Over the past several years, introverts have gotten a great deal of attention (whether they like it or not), as their analytical skills and leadership attributes have been brought to the forefront.
Carol Havemann-Lynch (72JD) could’ve told you this decades ago.
Now retired from a 38-year career with Exxon Mobil Corporation, Havemann-Lynch brought her thoughtfulness, analytical skills, and natural concern for colleagues to a series of impressive positions with the company as well as leadership in the Iowa Law alumni community. While it might surprise those who’ve seen her command authority and express reasoned opinions, she says, “like most tax attorneys, I’m very introverted.”
Havemann-Lynch was recently recognized with the College of Law’s Alumni Achievement Award for significant accomplishments in her legal career and service to the law school, including as former president of the Iowa Law School Foundation. And although she doesn’t relish walking into a room full of strangers, she considers the law school and the university communities to be more like family.
Discovering corporate law
Havemann-Lynch joined the University of Iowa family in the 1960s. She’d spent her freshman year in college at a small private college, but when it began to seem “too much like high school,” she transferred to the University of Iowa and eventually earned her JD from Iowa Law.
As a young law student, Havemann-Lynch didn’t know much about the practice of law. “I guess I assumed I was probably going to be an attorney like they had on TV at the time,” she recalls. “But [I] quickly concluded that I was not interested in criminal law or family law.”
Havemann-Lynch discovered her niche in Father David Bayne Corporations class as well as in courses on Federal Tax. “These classes completely drew me in and I took every tax or corporate law course that Iowa offered at the time,” she recalls. She was interested in corporate law and tax law because she enjoyed “that challenge of understanding the rules, how the rules work together.”
After law school, Havemann-Lynch chose an in-house corporate position. Introversion played a large part in that decision. “I knew at the time I wanted to go with a corporation, not with a law firm, primarily because I know my personality. I did not want to be out to dinner every night, trying to be a rainmaker, bringing in clients. I mean, I had difficulty trying to sell Girl Scout cookies,” she jokes. “I wanted to sell the most but I didn’t want to knock on people’s doors and ask people to buy things from me.”
She also was looking for a company where she could see herself building a career. “I was one of the fortunate ones. Way back when, one could start with a company and, if all went well, one could also retire from that company,” she says.
Leading through times of change
In her decades with Exxon, Havemann-Lynch worked in the company’s offices all over the United States and also travelled extensively around the world. Over the course of her career, she worked for Exxon’s Exploration and Production, Refining, Chemical and Nuclear companies. There were major changes in the energy industry over the decades and she helped her company weather many fiscal changes and challenges. At the time of her retirement, she had oversight responsibility for tax law, compliance and litigation positions throughout the world as Exxon’s Associate General Tax Counsel.
Havemann-Lynch says the education she received at Iowa Law greatly helped her throughout her career. “Iowa challenged me to develop my analytical skills, my communication skills and, in particular, my writing skills,” she says.The law school also honed the competitive spirit and the inter-personal skills of the former Girl Scout who wanted to sell the most cookies. While she describes the environment as “caring,” she notes that it was also very challenging, particularly as one of only six women in her law school class. “[Iowa Law] definitely prepared me for the very competitive environment that I entered at Exxon where I was working with but also [in] competition with tax attorneys from Harvard, Stanford and other top law schools. … Because of the education and the training that I had at Iowa, I was well-positioned for a successful legal career at Exxon.”
Saying “yes” to Iowa Law
The demanding work and travel schedule of her work at Exxon as well as her commitment to her family kept Havemann-Lynch from volunteering for many causes. “I rarely volunteered my time or services to outside organizations. However, when Iowa Law asked me to serve on the Iowa Law School Foundation Board, I said ‘yes’ and I served on that board for 17 years, four as the board president. I said ‘yes’ to Iowa Law because I was very grateful for the education I’d received at Iowa.” Havemann-Lynch now serves on the Board of the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. In recognition of her leadership, service and loyalty to the University of Iowa, she received the Hancher-Finebine Medallion from the University in 2020.
The Iowa College of Law Achievement Award is particularly meaningful to Havemann-Lynch in light of her high regard for the Iowa Law School and its key role in her career success. “I’m honored and I’m appreciative of the of the recognition. When one works with as many Iowa Law alums as I have over the years, you meet extremely impressive individuals who have had amazing careers.” And so, as the introvert with a love for both intellectual challenge and personal connections reflects on the accolade, she notes, “I’m humbled to be included among those who have received achievement and/or service awards from the university.”