Before Frank Pometti was a Managing Director in AlixPartners’ Turnaround and Restructuring Services Group, he was an intelligence officer in the US Army.

Just two years after he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Frank—then a first lieutenant—was deployed on his first overseas assignment. He was sent to Saudi Arabia to lead a team tasked on establishing a new intelligent support element in the aftermath of the First Gulf War. It was billed as an ideal training and networking opportunity for a junior officer.   

No one could have predicted that the day he landed in Saudi Arabia, two divisions of the Iraqi Republican Guard would start moving towards the Kuwaiti border, changing the tenor of this low-stakes “learning opportunity” to a high-stakes military operation.

Through this experience, Frank learned how to quickly navigate and respond to a developing crisis. He rapidly assessed the situation and confidently presented solutions.

"In my first few days in Saudi Arabia, I gave my briefings to a colonel who at the time oversaw the US forces in the region. As the situation developed through that first week and more senior officers were flown in, that colonel kept being moved further down the table until eventually he was sitting next to the water cooler."- Frank Pometti, Partner & Managing Director, AlixPartners

Just a few days into his new post, he transitioned from briefing his base commander to giving daily intelligence briefings to a three-star general, reflecting not only the escalating nature of the situation, but also Frank’s natural ability to quickly assimilate and manage information flow. 

 “I was obviously nervous because you don’t know what’s going to happen, but it was exciting and a great opportunity,” said Frank. “I was this conduit for information for the commanding officers.”

Frank was tasked with building an intelligence gathering infrastructure ranging from satellite installation to establishing human intelligence sources. He also leveraged resources from within other branches of the military and tapped information sources from allied forces. This was done in the midst of and to help inform immediate strategic planning for an escalating military crisis. 

Adding to the challenge, this was Frank’s first overseas deployment, and he was not an expert on the Middle East. The experience taught him the importance of knowing what he didn’t know, not being afraid to ask questions, and leveraging all the resources available to him.

At the end of the engagement, Frank had earned the respect of his commanding officers, including the general who led the operation and had created an impressive intelligence operation that the Army Forces Central Command would try to replicate back in the US.

This experience also prepared Frank for a successful career in the private sector.

"I was concerned about how much my military experience would translate, but there are so many parallels. It’s just different acronyms and different jargon, but everything I learned about how the military is organized and run is applicable in the business world"- Frank Pometti, Partner & Managing Director, AlixPartners

He left the military and enrolled at Columbia Business School where he first learned about management consulting. Frank gravitated toward crisis management because he had the experience of getting up to speed in a hurry and making urgent decisions. Frank was staffed on several engagements where his clients faced a critical challenge.

“When I get into a company to help them out, I feel like I’m in the trenches with them,” he said.

He was able to leverage this crisis response experience to join restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper, which was acquired by AlixPartners in 2018. At AlixPartners, Frank works closely with clients undergoing restructuring. As he assumes interim restructuring roles within these businesses, he sees many similarities between these engagements and his first overseas deployment.

“I always go back to how I operated in that team environment in a difficult situation in the military,” he said. “My mindset is, I know this is a difficult situation, but we’re going to get this done together and we’re going to do it as efficiently as possible.”

This November, AlixPartners salutes servicemembers across the world by sharing the stories of members of our Military and Uniformed Services Team (MUST) employee resource group and highlighting the unique and valuable perspective they bring to our firm.

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