Fresh out of university, Michelle Repko recalls feeling like a “Texas girl in the big city” working on her first client engagement for AlixPartners in New York City. The project was Refco, a financial services firm and the fourth-largest bankruptcy filing in American history at that time. The case would inform the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and apply to much of the work she did down the line.

“I found my place in the bigger picture of it to be really fascinating,” says Michelle, now Strategic Finance Director. Her 18-year career with AlixPartners has encompassed turnaround and restructuring, bankruptcy, and risk advisory projects, and has taken her from client services to business development as she moved through different phases of life.

She first interviewed with AlixPartners at a university job fair, finding in conversations with other organizations that she couldn't “envision being able to operate in the dynamic” as a woman. AlixPartners was different and seemed collegial; a place where she could thrive.

A decade later, Michelle found that heavy travel didn’t mesh well with new parenthood. She knew she ultimately didn’t want to make that kind of schedule work, but found a different way to keep fueling her career while enjoying her family. “Even if you're sure about the trade-offs, it's hard to give up that career-first mindset,” explains Michelle.

She was asked to work on the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities case, which allowed her to remain close to her family while working on a team to recover and distribute $17.5 billion in estimates assets lost by Madoff investors.

Having moved to California, her next role was as lead on the Gymboree bankruptcy case—the first time she was the primary contact for the client and the top brass on a large team.

That work brought her close to Gymboree executive Jessica Ross, who is now chief financial officer at Frontdoor. “She had two kids and she was whip smart and she had a huge team reporting to her,” says Michelle. “I remember thinking, wow, she’s really running the show here.”

At the conclusion of this project, Michelle found she was looking for a change from client-facing consulting work and elected to take advantage of AlixPartners’ sabbatical program, which provides a three-month break for senior employees at the firm.

The pandemic limited her options for traveling the world, but she dedicated herself to exploring hikes close to San Francisco and documenting them on Instagram, while allowing herself to
reflect on what she wanted her next chapter to look like.

Michelle worked on a Quick Strike business-development project upon return at the encouraging of a colleague at the time. The exposure and connections she made on that project ultimately led to an offer from the Strategic Finance team. Although Michelle wasn’t initially convinced that she was the right fit, her colleagues were confident she would be successful in the new role.

They were right. “I realized after I got into the role, it was less about being technical on the finance side, and more about having executive presence and being able to work through strategic problems, being able to manage and develop a team,” says Michelle, “and I had been building those skills throughout the 16 prior years I had been at the firm. I was still at AlixPartners, but it felt like a whole new job.”

Michelle is committed to paying the investment forward. She is dedicated to developing and supporting the other women on the Strategic Finance team, she has a mentee in corporate services as well as a buddy through AlixPartners’ New Parents’ Buddy program, and is a member of several employee resource groups (ERGs), including Women’s Empowerment Matters (WEM) and Caregivers and Parents (CAPE).

“The real magic happens in the deeper one-on-one relationships, which the ERGs and communities facilitate,” she says.

Even with a diverse and successful corporate career under her belt, it’s taken Michelle time to realize how much she has to offer to those who come behind her, advising others to acknowledge and celebrate their worth in real time.

“While it’s sometimes hard for women to give themselves credit for the things they've done well and what they're capable of, that’s less of a challenge when you’re a part of a team that values, recognizes and encourages achievement.”

Life at AlixPartnersExplore roles on Michelle's team