BEFORE TAKING ON THE ROLE of Emerson’s chief legal officer at its St. Louis headquarters in August, Sara Yang Bosco had been out of the country for 25 years, and not worked in a
legal job for the last eight.
Previously based in Hong Kong, she led Emerson’s
corporate operations and strategic development in the
Asia-Pacific region since 2008. Initially, she joined the
multi-billion engineering giant in 2005 as general counsel, Asia-Pacific, a position that required her to oversee
the company’s legal affairs in the Asia-Pacific region,
as well as provide legal counsel on a wide range of
matters such as mergers and acquisitions, compliance,
dispute resolution, and corporate and commercial
operational matters. And before that Bosco supported
the corporation as external legal counsel in her capacity as a partner with the Hong Kong offices of the Baker
& McKenzie and Perkins Coie law firms.
“Emerson’s growth in Asia corresponded with
my time in Hong Kong and the development of my
private practice,” explained Bosco. “I did their China
transactions for a long time before going in-house.
They offered me an in-house position more than once.
The third time I reasoned that if this was something
I wanted to do I better accept because this might be
their final offer.
“I felt I had nothing to lose.” She explained, “I
brought a lot to the job. I’d been practicing for over 20
years in private practice so I came with certain level of
self-assurance. This confidence and feeling of freedom
liberated me to be more vocal and willing to point out
problems. I wasn’t going to change too much from the
person they already knew.”
And while she presumes Emerson knew what they
were getting with her, she was met with some sur-
prises. “There was a lot more work than I’d expected.
But I also felt a large sense of relief—I no longer had to
worry about hours and business development that’s so
important at firms. I half joked that I should have gone
Her eight years as general manager acquainted
Bosco with Emerson’s business side, she adds. “As gen-
eral counsel, it’s imperative to understand all aspects
of the business. It’s not enough to be a good lawyer.
Because the business is complex and international,
any one issue has multiple points, and legal is just one
part of it.”
Bosco grew up in South Bend, Indiana, where her
father, an immigrant from Shanghai, was employed
as a professor. Her mother was born in Hong Kong.
And like the children of many immigrants, Bosco was
Sara Yang Bosco
pushed to succeed. “I liked to talk and argue so my
parents directed me toward law. The other only other
option would have been medicine. That was my identi-
ty growing up, an identity that I readily accepted.”
Looking back, Bosco said being Asian and a
woman has not been a problem at Emerson. “The
biggest challenge has been not having an engineering
background in a very engineering focused company.”
Executive Vice President, Senior
Vice President, Secretary and