We had been chasing Deborah Ginsberg for an interview. Then, before the last gasp of summer, Sidley was fortunate to nab some quality phone time with her. Fresh off an intensive six-month stretch of completing an initial public offering for her business unit that kept her elusive, Ginsberg, a managing director at TPG RE Finance Trust, Inc. (NYSE: TRTX), a business unit of alternative asset firm TPG, said she was ready to escape to the summer house she rents in East Hampton, New York for the beach and some tennis.
Before doing so, however, we asked her to talk shop. Reflecting on the IPO project, one of the meatiest she has thus far worked on at TRTX, Ginsberg, a real estate associate from 2002 to 2006 in Sidley’s New York office, says the greatest challenge wasn’t legal, but rather, managing the diverse group of stakeholders involved in the process. “It encompassed being the liaison between the many constituents—the private investors who had invested in the business and addressing their concerns and needs combined with working with the regulatory agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
“There’s an authentic and pronounced focus on building great businesses,” says Ginsberg of TPG, which she joined in 2016, several months after the firm had entered the real estate debt business. Then-newly minted CEO Greta Guggenheim was a longtime business colleague and old friend of Ginsberg’s and was looking to hire someone to lead the legal team for TRTX. “She and I got to talking and I was excited about the opportunity to help build the business, particularly since it was in the real estate debt space.”
While Ginsberg considered her employer at the time, The Blackstone Group, “an extraordinary organization,” she was drawn to the entrepreneurial aspect of the role at TRTX and decided to take the leap. “It was the opportunity to help shape the future, to take a well seated platform and really grow it.”
Nowadays, Ginsberg is gratified by the multifaceted aspect of her work, which encompasses everything from structuring transactions on the front end and helping to close them, to managing the transactions on the company’s balance sheet and helping to exit them. The corporate end is no less challenging: After helping spearhead the aforementioned rather formidable IPO, together with TRTX’s chief financial officer, her day-to-day responsibilities now include managing the corporate aspects of a publicly traded NYSE company.
“By education and training I am a real estate lawyer,” says Ginsberg. “So it has been really interesting to manage the corporate and strategy sides. I really enjoy the ability to impact and engage in so many aspects of our business.”
As it turns out, her time as a real estate associate at Sidley ultimately afforded Ginsberg a valuable connection in her current position. She recalls learning last January that TPG had hired a new general counsel in its San Francisco office. When Ginsberg heard that the person filling the role was none other than Bradford Berenson, a former partner in Sidley’s Washington office, she immediately called Sidley partner Alan Weil, a real estate lawyer she worked alongside in New York, and with whom she has remained very close.
“I said, ‘Alan, do you think you could facilitate an introduction for me before Brad starts, just so I can get on the right foot?’” Alan arranged for Ginsberg to meet with Berenson just as he was starting his new position. Their connection was immediate and friendly. “The firm put us in touch and it is a wonderful example of how the network continues,” says Ginsberg, noting that Sidley’s culture of collegiality can extend far beyond a lawyer’s tenure with the firm.
“I spent four years at Sidley but, truth be told, it still feels like a home to me,” she said. “It feels like family, even though I’ve been gone more than a decade.”
Published September 2017
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