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2020 12 People: Tamara Conn

The Legal Mentor

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Last edited 2:34 p.m., Nov. 30, 2020

For Tamara Conn, working hard and helping others reflects the scriptural philosophy she was raised on: “To whom much is given, much is required.” 

That’s why she takes a servant-leader approach to her job as deputy general counsel and vice president of legal services for O’Reilly Automotive Inc., a family- launched Fortune 500 international auto parts company. That approach fits well with O’Reilly Automotive’s culture, which attracted Conn, formerly de Wild, in 2008 when she left her private law practice.

“This is a company whose success has really been based on its culture of hard work, of professionalism and of treating its team members and customers with respect and honesty, and trying to do the right thing,” Conn says. “Though we have grown very rapidly and have over 80,000 team members, we’ve been, I think, very successful in maintaining that company culture.”

Conn supervises most of the company’s legal department and oversees labor and employment legal issues at all levels – such as collective bargaining agreements and labor relations strategies.

For instance, if officials hear the union is trying to gain entry to one of their operations, “We come together with a game plan to combat that; to explain to our team members there’s not a need for a third party presence and that they can work directly with us,” she says.

Conn handles litigation and works with human resources and operations teams on troubleshooting, compliance issues and hiring practices.

“My background is pretty varied from when I was in private practice and one of the things I dealt with was (Department of Transportation) compliance and trucking litigation,” she says. “Sometimes, I’m working with our distribution operations teams about those sorts of compliance issues as well.”

Conn also assists in O’Reilly Automotive acquisitions and works on policies and education resources – often providing training to company management groups. She’s not just practicing law. “To do my job well, I have to understand our business,” she says.

Outside of her day job, Conn was asked to participate in a Missouri State University mentorship program at the Efactory. She works as a sounding board for entrepreneurs and talks them through legal issues.

Mentoring fits Conn’s philosophy of active service.

“I am involved in the community because I think it’s really important to give back, to put my thumbprint on it,” she says of her board work for Ozarks Food Harvest and others.


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