Member Spotlight – New Chapter President Melissa Seitter

by Sander Coxe on January 26, 2016

Seitter Melissa 2014Melissa Seitter, Director of Business Development at Kobre & Kim LLP, recently became NYLMA chapter where she will lead our crew in the coming year.  A homegrown talent that Kobre & Kim has wisely not let slip away, Melissa brings a unique energy and background to the law firm environment.  It’s probably no surprise to any of us to that she finds ways to put her degree in Psychology to use Monday through Friday.

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Thanks for making the time Melissa.  If you don’t mind, let’s pick up where we left off when we met at the SIG event this summer.  So you are an athlete…what sports?

Ok.  My first sport was actually basketball. I played competitive youth AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball.  It was intense and serious. We played all over the country, and traveled a lot.  I was away almost every weekend.

Wow – what position did you play? 

I usually played in the 2 slot (aka shooting guard).  It was a lot of fun.  I loved the feeling of watching the ball leaving my hands knowing that it was going in.  I in fact I still hold the New York State record for most 3-pointers in a game.

Sweet!  how many is that?

I think 8.

I love it.  Do you still play organized ball?  And did you play in college?

I actually didn’t play in college.  I was heavily recruited and while I loved the game, I played so much youth ball that I was a bit ready for a break from it by the time I got to college.  Of course, being in the habit of devoting so many hours a day to a sport, once I got to college I got a little bored, so I needed to find something else to do.   I ended up rowing lightweight crew and being a coxswain.

What an interesting switch – what made you choose crew?  Had you rowed before?

No, I had never rowed before.  But I loved combining the precision and technique and teamwork required to be part of a boat, and the level of physical fitness involved to compete.

Do you still row now?

Ha!  No way.  I do jump on the erg at the gym once and awhile and that’s enough.

Where did you go to college?

I went to Marist College in Poughkeepsie.

That’s some real sports.  D1 in many yes? 

Yes.

Let’s go back to your comment about teamwork.  Basketball to me is wonderfully instructive on teamwork.  Sports of all kinds are so good for learning about life.  How does all that competitive sporting background carry into your current day to day?

Sports has been a huge influence on how I think and do everything – in work and in life.   To be frank, I had a number of really tough and challenging coaches – including my father.  My dad who was only my coach when I played is still my life coach and my go-to person when I’m faced with adversity both professionally and personally.   All of my coaches taught us some tremendous life lessons – particularly the importance of teamwork and working together.  And they reinforced those lessons and habits in tough ways sometimes (I still cringe when I hear the saying “get on the line” which meant we would be running suicides for a long time).  I was taught that it was critically important to look people in the eye when communicating with them.

Yikes. I had some similar experiences in sports and though I don’t hold any records for anything, I am impressed with all you accomplished and agree with you on looking people in the eye.  Practice all the little things and the big things take care of themselves. OK, so no WNBA for you at this time.  How else do you apply your sports background in what you do?

In a number of ways.  I originally was going to be a Psychology major and focus on sports psychology and its applications.  Out of school I worked at West Point, at its Center for Enhanced Performance.   This was probably one of the most interesting jobs I’ve had.  I worked with Dr. Nate Zinsser with the Baseball, Lacrosse and Soccer teams on various mental training applications, such as visualization, to help achieve peak performance.  I loved applying those skills and supporting and helping athletes who also serve our military and our country.

That is truly fascinating.  I am with you there and have the utmost respect for our military.  Well done.  How about in your legal life?  How has your background helped?  How did you make the jump to legal business development?

Seitter Melissa 2016 (3)I wanted to be in New York City and began to look around.  I made a last-minute decision to check out this job fair and it was there where I met with Kobre & Kim’s Chief Administration & Business Development Officer, who to this day is one of my dearest friends.  I literally accepted the job the next day and started with the firm in April 2008.  I was hired as an Admin Assistant but ended up sharing an office with the firm’s Business Development Manager, Pallas Knight.  The rest is Kobre & Kim history.

So you climbed the ranks and stayed there.  It must be a good place.

It is.  I love this firm and my role here.  It is by no means for the faint hearted but there is something really inspiring (and challenging) to be a part of a business development driven, entrepreneurial firm.  When I first started at the firm in 2008 we had 30 employees and two offices.  Today we have over 200 employees, including 100 lawyers, working across 9 offices worldwide.

I have stayed in BD the entire time and have been able to create my own practice and plan, so to speak.  Today I have a team of 10 working with me and all of them are really inspiring to work with.  When I’m hiring, I look at people who have a hunger to learn and grow in the team setting.  Teamwork is the number 1 focus that I continue to foster as we get bigger.

Outstanding.  Obviously the Psych degree must help with handling lawyers. 

Yes.  I have a double major in Psychology and Political Science from Marist.  I think it has made me better at working with lawyers, understanding their needs and making them feel comfortable.

What about outside the office? 

Seitter Melissa 2016-(1)Well, I have fantastic husband (Max) and an awesome dog (Tucker).  Tucker is a Plott Hound – the state dog of North Carolina.  On weekends, when I’m not working, we get out of the city and try to enjoy each other’s company – summers at the beach in Montauk with my family, hiking, etc.  We also love entertaining and Max is an awesome cook.

I also love to travel.  I caught the travel bug thanks to Kobre & Kim.  I had never been out of the country before joining the firm).  After my first trip to Hong Kong in 2011, I was hooked.  In the past two months alone, I have visited four countries and multiple cities.  I was in Hong Kong for work, and made a weekend trip to Vietnam.  It is important to me that I carve out a little personal time on these trips to see something new and learn about a new culture.

I always try to find different things to interest me, and get new experiences.  Fortunately Max is similar in this regard, if a little more laid back.  I am pretty type A.

Every state has a dog?  How do I find this?  I just googled and had no luck.  How long have you had Tucker?

Seitter Melissa 2016-(2)Since last January.

Brand new – how exciting!

Yes! It’s been an adjustment but it’s been great.

Where do you live?

We live in Long Island City.  We love it – a great Manhattan view and one stop on the E train.   And great Greek food nearby which is a staple for me.

Food, ah yes.  What do you like?

I love all types of food and try to do a cooking class on every trip I take.  It’s a great way to immerse in the local culture and bring an experience back home with you that you can try to replicate later.  When I was in Vietnam in September we took a class at this placed called Hanoi Cooking Centre.  What I loved about this place was that the founder is a member of KOTO (Know One Teach One) which is an organization that takes underprivileged children off the streets of Hanoi and helps them learn the ropes in the kitchen.  It was really inspiring and the food was amazing.

What does a typical weekend look like?

Most weekends we either entertain at our apartment or head out to Long Island where both of our families are.  My family has small beach house in Montauk so we try to spend as much time as we can out there (when it’s warm).  It is so relaxing just being by the water.   And there is nothing I love more than just floating in the ocean.  On my bucket list is to be able to float in every major body of water in the world.  I’ve knocked a few out already.  We have our sights set on Israel in early 2016.

I also love photography.  I just started my second class.  It has been a great way to try to capture my travels and my family.  Tucker trends about 100 photos a week.

Nice.  I am jealous of your New York life!  Thanks for making the time to be our Member spotlight and good luck as Chapter president in the coming year.

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