The Boston Consulting Group has yesterday, on the day that founder Bruce Henderson would have turned 100, launched a new research Institute. The so-called Bruce Henderson Institute will be dedicated to developing pioneering new ideas and approaches to solving business challenges.
Bruce Doolin Henderson was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 30, 1915. After graduating from Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Harvard Business School he began his career in 1941 with Westinghouse Corporation. He worked there for 18 years, becoming one of the youngest Vice Presidents in the company’s history. In 1959, Henderson joined Arthur D. Little – regarded by many as the globe’s oldest management consultancy – as Senior Vice President of management services. It was four years later that Henderson was encouraged by the CEO of the Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Company to start a consulting department within the bank. He accepted the offer and started what would eventually become The Boston Consulting Group.
More than 50 years down the line, The Boston Consulting Group has become one of the most influential management consultancies of the globe. The business advisory currently has more than 10,000 employees – a mark passed last year – active in 82 offices across 46 countries and a revenue estimated to be around $4.5 billion. Henderson remained at the top of the firm up to 1980, and under his leadership BCG developed breakthrough concepts, such as the Growth Share Matrix or The Experience Curve, that helped establish the firm’s reputation as a pioneer of business strategy and help clients revolutionise their business and operations. In 1985, Bruce retired from BCG to become chairman emeritus, opting to dedicate his time to a teaching career at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Henderson passed away on July 20, 1992 and at his death, the Financial Times observed: “Few people have had as much impact on international business in the second half of the 20th century.”
In honour of the hundredth anniversary of the firm’s founder*, BCG has launched the ‘Bruce Henderson Institute’, an entity that will seek to develop ideas at the cross-section of strategy and execution. “Bruce was truly a leading pioneer in business strategy and a key figure in the development of today’s management consulting industry,” says Richard Lesser, BCG’s Chief Executive Officer. “Many of his original ideas and concepts for understanding business opportunities and challenges continue to be used by consultants and business leaders around the world. In a period of immense challenges for the global economy, the establishment of the Bruce Henderson Institute exemplifies BCG’s commitment to stay on the cutting edge of ideas and to translate those ideas into meaningful business impact.”
The unit will be headed by Martin Reeves, a senior partner in BCG’s New York office and author of the forthcoming book ‘Your Strategy Needs a Strategy’ (Harvard Business Review Press, June 2015). Judith Wallenstein, a partner in BCG’s Berlin office, will lead the institute’s European efforts while Arindam Bhattacharya, a senior partner in BCG’s New Delhi office, will lead the institute in Asia and emerging markets. “Bruce Henderson challenged us always to raise the bar higher,” comments Reeves. “We hope that by creating a center of excellence for developing new ideas for business, we can honor and sustain Bruce’s original mission when founding BCG: to always bring new insight and value to our clients.”
As part of the Bruce Henderson Institute, BCG has also established a Center for Macroeconomics, tasked with exploring the impact of global macroeconomic developments on business, growth, and innovation. The center will be led by Germany-based partner Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak.
* In a comparable move to recognise the impact of a key former leader, McKinsey & Company earlier this year launched the Bracken Bower Prize, co-named after Marvin Bower, Managing Director of McKinsey from 1950 to 1967, who was instrumental in laying the foundations for the present day success of the consultancy.