By Josh Rees
Elizabeth Blackman has been with Bell and Howell as an assistant counsel since 2016. She said the company provides her with the perfect work life balance.
Elizabeth Blackman and her husband, Cameron, rolled into their camp site with their new RV camper one night, when they realized their television wasn’t working.
Blackman immediately picked up her cell phone to do some research.
“I knew it was three in the morning, but I was determined to fix it,” she said. “I’ve been camping my whole life, so I knew it had to be the circuit breaker. My husband said that we could wait until morning to call someone and figure it out, but I refused. I told him that I would figure it out.”
She added that anything can be fixed by doing some research.
“So, after an hour of researching online and looking for the fault, I remembered to look in the bathroom in the back of the camper,” she said. “Sure enough, the issue was the circuit breaker.”
Blackman’s passion for research is what makes her stand out with internal clients and customers since coming on board as assistant counsel at Bell and Howell in 2016. But it is a company she is extremely familiar with. Her parents have worked with the company for more than 30 years — Mark and Jane Paul relocated with the company to North Carolina when their daughter was five years old.
Currently, Blackman’s dad is the director of product management and enterprise software, and has been with the company for 33 years. Her mother, who is a commodity buyer, has been with the company for 42 years.
“I remember coming in and watching my dad work on machines when they first implemented bar coding,” she said. “I thought it was the coolest thing ever and I wanted to know everything about them. I told my mom that I wanted to become an engineer to work on bar codes.”
But she didn’t become an engineer. And as enticing as bar codes are, Blackman followed her other dream of becoming a lawyer. And when she passed the bar exam in September 2015, she decided to apply to Bell and Howell as an assistant counsel, instead of going to work at a law firm.
“When you work in-house, you get a little bit of everything,” she said. “With a firm, you have to specialize in one field. I didn’t want to do that, just yet. Also, work-life balance is important to me. Something Bell and Howell is really good with.”
Prior to Bell and Howell, Blackman worked at the North Carolina General Assembly with State Senator Tamara Barringer, R-N.C., as a legal research assistant during law school, where she worked on the Business Corporation Act, helped develop a holding company statute, and assisted on foster care legislation. She also worked in software company SAS’ legal department.
Dan Noga, Bell and Howell’s general counsel, said that Blackman’s prior work has provided her with solid practical experience in legal research, negotiation and problem solving.
“In her relatively short time with Bell and Howell, her professionalism and ability to effectively communicate and work with others to bring matters to closure has earned her the respect of internal clients as well as customers,” he said.
Although Blackman considers herself lucky to work for a company she is proud of, she also values her time outside of work. She has been married for a little over a year. The couple enjoy off-roading, traveling, camping and playing with their four rescue dogs.
When asked about what she’s learned from her pack of pups, Blackman’s face lit up with a radiant smile.
“My dogs have taught me the value of patience, compassion, and being totally present,” she said. “I used to have an issue with thinking about 20 different things while trying to have a conversation with someone. Now I try to be totally present in every conversation, every moment. It helps me tremendously in my work.”
Blackman assists with Bell and Howell’s customer contracts, and her proudest moments are when she sees a contract with a big customer cross the finish line.
“I pride myself in my ability to get the job done,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how something gets done, if I can fix it or think about a problem from a different angle, then I will get the job done.”