Catalent Pharma Solutions
Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Secretary
“The day I became general counsel, I didn’t suddenly become smarter,” says Samrat “Sam” Khichi when describing his growth as an attorney. “It’s been more a cumulative exercise of diligently learning the technical aspects of the law and drawing from my non-legal experiences, which for me have included serving as an active duty field artillery officer in the U.S. Army, and as a reserve lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Office of Naval Intelligence.”
Khichi credits his military background with making him a highly disciplined and well-organized general counsel. Leading a field artillery unit offers unique lessons in leadership, responsibility, and management. Khichi also ascribes other qualities, such as his ability to counsel on risk and make good business decisions, that helped him to succeed in his current position.
During his years spent in private practice at O’Melveny & Myers LLP and before that at Shearman & Sterling and McDermott Will & Emery, Khichi occasionally worked on M&A deals in many industry sectors, but only a few in life sciences. Khichi, who has been general counsel of New Jersey-based Catalent Pharma Solutions since October 2007, reveals that he went in-house because he “was ready to own [my] decisions and to be directly tied to the results of my work.” He continues, “I desired to work in an important industry where I could bring to bear my leadership, government, regulatory, and legal skills. I selected pharma not only because the industry improves the lives of millions of people but also because of the complexity of the regulations and the sophistication of the R&D. I find it all fascinating and very rewarding.”
Khichi’s family came to the United States (New Jersey to be exact) from India when he was just five years old. His first week in the U.S. was also his first week of school. He remembers being dropped off with a few new school supplies but not a word of English. “Even then, my father had already made it clear to me that I would get ahead only through hard work and education, so I knew what I had to do,” Khichi recalls. “Beginning in the third grade I started working behind the counter at my father’s dry cleaning store. On weekends I earned pocket money selling greeting cards door to door.”
Those early years of hard work and dedication to learning proved good training for what lay ahead as Khichi pursued his professional goals. After earning a BS in business administration from Georgetown University, where he had an ROTC scholarship, Khichi went on to Fordham Law School, attending classes at night and working days as the deputy director of the NY/NJ High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. He laughingly recollects wolfing down dinner on a crowded subway train each evening during his commute from the office to school.
“My father also taught me the great importance of giving back,” Khichi adds. “I try to do this by taking a personal interest in the careers of the attorneys in Catalent’s very diverse, 20-person department. It’s my obligation to give them all more than financial remuneration for their efforts and to remain particularly sensitive to those in the group who are underrepresented in the profession.”
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From the September/October 2010 issue of Diversity & Bar®