Deborah Hicks Midanek is an effective champion of constructive change. She combines entrepreneurial energy and fiduciary wisdom in a career that spans the roles of corporate director, turnaround executive, speaker, author, and publisher.
Alexandra Lajoux, Chief Knowledge Officer, National Association of Corporate Directors
"Her ability to immerse herself, quickly grasp the problems to be solved, puzzle out the solutions and implement them effectively are her core attributes"
I am grateful for the opportunity to recommend Deborah Hicks Midanek, primarily in her capacity as CEO and Founder of Solon Group, Inc, butgiven the depth and breadth of her professional experience, in the context of a professional of “Renaissance Woman” dimensions, and thus I address here a broader audience.
Deborah is counted among the members of the elite tier of turnaround and restructuring professionals, a perch earned over the course of an illustrious career characterized by excellent results on behalf of grateful clients involving assignments most noteworthy for the challenges posed by complex capital structures, liquidity constraints, competitive disadvantages, governance disarray and operational weaknesses. Her ability to immerse herself in such situations, quickly grasp the problems to be solved, puzzle out the solutions, and implement them effectively and efficiently are the core attributes that define Deborah’s expertise and professionalism.
Marc Abrams , Co-Chair, Business Reorganization & Restructuring, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Deborah is simply the wisest business strategist I have had the pleasure to work with. In any situation she “gets it” immediately and is always several steps ahead of the rest of the room. She is also an excellent writer, speaker and presenter. Deborah can turn your business around, tell you how to make money in China, and give an engaging talk at your next conference. I could not recommend her more highly!
Mark Silber, Executive Creative Director and Chief Brand Strategist, Joule
Deborah is blessed with an extremely powerful intellect and good leadership assets. Truly impressive.
Gary Ward, Managing Director, MWA Group
Deborah’s unflinching support for the development of Glass’s European team was pivotal in the development of its international capabilities and reputation. Through her direction and encouragement Glass Europe became a leader in trans Atlantic and pan European cross border restructuring. The addition of this international capability greatly increased the value of the Glass brand.
Alan Tilley, Director, Turnaround Management Association, Europe & Executive Director, European Association of Turnaround Professionals
Deborah is a smart, hard working, problem solver. She never gives up. She will push forward even in the most difficult situations with a smile on her face. She can get people in business to do the right thing, even of the people don’t want to speak to each other. She is a welcome addition to any team. She plays the role she is given, but if asked to lead will step up to the job.
Wendy De Monchaux, Senior Vice President, Drexel Burnham Lambert
Deborah’s entrance at Standard Brands resembled that of a ‘lightning rod’. She immediately projected an approachable command presence.She demonstrated an intellectual curiosity that allowed her to quickly assimilate the strengths and opportunities of a fractured organization and quickly “fix the bicycle, while she was riding it”. She was a resolute in seeking and acting on the ‘best possible’ outcomes at each stage of our transition and ultimate sale. She worked alongside us tirelessly in our efforts and shattered my image of a stodgy boardroom driven approach and demonstrated a streamlined, speed of a cheetah, type action while allowing all voices to be heard and ideas debated.
Working for Deborah was a pivotal moment in my career and I’m forever grateful to her for the mentorship and personal touch with which she guided us all.Robert Campbell Jr., Sr. District Manager/Director of Sales, Standard Brands Paint & Home Decorating Centers
“It’s her ability to always keep her eye on what the parties want to achieve that, with her leadership and diplomacy skills, set her apart”
Deborah is a powerful, innovative and compassionate individual and problem solver. Yes, her knowledge and experience in complex financial and corporate turnaround matters is top-notch. But it is her ability to always keep her eye on what the parties want to achieve and her wisdom, leadership and diplomacy skills that set her apart the most
Karen Ostad, Ostad LLC
Your wonderful plane idea is one example of your enormous willingness to help. That spirit is contagious and will make an enormous difference in the outcome. I loved watching you in action. Wish I could have more such opportunities. I would recommend you to work out any problem or situation that needs working out.
I will recommend you far and wide. You have no idea how deeply I respect the combination of your brain, your heart, your sincerity and your emotional intelligence. I have never seen such an effective combination before.
Jacob J. Worenklein, Co Chair, Global Project Finance, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Deborah easily forms constructive working relationships and collaborates with other team members, whilst always encouraging an independent attitude in each member. She creates a comfortable environment in which each team member is able to perform at their highest standards. She is a natural leader that brings out the best in those around her and knows how to draw on each team member’s strengths. She clearly values and nurtures relationships and personally participates in the development of future leaders in the industry.
Marianne Rajic, Head, Investment Funds, Walkers Global (BVI), British Virgin Islands
From Fellow Directors
Deborah is one of our most trusted advisors. She is a brilliant and creative financier with a deep understanding of the people side of business – a rare and valuable combination of skills.
Steve Miller, Principal, Family Business Consulting Group
Deborah has a truly unique capacity for recognizing opportunities where others do not see them. This important trait and her unmatched enthusiasm make people suspend disbelief and work hard towards goals that many times appear far away, but that are quickly attained through the guidance and encouragement of Deborah. In less that six months in 2012, Deborah organized and mobilized a grassroots movement to support early childhood education in Grenada, Mississippi. Over 60 people are currently engaged and working to improve education and quality of life in Grenada, and Deborah has played a key role in providing the path and encouragement that has excited these valuable volunteers. Deborah is a rare asset for any organization.
Pablo Diaz, Executive Director, Grenada County Economic Development District
I first met Deborah while serving as non-executive chairman of Mississippi Chemical Coporation, where we selected her to serve as advisor to the board and Chief Restructuring Officer. At the very successful conclusion of the assignment, she was named a director of a spinoff company, having assisted in the sale of other corporate assets.
