The Executives' Club Of Chicago

Member Spotlight: Sharon Oberlander

Sharon Oberlander
To say that Sharon Oberlander, Managing Director and Wealth Management Advisor at Merrill, is a valued member of The Club would bean understatement. Sharon is a long-time member and dear friend to The Club. When asked why she joined, she touts the access to a diverse ecosystem of savvy business professionals, who she finds to be both kind and inspiring. Sharon is a regular attendee at The Club’s programs where she celebrates our thought-provoking content and the opportunity to form meaningful relationships. Sharon is a dynamic member, mentor and ambassador of The Executives’ Club and our mission.
What about your work, company or role makes you most proud?

Helping our clients not only improve their net worth, but raise their "life worth" by achieving their goals and lifelong dreams. It's incredibly rewarding to see our clients use their finances as a springboard to create a meaningful family tradition, pursue a passion in a stimulating second act or find comfort and happiness after sustaining a loss. As a longtime veteran of Merrill I'm also proud to work at an organization that prioritizes giving back. As an example Bank of America recently announced our commitment to $100 million of local community support to fight the impact of COVID-19. We’re focusing on things like critical medical supplies, student hunger, housing and non-profit support. This is on top of $250 million we spend annually on basic needs, workforce development and education in communities we serve.

What is your favorite binge-worthy show or podcast?

My latest favorite on Netflix is "Unorthodox." What starts as a suspenseful story about a young woman escaping the rigidity of the Hasidic community becomes a relatable, universal tale about standing up for yourself and finding your voice. A favorite and worthwhile podcast is HBR's "Women at Work."

What was your first job? What lesson did you learn that you will carry with you?

Before I joined Merrill, I spent eight years in banking. Working in a variety of roles at a bank branch was the perfect place to learn both the fundamentals of financial services and the value of impeccable customer service. I learned that while you may be representing the bank, a brand in itself, you are also cultivating your own personal brand, which must exude empathy, integrity and wisdom when clients are trusting you with their financial life. Remembering this responsibility and privilege is still one of my guiding principles.

Who was the best boss you ever had and why?

David Donaldson, my current boss and Merrill market leader. I admire David for so many reasons: he's a unifying force at the firm who is always thinking about what's best for our clients; he's generous with his time and builds a true partnership with advisors; and he is an incredible father who is quick to share a family TikTok video that brightens all of our days. David knows what's most essential in life and work and his influence has created a culture of high achievement, collaboration and most importantly, balance.

Can you share a time when you had to reinvent yourself, your product/service or your brand?

When my children were growing up, my life was a constant balancing act of being both a high-achiever in my industry and a present and fully engaged mom. Becoming an empty nester, I was confronted with some unexpected time on my hands that prompted me to reexamine my priorities and passions.
I knew giving back would be my focus, and I've combined that with a lifelong love of the arts in my work as a Lyric Opera of Chicago board member and chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's ENACT Committee. I'm especially proud at this time of my involvement in the Digestive Health Foundation, where we raise money to fund research at Northwestern. More than ever, we appreciate the heroes that walk among us in the medical and other fields that have been essential to our daily lives in this difficult environment.

What’s your best “work from home” life hack?

A 6 AM, meditative but brisk, 4-mile walk first thing in the morning. It's an invigorating way to start the day, taking that time for myself to clear my head and sort through the day's priorities. That's followed by a delicious, pour-over coffee for an energized start to the day. I also recommend frequent team calls and happy hours. With all this distance, it's critical to see each other's faces, check in and share the occasional "quarantini" cocktail.

What drew you to Chicago as a business or personal home?

My husband! Believe it or not, we met at The Original Mother's on Division Street while I was in Chicago on a weekend trip with college friends from my hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. He swept me off my feet and I fell in love with the city soon after. It's been my home for so long that many don't catch my fading Canadian accent, and I'm looking forward to new city adventures when we move downtown next year.

Among the people you work with, who inspires you and why?

Our team inspires me. As the Oberlander Timmerwilke Group, we've grown to 14 professionals that I am proud to work with and learn from. We are a diverse group across gender, race, background and tenure, and I continue to see that rare fact as both a competitive advantage and a key source of client satisfaction and retention. Some of us have grown and evolved together for decades, and we've relished the opportunity to grow our practice with ambitious new talent who we can mentor and in turn, teach us something new daily.

