Todd Walter


Everyone in this industry is passionate about wanting to help people.
People come into our world from all kinds of backgrounds, but it’s probably fair to guess that most People of ISPA stories won’t start off in banking.

Chief Executive, The Red Door by Elizabeth Arden

People come into our world from all kinds of backgrounds, but it’s probably fair to guess that most People of ISPA stories won’t start off in banking. But we’re part of a big tent. More than just a big tent: a tent without walls, without boundaries, and without limits. So not really a tent at all, but you get the idea.

As it happens there is a lot more that links Todd Walter’s banking career to his spa career than might be apparent at first glance. Todd, chief executive at The Red Door (and a wine-collecting ordained minister too), found his way into the spa world via business turnaround consultancy. And what is the spa world all about if it’s not about turning lives around?

“I didn’t intend to join the spa industry. I majored in English at college, but my father was a commercial banker and so I followed him into the industry. After three years I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do in banking so I went back to school and did an MBA. I found a job in the workout group at Chemical Bank, helping medium-sized companies address their problems. It was a great experience in making real, positive, and observable change.”

Back then, Todd’s clients came from all walks of business life. He learned that making positive change wasn’t necessarily about becoming an expert in what the company does, rather being able to recognize where in the company expertise lies. It suited what he jokingly refers to as his “adult ADHD”: coming in, turning around a business in two years or less then leaving for the next challenge.

Just like with most of us, the spa life eventually found Todd. He was consulting for a company that invested in health and wellness businesses, part of a team working to turn around the Naked Juice brand, which was going through some problems. Eventually that company was sold to Pepsi, and he was asked to take an interim role at Red Door.

“I took the assignment partly because it was closer to my East coast home, and I had been commuting to California for two years. I wasn’t seeing much of my young children, and I saw it as almost a low-pressure break before the next challenge came along. Six months later I had fallen in love with the people and the industry, and I didn’t want to leave.”

We’ve all been there, that time and place where the spa life takes over. There’s no going back.

Despite its position among leading spa brands, when Todd started Red Door wasn’t in the best shape. After all, that’s why he was there in the first place. The company was suffering from having expanded too fast and needed some help. “In some ways it was the easiest turn around I had ever been a part of, and as it happened, we were soon looking for a new CEO. Eventually I decided to throw my hat into the ring. That was eleven years ago.”

According to Todd, helping to turn a business around is one of the most rewarding parts of the banking world, a world that is not short on critics. But it doesn’t compare to the reward he gets from seeing spa guests turn their lives around. “We are like nurses and teachers, we are healers and educators. Everyone in this industry is passionate about wanting to help people.”

It doesn’t matter where we started or where we thought our careers would take us. It’s the destination that counts. The spa destination.


Everyone in this industry is passionate about wanting to help people.