Pitch Best Young M&A Lawyer 2021: Rona Nisar, Clifford Chance

De genomineerden maken dit jaar kans op de M&A Award voor Best Young M&A Lawyer 2021.

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Company: Clifford Chance Amsterdam 
Job Description: Senior Associate Corporate M&A 
Age: 32 
What are the specialties of this talent? 
Rona advises international and domestic private equity houses and corporates on (cross-border) acquisitions and disposals, leveraged buyouts, restructurings and joint ventures. While Rona is able to support clients in a wide range of sectors, she is increasingly focusing on Tech and Telecom M&A. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the world into the Tech future so Rona's focus on Tech and Telecom is invaluable. Rona is known for being an astute commercial lawyer and fast becoming one of our key dealmakers. She is a great communicator (and fluent in 6 languages) and really helps guide clients and their counterparts to getting the deal done. She is pragmatic, dedicated, hardworking and meticulous, while keeping sight of the big picture. Rona has the rare ability to manage legal risk without falling into the trap of "over-lawyering". Rona's positive and resilient attitude are widely recognised and valued by her peers and clients alike. Rona's excellence as an M&A lawyer is exemplified by the high-profile transactions she has recently worked on:  

  • Newly established and independently managed Digital Infrastructure Vehicle on a complex tri-partite deal whereby Deutsche Telekom and Cellnex became anchor investors in the fund and combined their tower businesses in the Netherlands; 
  • Tele2 Group on the merger of its Dutch business with Deutsche Telekom's Dutch business, T-Mobile Netherlands and on the recent sale of this business; 
  • Royal Ten Cate and Gilde Buy Out Partners on the sale of TenCate Geosynthetics; 
  • Faber Halbertsma Group on the sale of its Dutch and Belgian pallet production business; 
  • Royal DSM and Sinochem on disposal of DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals to Bain Capital; 
  • Royal DSM on its acquisition of SRF Ltd.’s Engineering Plastics business, a leading player in India in the development, production and sale of specialty materials 
  • Wendel on the acquisition by its portfolio company Stahl of a leather division of BASF; 
  • Lagerwey and its shareholder Ponooc in a large-scale wind energy project with NovaWind, a subsidiary of the Russian state company Rosatom.

How does the talent distinguish itself from its peers? 
Rona is an inspiring role model. She is a former Afghan refugee and a full-time working mother of two young children successfully operating at the top of the demanding, fast-paced world of international M&A deal-making. Rona's wide-ranging (inter)personal qualities make her stand-out as an invaluable asset. Rona combines insightful strategic thinking with a pragmatic, can-do attitude and an open, friendly personality – a combination of characteristics that is highly valued. Rona is a trusted team player, with excellent leadership skills.  

Described by her colleagues as positive, eager to help and pleasant to work with, Rona is committed to supporting her team, from juniors to partners, to deliver the highest-quality services to clients. As deal captain on a transaction, she always maintains an overview of all workstreams. While getting the deals done, Rona finds it important to take the career development goals and work-life balance boundaries of junior lawyers into account, being herself a full-time working mother Rona is a great communicator.  

