Dec 8, 2022
Dec 8, 2022
CFO Interviews

Mae Salem

Mae Salem is a Corporate partner at Squire Patton Boggs.  Mae joined the firm in 2015 and rapidly worked her way through the ranks resulting in a promotion to partner in May 2021 at 9 years qualified and at 32 years old. She is a member of the Private Equity team, which has seen record growth over the past couple of years.

Mae has been described by clients as “a true professional who combines legal expertise and experience with business acumen” and as someone who “once again demonstrated herself to be a trusted partner for us."

Following recent deal, a client said “Her enthusiasm for our work and our Group ensures we receive a proactive service with an infectious level of humour making her a delight and pleasure to work with” and another client said "Mae's focussed approach to solving problems and progressing matters at speed was a key factor in us winning the deal."

'Emerging Dealmaker of the Year' is a huge accolade and has an illustrious list of past winners. Well done on joining that group! What were the most important factors in your success?

Thank you. I am absolutely delighted to have won the award and was incredibly overwhelmed on the night (which I think was obvious!). Especially after the team won the Corporate Law Firm award; what a night! Suffice to say that there were lots of celebrations afterwards.

The most important factor in my success is the team. I'm so proud to be a part of the SPB team. My success is down to their efforts, not just corporate but also specialists across the firm who are all critical to supporting our clients on transactions.

I must credit the support I've had from clients and the local deal making community, both from those with whom I have developed relationships and those who I don't necessarily transact with regularly but who reach out to congratulate on deal closures, promotions, charity events, awards and other successes. We really do have fantastic businesses community.

I'm part of a big family, who are my biggest cheerleaders. This career comes with its challenges, particularly the long hours and steep learning curves, and they're always there to support me.

The private equity deals market has been busy over the last year, what are the main reasons for this and how do you see the market emerging into 2023?

It has been a great year for our private equity practice, which won Law Firm of the Year at the Unquote British Private Equity Awards in October. We are incredibly proud of this special accolade, particularly as we have had an intense and exciting few years in the growth and development of our private equity practice in the UK and internationally.

It has been a period of unprecedented growth and deal activity. There have been a lot of private equity houses with funds to invest and fantastic businesses seeking investment support for their next growth phase. A match made in heaven.

However, we all know that there are headwinds that will affect deal confidence and tighten the debt markets. I didn't work through the financial crash but, having spoken to those that did, the feel seems to be that the recession won't be the cliff drop that was experienced in the crash, but rather a more gradual cycle. There is therefore opportunity for businesses to better prepare and plan for it.

I remain optimistic based on pipeline and think that there will still be plenty of activity in lower to mid-market private equity, particularly in sectors that will continue to thrive and attract investment such as technology and life sciences. There is a real sense of comradery across the local advisors, even where competitive, to make the most of the opportunities and support each other.

What has been the most interesting deal you have been involved in and what are you most proud of?

This is tough one! I really couldn't pick one deal, or even a few…

What I would say is that a lot of work I do is with regular clients. It's rewarding to build long lasting relationship with clients. I really enjoy the team dynamics that come out of this – you become an extension of each other. Positive feedback from clients always makes me most proud of the team's contribution to a transaction.

You have carved your career at SPB and made Partner in a short period of time, huge congratulations.  What do you love about the business and the team you work with?

It might be easier for me to say what I don’t love about the team!

In all seriousness, our team is incredibly collaborative. We celebrate each other's successes (a standing ovation from the team for my award at the Dealmakers says it all!) and help each other through the pinch points. We all have a vital role to play in making our world go round and that's recognised at all levels. Also, we're a lot of fun; I always look forward to our team socials!

The firm creates a culturally rewarding environment in which the team can together and individually thrive. This is important to SPB and something we do very well. I've found in my experience and progression that all of our differences are celebrated and we pride ourselves on the philosophy that it would be a very boring and limiting place to work if everyone was the same or similar. I love the diversity of talent and ideas that comes from this across the firm.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career and what do you love about it?

Before moving to SPB, I was trained by Andy Kay, a Corporate lawyer who has a lot of respect from many in the local deal community who have had the privilege of working with him. He taught me a lot both from a technical legal and career perspective. We are still in touch and he continues to be a fantastic career mentor and role model for me. He's one of the first people I thank when I have significant 'career wins'. I'm super grateful for his support and wisdom.

During my career at SPB, I've been influenced by many people across the firm.

Jonathan Jones recruited me and has supported my progression all the way through. He ensured I had the right level of responsibility on transactions to really push myself, which significantly influenced my rapid progression. He continues to ensure I'm challenging myself to be at my best!

Paul Mann is one of my biggest influencers. I feel very lucky to have such a highly reputable dealmaker as one of my guiding fellow partners to learn from. The way he connects people and develops relationships is admirable. Above all else, he genuinely cares about everyone!

I must also give credit to Jayne Aarons. She is a technical guru and is also a fantastic female mentor. If I end up with a fraction of her brain, I will be happy with that.  

I could go on and on here!

What I love about this is that Jonathan and Jayne were also trained by Andy at different firms early in their careers – small world!

What does the future look like for Mae?

At 34 years old and almost two years into partnership, I feel like I am only just getting started. I'm looking forward to deepening and strengthening the relationships that I have and I'm excited for the new relationships I haven’t had the opportunity to make yet. There is so much opportunity to progress my career at SPB and so much to learn. I'm looking forward to supporting juniors in the team through their progression and hope to become someone else's significant career influence one day.

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