50 Women to Watch

50 Women to Watch: Mona Dajani

Mona Dajani, Global Head of Renewables, Hydrogen & Ammonia , Global Co-Head of Energy & Infrastructure, Shearman & Sterling

Mona focuses on project finance, corporate finance, mergers & acquisitions, sustainable finance, portfolio acquisitions and tax equity matters along with advising government and private clients in energy and infrastructure projects. In her more than 25 years of practice, Mona has led numerous financing and acquisition/disposition and project development transactions involving solar, wind, hydrogen, hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass, waste to energy and net-zero disruptive technologies such as connectivity, autonomous driving, and e-mobility as well as gasification, transmission lines, and oil & gas pipelines. She has substantial experience managing syndicated loan and debt capital markets transactions, Islamic finance, equity and debt transactions, sustainable finance, ESG, syndicated commercial bank debt and arranging capital for new and established energy and infrastructure companies.

What is your proudest achievement?

While I have been fortunate to reach many milestones, both personally and professionally, my proudest achievement is giving birth to twins while maintaining a demanding Big Law partnership. Eli and Sofia are my pride and joy, and no amount of money or professional achievements can compare to the happiness they bring me. They have grown to be smart, kind, and passionate young adults and I am proud to be their mom.

What is the most influential piece of advice (professional or personal) you have received?

One piece of advice I was given and give to others is to find a specialty and avoid being a generalist. For example, my specialty is project development and finance in the energy and infrastructure space. This has allowed me to define a clear lane for myself where I have built a thriving career

Where do you see the legal profession in 10+ years?

I believe the next 10+ years will be transformational for the profession. I predict that as processes are improved and standardized and technology enables new strategies for sourcing legal services, we will likely see increasing demands to do more with less. The traditional legal function hierarchy will likely morph into a more agile and cost-effective structure. This will include the use of automated solutions, chatbots and other forms of productized legal services. In fact, the proportion of legal work done by paralegals, data analysts, operational experts and other specialists in the legal function might rise to the point where legal professionals become almost a minority. I also believe the lawyers create may be measured by key performance indicators (KPI) that assess not only how well the legal team helps the organization reduce cost and risk — for example, by avoiding litigation — but also the revenue they help generate — for example, by accepting some litigation risk when the potential reward warrants it.

What is/are your favorite extracurricular activity/activities?

Outside of work and being with my children every chance I get, I love to cook, collect wine, and have themed dinner parties. I almost pursued it professionally, cooking is one of those things that just comes naturally for me, and I think I inherited, because I can cook almost anything and nail it on the first try, much like my grandmother. But the main reason I love to cook is because it keeps me stress free.

What is one thing people should know about you but don't?

I am a certified Sommelier and love making deals over dinner with wine pairings. People are more relaxed and more eager to find commonality. My favorite wine is Meursault which I enjoy drinking with friends and clients alike.

Name your hometown/where you were born/where you grew up and where you live now.

I was born in Alabama while my parents were students at Auburn University. My family is blessed that they are healthy and going almost 60 years together! Subsequently, as a young child, my parents moved to Chicago, so I consider Chicago my hometown. I now live in New York City.

If you were not a legal professional, what other line of work would you pursue?

I actually majored in engineering in college so if I was not in the legal profession I would likely be an engineer.

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