Managing People and Properties: Traveling Unique Paths to Global Operations

Friday, April 26, 2024
Marilyn Vazquez and Jackie Sillis

Jackie Sillis, our firm’s Regional Director of Administration for Europe and Middle East (EME), has helped lead the organizational performance of Morgan Lewis for 30 years. Marilyn Vazquez, recently returned to the US West Coast where she is Regional Director of Administration-US, has helped the firm cook on all burners from three different perches since 2010. The pair recently reflected on their career pathways—and the ways they’ve each seen their time with the firm evolve.


Marilyn: I’m from Cuba originally, and I came to Miami when I was 12. After I started working, a recruiter friend reached out to me to discuss the Director of Administration (DOA) position in the Morgan Lewis Miami office. At that time, I was working in the same building on the 31st floor. The Morgan Lewis offices were located on floors 52-53.

Jackie: I applied to a tiny newspaper ad in 1993 for a law firm seeking a commercial assistant with both English and German. Well, I had studied German and Spanish at the University of Edinburgh, completing a postgrad course in languages for business, and then spent three years working for a Chinese dam construction project team in a large German firm in Frankfurt. So the firm and I were a match, they offered me the job, and the rest is history!


Jackie: I have had a bit of a meandering career path, but it has given me a wealth of development opportunities and the chance to work with some great colleagues on a broad range of interesting projects and initiatives. After my first role with the firm, I was promoted to office manager, handling Human Resources (HR), facilities, and billing. I also managed our move to larger premises as the office expanded. Following that I relocated to the United States in 2000, joining the HR team in Philadelphia working on compliance initiatives, liaising with office administrators outside of the United States, and coordinating expatriate contracts. In 2007, I relocated back to the United Kingdom where I took on the role of international HR Director in London. Following the expansion of the office in 2012—which was a feat that was made possible by the amazing London support teams who collaborated to onboard and welcome 35 new team members and set up a solicitor training program over the course of a week—I moved into the Director of Admin role and now also support the EME region office administrators. During my time in London, I’ve seen the team grow from 70 to more than 230 team members, and we’ve added many new offices worldwide.

Marilyn: I joined the firm in September 2010 as the DOA for the Miami office. In August 2016, I moved to San Francisco to manage the San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices. With so many years in Miami, I had never really thought about moving across the country to a city where I didn’t have family, friends, or business connections, but as I considered the growth opportunity, professionally and personally, I knew it was the right decision. Sometimes you have to take risks to grow. In August 2021, I volunteered to be the interim DOA for the Boston office. In November 2021, my role expanded as the DOA for the Boston, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley offices. In August 2022, I was promoted to Regional Director of Administration for the West Coast offices, and in October 2023, I was promoted to Regional Director of Administration-US. My greatest challenge was managing through COVID, which presented many challenges, ranging from ensuring the safety of all personnel and maintaining productivity to keeping everyone engaged and adapting to remote work.

In my role as the Regional Director of Administration-US, I am responsible for the management of multiple offices by providing strategic leadership and promoting service-level quality and consistency. Obviously, I’ve been given amazing opportunities for career growth and professional development. I am grateful every day for the opportunities provided to me by the firm and each office, for their support, guidance, collaboration, and most of all, for the wonderful working relationships we have built together since I joined the firm.

Jackie Sillis

Marilyn Vazquez and Rachelle Dubow, managing partner of the Boston office, celebrating Employee Gratitude Day.


Jackie: The firm has encouraged me to make a difference in my local communities. Along the way, to name but a few, I participated in a volunteer reading program and helped coordinate a party for mothers and children in a homeless shelter in Philadelphia. I also assisted with career insight weeks, was a volunteer with the Superwriters at Millfields School, and helped make habitat hedges and clear reeds from a pond in a local nature reserve in London. I don’t have much time to focus on myself, but I enjoy theater, traveling, hiking, and yoga, and I’m a member of a book club. I also support my son Nathaniel’s school charity, helping organize fundraising events, and I spend a lot of time cheering him on at his gigs as lead guitarist for a band of 12- and 13-year-olds, plus his under-14 tennis league matches.

Marilyn: My passion is to travel around the world and explore new cultures. I have visited 25 countries thus far and can’t wait to continue exploring. Speaking of which, I’m excited that in August I’m going to Budapest, maybe with a stop in London or Madrid! I just feel that travel exposes you to diverse cultures, traditions, and perspectives, and it fosters a greater understanding and appreciation of the world’s rich cultural heritage. It helps break down stereotypes and promotes empathy and respect for people from different backgrounds. Traveling also challenges you to step outside your comfort zone, adapt to new environments, and overcome obstacles. It builds resilience, self-confidence, and independence, encouraging personal growth and development. On top of that, I also love to hike and try to do it as often as possible.

Jackie Sillis

Jackie Sillis's son, Nathaniel.


Jackie: There is always a great satisfaction when you onboard new team members or complete a construction project. But helping to open the Beijing representative office, the Paris office, and the Dubai office were very significant moments for me as well as traveling to San Francisco to support the opening of the new office there. These were all exciting developments for the firm.

Marilyn: I’m probably most proud of the investment I’ve made in the professional development and contributions to the career growth of team members and witnessing their progress. Their success is a source of immense pride for me. Additionally, each challenge I’ve encountered in my time at the firm has presented an opportunity for growth and innovation, allowing me to learn something new every day and to strive to become a better manager.

Jackie Sillis

Marilyn Vazquez and Travis Larson, Morgan Lewis's
Chief Administrative Officer.


Jackie: A whole host of things. Mostly it’s the people, the amazing teams in London, across the region and globally, who always embrace challenge and never hesitate to pull together to do whatever it takes to get the job done. When I was in Philadelphia, I was very fortunate to have the firm support me in achieving HR qualifications and developing HR skills. I have also gained a wealth of knowledge on real estate and health and safety management, and I’ve had regular chances to work with great colleagues on a broad range of interesting projects and initiatives as the firm is continuously evolving and focusing on important issues. So, between the people and the firm’s active support of my professional development and the opportunities I’ve been given to contribute to the firm’s culture, it’s no wonder I’ve been here 30 years!

Marilyn: Relationships keep me engaged at Morgan Lewis and committed to our firm. Our collaborative work environment, where employees are encouraged to work together, share knowledge, and support one another, is so important to me, and it’s the very essence of who we are.

Jackie Sillis

Jackie Sillis is an active volunteer in London,
shown at World Cleanup Day 2023.