, General Counsel and Interim CFO at Cedar.
  • Bringing a legal perspective to budget cycles and strategy planning.

Moving from Deputy General Counsel to Interim GC at Opendoor: 3:03

  • Stepping into a role that isn’t quite the way you expected it to be.
  • Finding the strength to take on an opportunity that surpasses your experience.

Advice for lawyers stepping into interim positions: 5:49

  • Acknowledging the difficulty of stepping into an interim role. 
  • Valuing the importance of asking for the tools you need.
  • Dropping “interim” from your title so you can succeed and grow. 

Catapulting into a GC role at Cedar and taking on the responsibility of Interim CFO: 11:07

  • Raising your hand when it’s time to pitch in and fill the gap.
  • Getting a new perspective on your company by leading a second team.
  • Finding ways to do more than just keep the lights on.
  • Hiring the right people to keep operations running smoothly.

Advice for GCs who find themselves taking on additional interim roles: 17:17

  • Staying the course while tackling the projects that just can’t wait.
  • Accepting the inevitable attrition after an executive departure.
  • Getting through transition periods by building trust in leadership.
  • Knowing when “good enough” is the best course of action.

Pushing the business forward without tying your successor’s hands: 21:40

  • Breaking down tasks to see what is urgent and what can wait.
  • Accepting counsel as a lawyer who is used to counseling others.
  • Receiving executive buy-in from as many of your peers as you can.

Preparing to step back from your interim role: 27:12

  • Revisiting the contributions people have within the room. 
  • Acknowledging the growing voice of lawyers in making business decisions industry-wide.

What you are proud of and book recommendations: 31:25

  • Working with a team that leans in and steps up.
  • Taking joy in reading stories that are as far from reality as possible. 

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Tyler Finn
Head of Community & Growth, SpotDraft
Vanessa Gage
General Counsel, Cedar

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