Sharon highlighted the important and sometimes difficult balance of being a high achieving professional and present in your personal life, and allowing your priorities and passions to evolve. We would love to hear from you and highlight your achievements and tips in our member spotlight. To be featured or to recommend another member of The Executives’ Club to share the spotlight, please contact our team at programs@executivesclub.org
giving back would be my focus, and I've combined that with a lifelong love of the arts in my work as a Lyric Opera of Chicago board member and chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's ENACT Committee. I'm especially proud at this time of my involvement in the Digestive Health Foundation, where we raise money to fund research at Northwestern. More than ever, we appreciate the heroes that walk among us in the medical and other fields that have been essential to our daily lives in this difficult environment. What’s your best “work from home” life hack?A 6 AM, meditative but brisk, 4-mile walk first thing in the morning. It's an invigorating way to start the day, taking that time for myself to clear my head and sort through the day's priorities. That's followed by a delicious,pour-over coffee for an energized start to the day. I also recommend frequent team calls and happy hours. With all this distance, it's critical to see each other's faces, check in and share the occasional "quarantini" cocktail.What drew you to Chicago as a business or personal home?My husband! Believe it or not, we met at The Original Mother's on Division Street while I was in Chicago on a weekend trip with college friends from my hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. He swept me off my feet and I fell in lovewith the city soon after. It's been my home for so long that many don't catch my fading Canadian accent, and I'm looking forward to new city adventures when we move downtown next year.Among the people you work with, who inspires you and why?Our team inspires me. As the Oberlander Timmerwilke Group, we've grown to 14 professionals that I am proud to work with and learn from. We are a diverse group across gender, race, background and tenure, and I continue to see that rare fact as both a competitive advantage and a key source of client satisfaction and retention. Some of us have grown and evolved together for decades, and we've relished the opportunity to grow our practice with ambitious new talent who we can mentor and in turn, teach us something new daily.Sharon highlighted the important andsometimesdifficult balance of being a high achieving professionaland present in your personal life, and allowing your priorities and passions to evolve. We would love to hear from you and highlight yourachievements and tips in our member spotlight. To be featured or to recommend another member of The Executives’ Club to share the spotlight, please contact our team at programs@executivesclub.org
giving back would be my focus, and I've combined that with a lifelong love of the arts in my work as a Lyric Opera of Chicago board member and chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's ENACT Committee. I'm especially proud at this time of my involvement in the Digestive Health Foundation, where we raise money to fund research at Northwestern. More than ever, we appreciate the heroes that walk among us in the medical and other fields that have been essential to our daily lives in this difficult environment. What’s your best “work from home” life hack?A 6 AM, meditative but brisk, 4-mile walk first thing in the morning. It's an invigorating way to start the day, taking that time for myself to clear my head and sort through the day's priorities. That's followed by a delicious,pour-over coffee for an energized start to the day. I also recommend frequent team calls and happy hours. With all this distance, it's critical to see each other's faces, check in and share the occasional "quarantini" cocktail.What drew you to Chicago as a business or personal home?My husband! Believe it or not, we met at The Original Mother's on Division Street while I was in Chicago on a weekend trip with college friends from my hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. He swept me off my feet and I fell in lovewith the city soon after. It's been my home for so long that many don't catch my fading Canadian accent, and I'm looking forward to new city adventures when we move downtown next year.Among the people you work with, who inspires you and why?Our team inspires me. As the Oberlander Timmerwilke Group, we've grown to 14 professionals that I am proud to work with and learn from. We are a diverse group across gender, race, background and tenure, and I continue to see that rare fact as both a competitive advantage and a key source of client satisfaction and retention. Some of us have grown and evolved together for decades, and we've relished the opportunity to grow our practice with ambitious new talent who we can mentor and in turn, teach us something new daily.Sharon highlighted the important andsometimesdifficult balance of being a high achieving professionaland present in your personal life, and allowing your priorities and passions to evolve. We would love to hear from you and highlight yourachievements and tips in our member spotlight. To be featured or to recommend another member of The Executives’ Club to share the spotlight, please contact our team at programs@executivesclub.org