She is fluent in 6 languages (English, Dutch, Russian, German, French and Ukrainian), which she uses to great effect. For example, on one of the cross-border transactions involving a Russian speaking counterparty, Rona was trusted to handle parts of the negotiations as she was able to convey the client's needs to the counterparty. Another example is the way she was easily able to be seconded to Airbus, one of the firm's major French clients. Rona always looks beyond just getting the deal done. She has a natural ability to win new business and is very focused onbuilding long-term, sustainable relationships with the clients she works for. Rona's commercial acumen has been further sharpened through her secondment to Airbus. In addition, Rona constantly strives to grow and invest in her personal development. For example, in 2020, she completed the MBA Essentials Program at the London School of Economics and Political Science with distinction, amongst others, to be able to accommodate clients' needs in the field of strategic planning and financials when those are translated into legal drafting. All these qualities combined make Rona a very rounded and trusted advisor. 
What impact does the talent have within the organization? 
Rona is widely appreciated by her colleagues for contributing to creating an open, diverse, inclusive and collaborative work environment.Since 2014, Rona has been an active member of our Diversity and Inclusion working group, where she strongly advocates for thefirm's diversity and inclusion strategy. For instance, Rona has helped organise various internal and external events for female professionals, as well as coaching and leadership programmes aimed at female lawyers to accelerate their advancement. She alsoparticipated in our internal reverse mentoring programme designed amongst others to help female / ethnically diverse lawyers andsenior (male) lawyers to have an open discussion around biases and to broaden their understanding of some of the challenges that they face. This year, Rona was involved in launching our Amsterdam 'Accelerate' chapter, our gender parity group committed to accelerating the pace of change towards gender parity and driving forward an inclusive and diverse culture. In addition, Rona is also involved in activities focused on creating awareness towards multi-cultural diversity, not only within the firm but also externally. For example, in the past Rona contributed to the "Kleurrijke Top 100", the annual ranking of Dutch game changers from different communities that have an impact on a small and large scale. Rona is also driving collaboration between lawyers and business professionals, as 'one team' through committees that are aimedat continuously upholding the firm's core values. Furthermore, Rona works together with our HR team in recruiting student trainees and developing trainee lawyers through mentoring and coaching. She also recognises the importance of building knowledge within the firm; she regularly contributes to the firm's legal templates and provides training to junior lawyers via our internal learning 'Academy'. 

What impact does the talent have outside the organization? 
Rona's positive impact goes way beyond the scope of her work within our firm. As a former Afghan refugee, Rona has always been willing to give back to the community and to contribute to the well-being of those in need. For more than a decade, she has been actively involved with the KEIHAN foundation which provides development assistance in Afghanistan and in the Netherlands to Afghan refugees by way of legal, health-related and educational projects. For example, Rona contributed to setting up e-learningfacilities at Kabul Medical University and helped arrange for training of Afghan anatomy professionals in the Netherlands. She also helped organise an academic exchange program for medical students from Kabul Medical University to study at the Leiden medical university for several years. Furthermore, Rona has recently started to teach an M&A course to trainee lawyers of 18 international law firms as part of the LawFirm School programme, a Dutch organisation providing law students with training that prepares them for the legal practice. After the renewal of the professional training for lawyers by the Dutch Bar Association in March 2021, Rona was responsible for creatingmaterial for the new M&A course. 
To what extent does the talent make the difference to clients? 
Rona is trusted by clients on a wide range of corporate and M&A matters. Her fantastic legal skills combined with her client-handling skills allow her to gain the confidence and respect of clients and counterparts quickly, which truly adds value andfacilitates negotiations, as shown by the below comments from clients. Marielle Hoeijmans, General Counsel at HES International: “Rona is thorough, enthusiastic, strategically strong, thoughtful and understands what the business needs. She has a bright legal mind without forgetting the practical context and is an absolute pleasure to work with. ”Waldemar Maurer, Managing Director at DTCP: "Rona shows outstanding commitment and great leadership skills. She largely drove the process and negotiations independently and oversaw the entire project and all work streams (due diligence, drafting of the many legal docs, process coordination). She made sure that nothing fell off the cliff. She has great legal knowledge and wealways felt very comfortable as a client with Rona’s advice. She showed great breadth and depth of knowledge and we valued her advice on every single aspect. She also has impressive drafting skills; always to the point and great attention to details, even to the smallest wording tweaks. We would work with Clifford Chance and especially Rona anytime again!"Alberta de Vries, Global Head of Tax & Legal at Stahl Group: "Rona is a great person to work with, she is knowledgeable, pro-active and hands-on. She is able to guide us and keep our focus on the important matters during the M&A negotiations." 
Why does the talent deserve this nomination? 
Rona is a highly sought-after M&A lawyer. She combines her knowledge of the law, with commercial insights, a pragmatic yet meticulous approach, incredibly positive attitude and work ethic to providing the highest-quality service to our clients, while driving an inclusive and collaborative culture within the firm. Rona is seen as a role model, and her positive impact both inside and outside of the organisation truly make her a unique candidate. 

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