‘Star culture dictates that 50-year-old men are seen as the real deal.
To be a good deal-doer it’s not only about negotiating. You need to be organised and have a masterplan to get things done. Women will say they’re good at project management, men will say they’re good negotiators. Juggling, multi-tasking, managing teams – none of these necessarily come easier to men than women.
I’m rarely afraid to be seen to be collaborative and friendly on deals. There are often too many egos in the room. It’s important to listen and be open, make suggestions which are genuine.
Matthew Layton was a key mentor. He was collaborative, genuine, persuasive. Matthew taught me to be all over the detail, to be well-prepped and not waste anyone’s time.
It is important to front-load and help clients plan ahead. Prioritising commercial points is essential. I advised KKR on its acquisition of Calvin Capital smart metering from Infracapital. It was a pre-emptive bid and the sale and purchase agreement needed to be signed on Friday. I was moving house the same day. The focused due diligence meant we could turn around the deal in a very short space of time. The client said it was one of the best diligence exercises she had seen.
You have got to have physical stamina. Males don’t find it any easier. You need a lot of resilience to keep going. Women often find the inability to plan life more off-putting than men. You have to be able to roll with the punches. But private practice can be flexible. You’re working at 3am and at the weekend. Clients don’t care where or when you do the work, as long as it’s done.
After deals close it’s important to go to the pub with the team. Clients are less interested than they used to be in networking drinks but there other ways to keep yourself at the front of client’s minds. Poker evenings, the ballet, Disney on Ice…’
Amy Mahon is a private equity and corporate partner at Clifford Chance and cited in ‘Alphas’ Legal Business’ current cover feature on the City’s outstanding women lawyers (£)
Interview by Nathalie Tidman.