Heather Sonnenberg Recognized as a Top Woman in Commercial Finance by The Secured Lender
Blank Rome Partner Heather Sonnenberg has been recognized in The Secured Lender’s fourth annual Women in Commercial Finance issue, which profiles 50 women who are “making their mark” on the commercial finance industry by distinguishing themselves through their individual accomplishments and breadth of representation.
This special issue of The Secured Lender helps further the mission of the Commercial Finance Association’s Women in Commercial Finance Committee to promote the advancement of women in leadership in the commercial finance industry through networking, education, and advocacy.
Women in Commercial Finance Profile: Heather Sonnenberg
Heather Sonnenberg is a partner in Blank Rome’s Finance, Restructuring, and Bankruptcy Practice Group. Heather concentrates in commercial finance, specifically asset-based and cash-flow financing for various industry sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, and other service industries. She represents national banks, commercial finance companies, mezzanine lenders and other institutional lenders, as well as private equity firms, hedge funds, and publicly and privately held corporations in commercial loan transactions, in areas including secured transactions and commercial, asset-based, cash-flow, healthcare, real estate, and mortgage warehouse financing.
In addition, Heather is an active member of the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section and currently serves in the programs subcommittee of the Commercial Finance Association Committee and the Back to Basics Law Committee, and a director to the membership committee of the Commercial Finance Committee. Heather also has organized networking events for women in the finance industry in the Mid-Atlantic area, and accepted a position on the Go Red for Women Initiative Executive Leadership Committee in Philadelphia in 2014 and 2015. She was named among the Commercial Finance Association’s 2016 "40 Under 40 Awards." Heather earned a bachelor of arts degree from Rider University and a juris doctor degree from Temple University Beasley School of Law.
How do you balance work/personal time?
Work/life balance is a real struggle… for most people I think. Whether you are a single Millennial, married or single with children or taking care of an elderly family member later in your career, achieving something that resembles "balance" is something you have to work at and plan for every day. As crazy as this may sound, I fit more "personal" time into the work/personal equation only after I had children. As a young bride and newbie associate, I joked that I was casually dating my husband. While he and I would have loved to have had dinner together at a normal hour, I knew he wouldn’t starve if I stayed a little later at the office to get just one more thing done. Then my world changed with the birth of our son in 2009 and there was someone in this world who needed me to meet his basic everyday needs.
My perspective on what had to get done immediately and what could wait a few hours changed dramatically, if for no other reason than because it had to. I was a sixth year associate when I had my son, working in a service business with very sophisticated and demanding clients involved in very complicated transactions so I was panicked at the idea of realistically achieving any kind of balance. I am not a person who needs a ton of sleep to function so I knew I could gain a few hours in the early morning and later at night, but I also commuted more than an hour each way to the office. I began discussing an alternative work arrangement where I would remain full-time, but work from my home office two days a week to avoid my long commute. At that time, I believe I was only the second woman in our group to request such an arrangement and no one had ever requested to work two days remotely. Other, more senior, associates in the office warned me, "Don’t ask for that!", fearing the mere request reflected some lack of commitment. I had worked very hard to earn respect among my colleagues up to that point in my career and really enjoyed the work that I did, so I made the request anyway. To the firm’s credit, no one even batted an eye at my request. To the contrary, the firm provided me with the technology to help make the transition seamless. Of course, there were some bumps in the road, but maintaining open communication with my practice group leader, colleagues and my spouse was critical to making the arrangement work.
Once I had my work arrangement settled and I was in a groove (and we had a second and third child), I realized my balance consisted of work and kids, so it was time to work some other personal things into the equation. We hired a standing sitter for a regularly scheduled date night and my husband and I do our best not to cancel. I eat lunch at my desk and hit the gym instead, and, if I am really busy, I skip the treadmill and work out on the recumbent bike so I can do work at the same time (you folks who can run on a treadmill and read a document baffle me!). While I don’t pretend that I have great work/life balance, with the support of my colleagues, the firm, my spouse, friends and technology, I do have something that resembles organized chaos.