Q: Let's start with a brief summary of your career to-date.
Omega: I qualified and practised as a solicitor at Herbert Smith prior to attaining an MBA from INSEAD in Singapore and France. I graduated from INSEAD in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis – it was a tough time but I worked hard to network and get great work experience, gaining connections which have since served my career well, including working at both Eurohypo (now part of Wells Fargo) and Greycoat prior to joining CBRE.
I was a Director in the Corporate Finance team at CBRE immediately before joining Brown Rudnick where most recently I was a Partner in the Special Situations team. There my practice straddled legal, commercial and corporate services, advising clients with private capital investing in, or financing, pan-European real estate or real estate credit.
Q: Tell me about your practise area and your client base
Omega: My practise area is Debt Advisory. This is a new practice for Mishcon and offers the firm’s clients an integrated service throughout real estate transactions, from debt sourcing to completion. Our clients can be businesses, where we are trusted to run the debt financing process on behalf of CFOs or CEOs and their finance teams, or they can be investors who might, for example, be seeking to expand their lender relationships.
In practice this means I help property clients to find the right debt for their real estate projects or deals. I spend a large proportion of my time speaking with lenders including investment banks, clearing banks, debt funds and P2P lenders, in order to understand each lender's financing appetite: this changes on a regular basis as lenders' strategies and allocations change. When a property client needs debt financing I help them to source and negotiate competitive terms. The Real Estate Finance team led by Nick Strutt will then help clients with the documentation.
Q: Over the years what has been the most memorable deal you have worked on and why?
Omega: Financing a prominent Central London hotel which required approximately £300m of debt. The brief was to secure separate senior and mezzanine debt. I managed to source a pocket of overseas institutional mezzanine debt priced at a fixed rate of 7% at a time when the majority of the market was circa LIBOR plus 12%; this translated into a huge saving for the client and also introduced two lenders to each other who had not worked together before.
Q: Throughout the course of your career who would you say has been the biggest influence?
Omega: I cannot attribute it to just one person but I try to learn from everyone around me. I strive to pick up as many good habits and avoid as many bad ones as possible.
Q: What would you say is your strongest characteristic?
Omega: My husband said: "To see a big picture and hold it in your mind, whilst fighting in the weeds on each detail".
Q: What is the most unusual request that you have ever had from a client?
Omega: I was once asked if could finance a sustainable crop in Mozambique – this was not quite my area of expertise!
Q: What would you say is the best part of your job?
Omega: Connecting the dots and adding value to my clients' businesses.
Q: What are your interests and hobbies outside of work?
Omega: I have a young family that takes up a lot of my free time. I like running and spinning and sometimes go flying with my husband as he has a private pilot's licence. I've also been learning Mandarin for a number of years, and try to fit in a conversation class at least once a fortnight.
Q: Do you have any favourite books that you would recommend or books that you are looking to read this year?
Omega: I would recommend to everyone 'Invisible Women' by Caroline Criado Perez, which looks at the gender data gap - from government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media. It reveals the biased data that excludes women and more generally illustrates how important diversity is in decision making: what is obvious to one group may not even be on the radar for another.
I've also just finished reading 'Stories of the Law and How It's Broken' by The Secret Barrister and 'Why We Get the Wrong Politicians' by Isabelle Hardman.