Each quarter, TMA NOW helps you get to know your fellow TMA members. This newsletter introduces you to
Global Co-Leader of Corporate Finance & Restructuring, FTI Industry Initiative Leader,
Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP
How did you get involved in TMA?
When I first started out I was in the telecom industry and that crashed. As a result, I moved my entire team into the bankruptcy/restructuring space. From 2000-2005, I worked on 96 telecom restructurings, which is how I became involved with the TMA.
My focus on TMA has been on the multi-jurisdictional side. I am interested in working on cross-border restructurings from a legal perspective.
I have been at Squire Patton Boggs for 16 years and lead the U.K. and Europe restructuring team. Since 2010 we are seeing more and more cross-border assignments. Colleagues in Germany and New York were seeing this as well and they were connected to TMA. My activeness in TMA has helped broaden resources and connections and it's been fun, too!
TMA NOW will be focusing on the following topics in 2016: Leading Change, Successes and Failures, Mentorship/Sponsorship, and Earning the Role. Have you had any experiences in any of these areas that made a strong impact on you?
A recent success is I was promoted to leader of FTI's Corporate Finance and Restructuring Segment. Another success is I built a team from scratch that now comprises 100+ people. At the senior managing director level, there is 100 percent retention and everyone enjoys working with each other.
One of my challenges has been despite much effort and time, I have not been able to secure more senior level females on the team.
In terms of sponsorship, I view that as both external networking and internal networking. To sponsor someone is to provide introductions to contacts good for that individual's career. There is a real opportunity for women in the restructuring industry to support each other.
The best thing that happened to my career was having kids. Having children made me a more balanced and happy person. When I had my first child, it also forced me to learn how to delegate which was better for me and better for the people who worked for me.
Early in my career, I experienced a lot of change within the firms I was working at. I started at a smaller firm in London which then merged with a large firm. We then went through two more mergers over the course of five years. During these changes, I appreciated the fact that leadership at the top disseminated information down and across the organization and empowered their employees. As an employee you felt you were trusted and were given the freedom to do your job. As I have moved forward in my career, I have taken this experience with me and focus on sharing knowledge and empowering my employees.
Through my experience in working with clients, I have found a key to success is listening to the client. The more you listen and understand the client's actual position, you are able to deliver to the client what they need (even though it may not necessarily be what they think they need). Being succinct and incisive when you speak helps clients in pressured situations understand what needs to be done; this can only be done properly if you listen.
One of TMA NOW's goals is to provide professional development geared specifically toward female members of TMA. What's the best career advice you've ever received?
When you sell work to your clients, sell on both expertise and relationships. Most women early in their careers build their expertise and concentrate on selling their skills. But the longer you are in your career, the more you need to develop the relationship side of selling so you can then sell on both. You do not want to get stuck on one side of sales.
Another piece of advice is if there is a senior level person at your firm who likes you and your work, keep in contact with that person and build a relationship. You never know how that individual may be able to open doors for you in the future.
One of the best pieces of advice I received is "Life is a system of points and you cannot have ten." In life, you have to understand there will be compromises.
One piece of advice I share with my younger colleagues is get your political allegiances right. You need to have sponsors and connect with powerful people that believe in you. These connections will propel you forward in your career.
What would someone who only knows you professionally be surprised to learn about you?
Many people do not realize I don't live in New York. I actually live in Colorado but am in New York often. I also work out with a personal trainer who is an ex-Denver Bronco.
Susan: I have a blue belt (spar belt) in the Chinese kickboxing practice of Wu Shu Kwan.