WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW HIM: Because he and his firm are helping to groom the next generation of Texas CEOs. Saenz knows a little something about fast-tracking colleagues to the C-suite. During his 15 years at Bain, he has helped former consultants accelerate moves to corner offices—executives like Stephen Garrison, president and CEO of Texas Regional Medical Center, and Greg McKelvey, chief strategy and marketing officer at Fossil.
“One of the most exciting parts of my job is to help people to become leaders,” says Saenz, a native of Costa Rica. “We make sure every individual has diversity of experience, and that they get a well-rounded education on how to identify value.”
As managing partner, Saenz oversees Bain South, a division that includes operations in Dallas, Houston, and Mexico. Since he took the helm five years ago, the division has doubled in size. About two-thirds of Bain South’s work comes from clients in Texas.
Saenz’s trifecta: Recruit the best talent, choose the right projects, and work with change-oriented businesses and civic agencies.
The company was founded in 1973 on the principle that consultants measure their success by their clients’ financial results. It operates 49 offices in 31 countries. The firm does the analytics to help leaders make the best decisions, Saenz says. Along the way, consultants gain valuable problem-solving skills, he adds. “We help them align and motivate; our people get to experience all of that.”
When corporate executives ask Saenz how to deal with economic uncertainty, he offers this advice: Strengthen the core business without adding too many layers of complexity, and stay focused on the customer. “Companies are flush with cash right now and their assets are undervalued,” he says. “They have to have a good balance between taking necessary risk and not taking any action at all.”
Most businesses are sorry to see prized employees leave the flock, but it’s OK with Saenz. “We’re happy when people make the decision to stay, but also delighted when [they have an opportunity to become leaders] someplace else.”