Working in Canary Wharf as an equities trader for an investment bank, Tendai Sibanda wanted more variety. Looking up the chain, he didn’t see much opportunity to broaden his skills. A recruiter recommended AlixPartners and so he took the assessment and interviewed with Robert Butler, formerly a Senior Vice President with the firm. It was the beginning of a long relationship. 

Tendai asked Robert to serve as best man at his wedding, and recently repaid the honor, standing as best man for Robert. Ten years on, Tendai has risen from consultant to director. In 2023, he was recognized with a Founder’s Award, which recognizes those that have made an enduring contribution to the perpetuation of our firm. 

What’s the secret to his rapid success?

“Delivering results is what propels your career, but you don't do that in a vacuum,” says Tendai.  “Along the way, I've had fantastic support and sponsorship within the firm to help get those results.” He credits a strong, smart team and inclusive culture for the way his career flourished.

“The very first person who interviewed me at AlixPartners (Robert) was one of our Black consultants,” recalls Tendai, who led the firm’s Black Professionals Network employee resource group for a couple of years, “so I had a very positive feeling about the business, and I signed on the dotted line.”

Tendai found his skillset honed working for a large bank translated well to AlixPartners’ Risk practice, explaining, “I can speak the language, I understood how banks work, and that's the natural knowledge transfer there.”

His first project was the firm’s largest at the time, managing debt recovery for a distressed bank; work that he says was highly impactful. “[The debt crisis] had happened on such a scale over such a long time that some of the payments were life-changing. For someone getting several hundred thousand pounds of redress with the interest added on top, you knew that would be a life-changing amount.” Not for nothing, he was rapidly promoted on the project to Program Change Manager and Development Lead.

From there, he moved into the Private Equity (PE) practice, where his results have again shot beyond the realm of expectations. On a PE engagement in 2023, he showed how to preserve and expand margin by 20%, winning a tender from the CEO on the proviso that Tendai lead the project. 

He now finds himself involved in recruiting at the MBA level, doing campus tours and looking for talent at all levels from consultant through director. 

“I do this job for three primary reasons,” says Tendai. “One is connecting with our clients on an emotional level. I think becoming a trusted advisor is the dream on a given project, having a stakeholder on the client side who trusts you to help solve problems. Two, it’s the team, working on a project with talented colleagues.” 

The last piece is to find ways to push forward into new terrain. “The ability to solve problems, think about complex situations, and extrapolate possible solutions has been helpful in terms of delivering outsized results for the client,” he says. It has also driven the evolution of the firm.

“We have managed to balance growing and maturing but retaining our entrepreneurial side and continuing to hire really great people.”

The connections that underpin that work are built on and off the job, he explains. As co-lead of BPN, he hosted an event for industry counterparts and a private screening of Black Panther, finding each had a huge payoff in strategic alliances. “At that time there hadn't been a large-scale Black superhero movie and there was a great turnout, great impact and it was an event talked about to today by the attendees both internally and externally.”

Done right, those moves and connections push the company forward and propel your career. Eventually, “you're no longer one of the team members, but maybe leader of the team,” says Tendai. “You continue to build that team and that's how you build a practice.”

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