Everywhere she looks, Marty Traudt Rolle sees formulas.
As partner at an international law firm in London, Rolle finds her mathematics degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln gives her an advantage in negotiations.
"One of my associates said when I'm negotiating deals that I tend to turn things into formulas. If someone is making payments, or we are creating a profit sharing, or in using financial terms, it's obvious to me that the situation lends itself to a formula," Rolle said. "I get a bit of a negotiating edge because the other lawyers see the formulas and they say, 'Yes, that looks right,' but they don't always run the numbers to see if it actually works the way they expected. We do run the numbers."
Rolle, a 1974 alumna of UNL, went on to law school at the University of Colorado in Boulder and now, as a banking lawyer at Bryan Cave, represents lenders and borrowers in cross-border transactions and loans that have exceeded $15 billion in the aggregate. These loans are secured by a variety of collateral in more than 20 countries.
With more than 30 years of experience in complex financings, including project financings, asset-backed securitizations, repos, synthetic leases, cross-border financings, energy projects and vendor financings, she has advised clients in a broad range of industries, including sports and entertainment, film and media, oil and gas, mining, energy, real estate, railroad and telecommunications industries.
"Almost everything we do at Bryan Cave in London is cross-border. I do transactions involving three, four, five different countries, and I'm trying to make each piece fit together and dealing with each country's laws. Sometimes things have to be done in a certain order, and you have to have done all of these things in advance to get all of the pieces to come together. It's like a big puzzle, and I have to make sure I ask all of the right questions to make sure I can identify the problems. It's never boring," Rolle said.
Her mathematics background has served her well in her law career.
"It actually crops up in multiple ways, both in the way you approach the problem and sitting down with complex materials and working through them in an organized, logical fashion," Rolle said. "One of my law professors from Colorado said that he thought students with a mathematical background did disproportionately well at law school because of their logical minds."
Rolle was one of the few female math majors at UNL in the early 1970s, but she said the environment was "not intimidating." Rolle was a Nebraska Career Scholar in Mathematics, which recognized undergraduate mathematics students who had the potential to go on to graduate school.
"I have very fond memories of being an undergraduate at Nebraska. Being a math major made me feel special. I felt I was working to achieve something," Rolle said.
She was friends with fellow Career Scholar Joe Mahaffy, now a professor of mathematics at San Diego State University, whom she originally met at Lincoln Southeast High School.
"She was a very cheerful person, bringing lots of energy to the Career Scholar office on the ninth floor of Oldfather Hall. Oldfather provided us with a friendly place to meet and work, with excellent contact with other faculty. I know we both felt the respect of the faculty helped us mature to our goals that have brought us to where we are today. Sylvia Wiegand provided a good role model for her," Mahaffy said.
Before making the move to London 12 years ago, Rolle lived in Denver for 20 years and was a partner at Holme Roberts and Owen. When the firm had an opening in London, Rolle volunteered to relocate. In 2002 while with Holme Roberts and Owen, Rolle was the United Kingdom lead for the negotiations by the Anschutz Entertainment Group in the $500 million multi-currency construction financing for the take over of The O2 Arena in London (formerly the Millennium Dome).
"It was fascinating to see how the government works over here," Rolle said. "They were threatening that if we didn't close the deal by a certain date in May, they would cancel all of the negotiations - and we closed on the last day possible. Since there wasn't any concert venue in London as sophisticated as the Staples Center in L.A., the local officials had trouble visualizing the type of arena we were describing, so we flew out to the Staples Center to show them what we were talking about. It was very challenging and a lot of work, but very exciting."
Rolle also has represented a corporate counterparty in the Enron bankruptcy that was party to interest rate swaps and power hedges with Enron, as well as a number of corporate counterparties on unwinding foreign exchange transactions in distressed circumstances. Rolle has been providing derivatives advice since the 1980s.
Rolle is a member of the Society of English and American Lawyers and attended the Women and Power: Leadership in a New World Executive Education at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2007. In 2009, she was recognized in The UK Legal 500 for her continued work in derivatives and structured products, and continues to be recognized in the UK Legal 500.
Rolle is married with two sons. Her oldest son is now a structural engineer, while her younger son will graduate from Swarthmore College in May - with a degree in mathematics. She has discovered with him that mathematics is a springboard to many different career paths.
"Math is an excellent background for many things. It takes a lot of discipline, and it's something that you have on your resume for life, showing you are someone who can tackle difficult issues, and you stick with it. It says a lot of things about you to employers," Rolle added. "I was just talking to an executive at a multinational consulting company, and he said they were desperate to hire more math majors."
For Rolle, her love for mathematics and her work have always been about a passion for putting the pieces together.
"Doing math is sort of like putting together a puzzle, and the deals I work on are like that too," Rolle said. "The work at Bryan Cave is exciting, challenging and complex. That's what keeps it interesting after all of these years."
- Lindsay Augustyn, Outreach and Communications, UNL CSMCE