Anthony Holmes

Updated at: July 7, 2009, 2:37 a.m.

Anthony Holmes dispenses his own prescriptions for business success. As one of Heidrick & Struggles’ top turnaround managers, Holmes revives companies that are under-performing, in distress, or bleeding cash. Just who is this company doctor? And why do CEOs and Boards value his advice? The dapper, 50-year-old troubleshooter is no ordinary doctor. He has a long list of business successes to his name, from recharging a Texas utility group to untangling a British textile manufacturer. In total, Holmes has saved 9 companies in 10 years.

More than an international restructuring specialist, he is also a dynamic speaker and prolific author. His business career spans three decades, but his work as a turnaround expert began after twenty years of successfully translating action plans into operational reality. His ability to combine sophisticated financing methods with savvy deal making and business integration skills served him well in the corporate environment. It serves his clients even better.

Whether their symptoms indicate belt-tightening, streamlining or redirecting their energies, he is known for his ability to manage change. Holmes says that change is usually under-managed, because people up and down the chain of command are too reactive, or too closely tied to old habits. Holmes says the first board meeting of a new assignment is always a tense affair. Not just for him, but for the team he has been recruited to lead. On one occasion, the established script was for each board member to read aloud the report he had prepared and circulated in advance. Even though everyone present had already seen the reports, each executive still insisted on “taking it from the top, one step at a time.”

Like many interim executives, his first experience with turnaround work came as a permanent executive for a large firm. In the early 1980s, at Dee Corporation, he built a substantial supermarket business very quickly by acquiring, integrating and re-structuring the firm’s retailing assets. Having gained a taste for rescue operations in the process, he shifted to turnaround work fulltime, and went on to establish his remarkable track record. Holmes says that he gravitated to company doctoring because turnaround work offered the greatest test of his abilities.

Holmes has worked in several industries including energy, telecommunications, confectionary, food, textile, construction, and retail. Interestingly, he does not work in the same market segment twice. According to Holmes, conventional candidates are often an impediment to the evolution of an industry because they suffer from preconceptions. Interim leaders offer the fresh perspective needed to make the proper diagnosis.

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