Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Subhash Viswanathan

January 1, 2020

It was while corralling shopping carts and scanning groceries at a Wegmans supermarket in high school that Subhash (Suba) Viswanathan’s future career as a labor and employment attorney first started taking shape. It wasn’t so much that he couldn’t imagine a career spent working in a supermarket, but the experience triggered an interest in employee relations. “Wegmans was just a great place to work. They treated their employees really well, from the high school part-timers like me to the full-timers. Everyone who worked there seemed really happy, and I definitely saw a connection between that satisfaction and a motivation to do a good job.”

Thinking that he would pursue a career in Human Resources, Suba attended Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations as an undergrad. Suba also continued working part-time at Wegmans while in college. During the summer after his sophomore year, Suba worked as a Human Resources intern for several Wegmans stores in the Rochester area, performing responsibilities such as reviewing job applications, interviewing candidates, completing new hire paperwork, and assisting the Human Resources Manager with the implementation of employment policies. “That was a really fun summer, because I felt like I could be a part of creating the culture that Wegmans wanted to create for its employees.”

As an undergrad, Suba took several courses in industrial psychology, which included studying the body of research regarding the best ways to motivate employees and maximize performance. Suba was particularly interested in the research suggesting that employees are more likely to be motivated and productive if they feel valued and are personally invested in the outcome of their work. “During my senior year, one of my professors told me that there was a company in Ithaca that had recently changed from a production line manufacturing model where everyone does the same task over and over again, to a self-directed work team model where employees are put in teams and are given the responsibility to make products from beginning to end. The company wanted someone at the ILR School to study how this affected employee satisfaction and motivation. I conducted the study and wrote my honor’s thesis about it.”

Because of Suba’s interest in employee and labor relations, Suba gravitated toward the field of labor and employment law. He attended Duke University School of Law, from which he graduated with high honors. Now nearly 25 years into his law practice, Suba helps employers comply with labor and employment laws and represents employers in all types of labor and employment litigation. Suba is also the editor of the firm’s labor and employment blog, and is a frequent author of blog posts to keep clients updated regarding developments in the field of labor and employment law. “I like all kinds of writing. I love putting together a persuasive written legal argument to an administrative agency, arbitrator, or a court. I also like writing about how some new legislation or court decision impacts our clients.”

Like most writers, Suba reads at every opportunity. He especially enjoys reading mystery and adventure books, and is a great admirer of the Harry Potter series. “The imagination and planning that it took for J.K. Rowling to write those seven books is just incredible. The whole story from beginning to end is so perfectly crafted. Anyone who hasn’t read them is really missing something.”

Suba counts his parents, who emigrated from India shortly before he was born, as among the biggest influences in his life. “I still find it remarkable that they left their entire families to travel to the other side of the globe in search of better opportunities for themselves and their kids. I’m honestly not sure that I’d have the courage to do the same thing, but because of the opportunities they’ve given me, I haven’t had to. I’m really grateful for everything they’ve done for me.”