Some would argue that McKinsey, Bain and BCG are home to some of the smartest people on this planet. To even be considered by one of these firms you must prove you excel in all parts of your life. More and more we are seeing internal group strategy functions hire these ex-strategy consultants, thus becoming incubators for the future leaders of some of the world’s leading companies.
But being smart and having a top tier pedigree does not automatically give you a free ticket to the top. Ex strategy consultants often have a hard time obtaining a role that will allow them to prove they are more than just an advisor in an expensive suit who can design an amazing slide pack. They frequently get serious push back when vying for a role with a P&L mandate (as their consulting days will have provided zero experience managing this aspect), or one that manages a large team (as they are deemed to have only run project teams previously). So getting to the top is not quite as easy as some may think. Gravitas certainly helps, and this comes naturally to many senior leaders in consulting firms - after all, these are the people who have become the rainmakers, the front men & women and the faces of the firm.
It seems that McKinsey is the company that produces the most CEOs of Fortune 500 firms according to an article on Forbes, but it is interesting to note that only one in six new hires at McKinsey actually stays with the firm for more than 5 years.
So who are the most distinguished alumni of McKinsey, BCG and Bain? The list below is not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination but I think some of the names may surprise you.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook and founder of Leanin.org
Wolfgang Bernhard, Former CEO of Mercedes-AMG, Volkswagen AG and former Chairman of Daimler
Helmut Panke, Former Chairman & CEO of BMW
Bob Haas, Chairman of Levi Strauss & Co
Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone
Ian Narev, CEO of CBA
James McNerney, Former Chairman, President and CEO of Boeing
Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former U.S President Bill Clinton
Brian Salsberg, Senior Vice President, Global Strategy at AVON
Jeff Skilling, Ex Enron CEO (now of somewhat lesser repute)
John Legend, Grammy award winning musician
Bill Bain, Founder of Bain & Co
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel
Roland Berger, Founder of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants
Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi
Bob Kagle, Director of eBay and Partner at Benchmark
Ahmed Fahour, Former CEO of Australia Post and of the Australian operations of the National Australia Bank
Alex Michel, Star of The Bachelor, Season One in the US
Jeff Immelt, Chairman of the board of the U.S. based conglomerate General Electric
Andrea Orcel, Head of Origination at Merrill Lynch
Greg Brenneman, Former CEO of PwC and Burger King and now Chairman of CCMP Capital
Mitt Romney, Former CEO of Bain & Co, Founder of Bain Capital and 70th Governor of Massachusetts
Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard and former CEO of eBay
John Donahoe, Former CEO of eBay
Jane Mendillo, Former President & CEO of Harvard Management Company
Kevin Rollins, Former CEO of Dell Inc
Michael Murphy, Former Olympic Diver
Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO of Jetstar
Bernie Brookes, Former CEO of Myer and CEO at Edcon
Scott Cook, Co-Founder of Intuit
So, who have I missed?