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2019 Top 10 30-Something: Alana C. St. Aude

Top Ten 30 Somethings

Photo: Alana C. St. Aude with her Top 10 30-Something award at ACC's 2019 Corporate Counsel University.

When Alana C. St. Aude was looking to move in-house, she sought a role that would leverage her financial knowledge. At Capital One, one of the top 10 largest banks in the United States, St. Aude’s experience with direct lending, credit, and investment funds has been a benefit to the business.

Alana St. AudeAs director and assistant general counsel at Capital One, one of St. Aude’s main responsibilities is overseeing the review process for the bank’s syndicated, club, or participation loans. A participation loan is made by multiple lenders to a single borrower — often a corporation.

The multiple lenders are broken down into a “lead bank,” which originates the loan and deals directly with the borrower and “participants,” which share the risks and profits. By syndicating a loan that is too large for a single lender, the risk and profits are spread out, decreasing the level of impact to the lenders if the borrower defaults.

Capital One is sometimes a participant in these types of loans, whose agreements can have any number of lenders involved — sometimes more than a hundred. Reviewing these contracts can be difficult in a short amount of time. There is not much control over the terms from a participant stance, St. Aude explains, and there is sensitivity to comments for competitive reasons. She identified the need for a process improvement document: a checklist that identified points for counsel to verify during their review.

St. Aude solicited sample issues and checklists from law firms and arranged forums between the business and legal teams to draft a comprehensive checklist. After multiple discussions and versions with internal constituents, she developed not only a participation checklist that identified escalation points for more in-depth scrutiny, but also a basket calculator. This tool tabulates the debt, liens, and leakage of the agreement to ensure that the bank is not taking on too much risk in the deal.

The checklist and calculator have resulted in time savings for the bank, with both internal and external counsel. St. Aude trains outside counsel with this toolkit so that they know what issues are most important to Capital One — allowing them to use their time to thoroughly review key items and reduce costs for the bank.

In addition to process improvements, St. Aude seeks to educate and train her colleagues on the potential impact certain terms can have on Capital One as a lender, and the best way to negotiate these provisions when they arise. For similar reasons, she’s continually checking on the development of global regulations in the technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) sectors.

The bank’s loans to TMT industries often involve other countries, as several US companies maintain subsidiaries in Ireland, Canada, United Kingdom, and Israel for tax and investment reasons. In order to advise on the bank’s foreign lending approval process, she stays abreast of international developments in data privacy and cybersecurity.

St. Aude also contributes to the bank’s culture — serving on the Capital One legal department diversity and inclusion committee, as well as various legal and business team engagement committees. In fact, she was recently recognized as a Capital One Woman Who Rocks for being an effective corporate citizen.

She has also taken up diversity and inclusion outside of work. In 2017, St. Aude co-founded the Advancement Initiative, a community group serving women-of-color lawyers at the mid-level of their careers at law firms or in-house in the New York/New Jersey metro area. The initiative offers its membership a forum for advancement techniques, networking, and relationship building. Additionally, she is the co-chair of the Corporate Law Section of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association.

Whether advancing efficiency or diversity, St. Aude is always innovating and adding value to the business and larger in-house community.

More 2019 Top 10 30-Somethings

Fernanda Beraldi

Brian Buckham

Thomas Cluderay

Lewis Dolezal

April A. Goff

Sadeq M. Kahn

William K. Piotrowski

Melissa Reiter

Erin K. Stewart

About the Author

Danielle Maldonado is the assistant editor of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

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