Please tell us about yourself

In Ruchika Kumar’s family, the legal pedigree is as strong as the moral one.

When she was eighteen, Kumar, who grew up in India, took the written test to get her driver’s license. She passed. But her father forbade her from bribing the local bureaucrat, who refused to issue the license without one. She took the test again, and passed, but her father still insisted that they would not contribute to the corruption endemic to the local government. Kumar finally received her driver’s license—without a bribe—on the fourth attempt.

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What do you do?

That outlook continues to support Kumar’s approach at Genentech, where she serves as assistant general counsel. She positions herself as a trusted advisor to the business she works for, providing solutions and guidance in support of the patient, the law, and the partners.

The organization is particularly interested in unmet medical needs, those conditions and communities for which effective treatments are few. It’s that patient interest that drives its business, she says, and she can sense the mission in every meeting. “Even when you’re advising on legal issues, the patient interest is always kept in mind,” Kumar explains. She is continually inspired by the company’s mission, which also includes giving back to the community in the Bay Area.

What did you study?

After doing my B.Sc. (Maths/Statistics) from Hindu college, Delhi University, i did my Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) from Faculty of Law, Delhi University followed by Master of Laws (LL.M.) from University of Pennsylvania Law School

What was your career path?

Kumar took a roundabout course to her current position. After earning her LLB in India, she was eager to broaden her perspective with education in the United States. She applied to the University of Pennsylvania but only let her parents know when she was accepted.

With a great deal of help from her family and community, Kumar left India to further her studies; following that, she served as a one-woman legal department at a number of tech start-ups. Thirteen years ago, she closed that chapter to have her first child, but within a few short months, missed the stimulation and camaraderie of the legal profession.

Returning to work at Genentech, Kumar was excited by the opportunity to learn new territories of the legal business. Over the past twelve years, growing within a large, complex organization, she’s also been able provide some guidance to her colleagues. “I made a nontraditional switch within Genentech, and through that I learned new areas of the business and acquired new tech skills,” Kumar explains