Meet Todd Zoha
Exploring career choices: A conversation with Todd Zoha
What did I learn from my experience co-founding One Exchange Street, an online platform to trade bankruptcy claims, back in 2012? First and foremost, humility. Most of us have been overwhelmingly “successful” in life. Failing, and failing in a very public way, is an incredibly humbling experience.
Second, the importance of time management. I learned how to prioritize while striking the appropriate balance between work and life. As a startup co-founder, it is easy for your business to become your life, which is not healthy. The immersive consulting workstyle—especially during a turnaround—has that same challenge.
Third, the value of an elevator pitch. A short, no-more-than-60 second pitch highlighting the who, what and why of yourself, and your business.
Yes, in the Fall of 2014, I joined Columbus, Ohio-based Stage Capital, as their Chief Financial Officer. They leveraged my restructuring skillset and utilized me like a traditional operating partner, and I served also as CFO for one of their portfolio companies, United Furniture Industries, an upholstery manufacturer and case goods importer.
This was my first time being recruited to a “C” level position. The world puts a lot of pressure on the C-suite, for good reason. I learned quickly that a leader and a boss are completely different. I also learned to evaluate a business through the lens of an investor. Lastly, I learned how important having trusted advisors is to the members of a senior leadership team.
I see these lessons play out daily with our clients. Having been on the “other side” of the table helps me understand the questions to ask, to evaluate the answers in proper context, and to position the AlixPartners team to be a trusted advisor in times of disruption.
For career development, the growth of AlixPartners creates some interesting possibilities. Strong and stable growth here creates opportunities for an out-sized number of internal promotes to Managing Director.
While the firm has grown dramatically from when I first joined in 2008, the values and priorities are still the core of the firm. In one practical manner, there are now numerous opportunities for employees to strengthen the firm in addition to their billable client work. For example, I am an active member of the Chicago local marketing team. I am also extremely active on the recruiting front, particularly in grading candidates’ technical exams. Finally, I am a member of the transportation and logistics industry group. While headcount and revenue have grown dramatically, AlixPartners remains a place wherein my entrepreneurial spirit is welcomed and rewarded.
The best example is that I can easily leverage the expertise of other professionals to become knowledgeable in a new area. Any addition to the firm’s service offerings is an opportunity to offer new ideas to current clients or originate new work with prospective clients. It is also a learning opportunity for all of us to work together.
While my time as an alumnus was energizing, many factors drew me back to AlixPartners. For the avoidance of doubt, both decisions to leave AlixPartners had nothing to do with compensation, quality of work, work/life balance, or career progression. What drew me back to AlixPartners both times were predominantly the same reasons I was drawn to AlixPartners in the first place in 2008.
Here’s what I value most: The opportunity to rejoin what I see as the gold standard team in the restructuring industry; working on challenging and complex assignments during “when it really matters” moments for our clients.