AlixAlumni Returning Employees

Meet Sonal Odedra

Embracing the human stories behind the numbers helps this finance manager spy opportunity
Read On
Read On

AlixPartners career choice:  Meet returning employee Sonal Odedra

sonal odedra returning alumnus alixalumni event
Sonal Odedra reconnects with fellow AlixPartners alumni and current employees at a Detroit AlixAlumni dinner in 2019.
Thoughts &
Perspectives
Q:
You practice “lifelong learning” and bring a lot of intellectual curiosity to your work as a Strategic Finance Manager. How has that approach helped you shape your career?
A:

There is never an end to learning, and you can grow in so many ways—academic, cultural, professional, social. Growth is not one-directional. There is growth in learning and innovating in your immediate job, of course, but also growth as a team or function. I always look for opportunities on both levels—individual and collaborative. If I was to give any advice, it would be to simply reach out to people who do things that interest you.

Perhaps for me, my curiosity is born of my background in accounting and finance. Numbers are my thing, but more important to me is understanding and sharing the world behind the numbers. The success of the firm, and our opportunities for growth, are revealed in the stories on the spreadsheet.

Also, being around the people of AlixPartners, who are so smart and such experts in their fields, it sort of encourages you to up your game constantly.

Q:
You are a finance person with a bent for human relationships. Do you feel that the two are inseparable?
A:

Relationships are key to success in any career. Here at the firm, we have global team meetings (this year’s was virtual, of course) which is a huge commitment by the firm to bring people together from all over the world and from all our operating groups. I had a wonderful time getting to know colleagues on a personal level, which makes us work better together, and thus we end up with a better outcome on projects. We may even find that we enjoy the journey to that outcome more. While much of my work is analytical, for me to be successful I must focus on relationships just as much as I focus on the numbers. I really work to get to know people at multiple levels.

Q:
You left AlixPartners after two years to be the head of finance for a small business. Did you find that your many experiences and relationships at the firm were solid background?
A:

Absolutely. I was going into a new industry to bring fresh eyes on the financials, and work hand-in-hand with the COO and CEO to improve the operations and profitability, so that certainly required the ability to connect and relate. With an intense undertaking of a turnaround and internal re-org, I was learning a lot as I was executing. Thankfully, I had stayed in touch with some of the managing directors at AlixPartners. Two of them were incredibly supportive mentors to me and helped me get through the re-org and transformation. I even asked their advice about managing the outside consultants that were brought in! When I transitioned out of that role, the whole process was extremely successful, and I was very proud of the achievement of the whole team at the company. It was interesting to be on the other side of the table, albeit in a smaller organization, which gives me perspective on what our clients are going through and what our teams do for our clients.

That experience really validated for me the importance of staying in touch with your network throughout your career. I try to also give back to others, just as my AlixPartners colleagues supported me.

Q:
You are a third-generation Indian woman, born in Kenya. You have lived all over the world. How has your global experience impacted your career?
A:

I feel pretty strongly about diversity, and the global nature of AlixPartners is one thing that drew me back here. I appreciate how inclusion is central to the firm’s values, both in corporate services and client services. Personally, I love to get to know other people and different cultures. Having a deeper understanding of colleagues helps me relate to them, and that understanding is what powers strong collaboration and a sense of shared purpose, which is essential for working in high stakes and highly visible situations.

Q:
How do you recommend people maintain their networks?
A:

I informally stay in touch via social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook or email. I got more involved in professional networking in the past few years—it’s really how you grow. It’s very important to have a network of peers. I also got involved in leadership for the Detroit chapter of the CFO Leadership Council and am a member of the Financial Executives Networking Group. Both of those organizations are phenomenal with the opportunities to connect with and learn from a wide breadth of global talent.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep in touch. It’s not about being transactional, as in going to someone only when you need something. I try to be genuine about the connection and really learn what makes others tick.

Getting involved with the AlixAlumni program was also really helpful. I really valued the professional development opportunities offered to alumni and having access to the broader AlixPartners network is invaluable. Frankly, it was while attending an alumni dinner more than year ago that I knew my heart was with AlixPartners. I’m glad to be back!


Learn more about the AlixAlumni program here. 

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