While this is not particularly unusual, the board she assembled was comprised of people who had formerly been adversaries, including the chairman of the prior board (me) and the chairman of the creditor’s committee in the bankruptcy. The group, thanks in no small part to her ability keep all parties focused on common gorund, functioned smoothly, with strong communications fron the outset.
Over the years since then I have followed Deborah’s work and have continued to be impressed with her ability to build reasoned consensus in complex situations. Given her breadth of experience, she will often see solutions to issues quickly, yet instead of instantly revealing her view of the best possible path she will spend days of even weeks coaching other directors until they believe the solution was their own idea. She instills self-respect and builds confidence in everyone she works with. I would go so far as to call it a genius for consensus building.Coley L. Bailey, Chairman, Mississippi Chemical Corporation and Managing Partner, Bailey & Sons
In summary I believe that Deborah’s extraordinary history as a director is built on a deep foundation of integrity, tenacity, dedication, clear and unwavering commitment to maximizing financial outcomes, and a consistent respect for all participants in the process. Her accomplishments along the way, quite simply, speak for themselves.
Sarah Smith, Chief Accounting Officer, Goldman Sachs
Deborah is the rarefied combination of applied intelligence, compassion and resolve. In every case in which I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with Deborah, her efforts have allowed stakeholders to rapidly crystalize the most pressing issues, address them and return to growth rapidly.
Michael B. Laskoff, Founder, AbilTo LLC
“Without that board she negotiated, I have no doubt that we would have faced a Trustee appointment.”
I know Deborah first-hand through our shared experiences in the Drexel Burnham Chapter 11 case in which I was personally and deeply involved. Deborah was elected chairman of the Equity Committee and negotiated with the incumbent Drexel board to restructure itself to favor independent directors. She recruited two outstanding members and ultimately became the consensus candidate herself. I simply assisted in the work of the new independent board in a highly contentious situation. Without that board, I have no doubt that we would have faced a Trustee appointment.
I know that this experience, which was an exaggerated run in a most difficult situation, served her in good stead in the years to come.
Ira M. Millstein, Senior Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and Co-Chairman, Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership, Columbia Law School
I am writing to commend to you my friend and colleague, Deborah Hicks Midanek. In the four years that I have served on the Board of the Grenada Community Foundation with Deborah, I have found her to be at the same time dynamic, wise and inspiring. Her personality and demeanor exude a warm confidence that is matched by her wit and intellect.
As the chairman, Deborah has pursued the goals and efforts of the Grenada Community Foundation with a tenacity that is tempered by common sense, honesty, and a genuine respect for the humanness of those around her. It would have been easy for the corporate big shot to walk in to little Grenada, Mississipi and tell us exactly what changes and improvements were necessary. It would have been especially easy for a turn around manager as astute as Deborah. Instead of dictating a plan, Deborah suggested strategic and logistical tactics to improve our community, now her community, for the better. She listened patiently to the ideas, concerns, hopes, and fears of others. She saw the potential in our little spot of the world and encouraged all of the rest of us to think bigger. Her relentlessness and ability to motivate and organize others truly fueled the creation of the Grenada Community Foundation and has kept the engines running since.Sabrina D. Howell, Attorney at Law
I have known Deborah for six years. I became acquainted with her when she served as an active, indeed leading member of the Board of Trustees at Warren Wilson College, the institution for which I serve as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. Deborah served the Board tirelessly, taking on important work, even the most challenging work, because it needed to be done in order for the school to flourish. I was impressed in my earliest meetings with Deborah’s tenacity and her willingness to approach difficult conversations.
Deborah’s most important work, in my opinion, was to improve the board recruitment process, recruiting new members to the board and setting up the President’s ability to continue to develop relationships with strong trustee candidates. Prior to Deborah’s work in this area, the board had been more social and less serious. The change was imperative for the College’s success, and Deborah was critical to this transition.
Deborah also oversaw revisions of the bylaws and development of committee charters and term limits, to distribute the work of the board and to allow for greater focus in meeting on long-term viability and strategy. The Board still benefits greatly from Deborah’s vision for how such boards can run effectively.Paula K. Garrett, Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of the College, Warren Wilson College
Deborah is always well prepared for board meetings and brings remarkable insights to business problems gleaned from years of working in high-stakes, high-conflict situations. She is practical and focused on achieving the best outcomes for all stakeholders. Her skills and energy have been invaluable to CED’s board, which initiated a leadership change and a refocusing of strategy coincident with our joining the Executive Committee. She has recruited a number of new trustees to the organization, worked diligently to support fund-raising , identified a replacement for the critical Director of Development role and contributed to CED research, especially on the early childhood and women’s economic empowerment.
Debra Perry, Independent Director, Korn Ferry International & Executive Committee Member, Committee for Economic Development
Deborah Midanek selflessly provides her time and expertise to non-profit organizations and difficult turnaround corporate situations. She has a high sense of obligation and demonstrates a keen sense of urgency in her leadership roles. She is very direct, demonstrating candor and openness to all views. her vast business experience is much appreciated and her suggestions are constructive and collaborative. Her broad number of experiences makes her valuable in almost any board situation.
Steve Odland, President & CEO, Committee for Economic Development
I truly enjoyed working with Deborah. Her energy and positive outlook are infectious. She is a motivational team leader; there is no goal we can’t achieve with a little hard work! Deb is also extremely adept at balancing others’ priorities and personalities in order to achieve a common goal. Her expertise and successful track record in building profitable relationships benefited us greatly, as did her deep experience in the many facets of the restructuring sector. We trusted her and valued her opinion as a board member.
Amanda Sturdevant, Larger Pond Communications