Consulting Magazine: Top 25 management consultants

13 May 2015

Consulting Magazine has released the 2015 edition of the ‘Top 25 Consultants’, an annual list of the 25 most accomplished and talented advisors in the industry. All recognised consultants work at different consulting firms, with 20 of the of the 25 award winners male.

For consulting firms globally, talent is one of the most important, arguably the key differentiator in the marketplace. In an industry which revolves around the quality of human capital, with the ‘product’ in essence boiling down to the excellence of thinking and execution, it goes without saying that at the end of the line the consultancies with the best talent win.

Top 25 Consultants

To recognise the leaders in the consulting industry – which employs more than 250,000 consultants in the United States alone – US-based Consulting Magazine on an annual basis releases two lists: ‘The 35 most talented young consultants under 35’ – released two months ago – and the ‘Top 25 Consultants’, released yesterday. The latter list contains a “distinguished group” of senior advisors, that have provided an “extraordinary contribution” to the profession, both in their work as well as in their accomplishments, setting them aside from the thousands of other brilliant minds that work with them. Consultants recognised have for instance provided excellent client service (customers were included in the nomination process), launched or stood at the basis of new firms, played a pivotal role in opening new offices or large-scale global expansion, or led the creation of breakthrough thought leadership.

This year more than 400 nominees were taken under scrutiny, leading to an elite group of 25:

- Stefan Larsson, Excellence in Healthcare, Senior Partner, The Boston Consulting Group
- Bill Neuenfeldt, Excellence in Leadership, Partner, Bain & Company
- Alex Liu, Excellence in Client Service, Partner, A.T. Kearney
- David Barrow, Excellence in Healthcare, Managing Director, L.E.K. Consulting
- Basilia Yao, Excellence in Public Sector, Senior Director, Alvarez & Marsal

Stefan Larsson - Bill Neuenfeldt - Alex Liu - David Barrow and Balilia Yao

- Stephen Chase, Excellence in Leadership, Head of Management Consulting US, KPMG
- Ellen Hives, Excellence in Media & Communications, Principal, EY
- Scott McIntyre, Excellence in Public Sector, Principal, PwC
- Derek Bang, Excellence in Healthcare, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Crowe Horwath
- Thomas Mataconis, Excellence in Financial Services, Senior Vice President, Carlisle & Gallagher

Stephen Chase - Ellen Hives - Scott McIntyre - Derek Bang and Thomas Mataconis

- TJ Campbell, Excellence in Client Service, Partner, Capco
- Kimberly Dickerson, Excellence in Financial Services, Managing Director, Protiviti
- Mary Tinebra, Excellence in Client Service, Senior Partner, Mercer
- Steve King, Excellence in Leadership, Head of Southern California, Point B
- Pat Meade, Excellence in Leadership, General Manager Western Region, Slalom Consulting

TJ Cambell - Kimberly Dickerson - Mary Tinebra - Steve King and Pat Meade

- Nathan Brewer, Excellence in Public Sector, Vice President, Sapient
- Mark Finlan, Excellence in Leadership, Managing Director, Censeo Consulting Group
- Todd Hollowell, Excellence in Healthcare, Chief Operating Officer, Impact Advisors
- Tom Hulsebosch, Excellence in Energy, Managing Director, West Monroe Partners
- Pratap Khedkar, Excellence in Leadership, Managing Principal, ZS Associates

Nathan Brewer - Mark Finlan - Todd Hollowell - Tom Hulsebosch and Pratap Khedkar

- Denis McFarlane, Excellence in Leadership, Founder, Infinitive
- Steven Skinner, Excellence in Retail, Senior Vice President, Cognizant
- Gary Sturisky, Excellence in Leadership, National Consulting Leader, McGladrey
- Laura Yaeger, Excellence in Client Service, Executive Vice President, Huron Consulting Group
- James Feltman, Excellence in Client Service, Senior Managing Director, Mesirow Financial Consulting

Denis McFarlane - Steven Skinner - Gary Sturisky - Laura Yaeger and James Feltman

An analysis of the 25 young consultants reveals that all recognised advisors work at different consulting firms, with the overlarge majority serving in a leadership / partner role. 20 of the top 25 consultants are male (80%), highlighting that despite the considerable diversity efforts resounding throughout the industry the profession’s boardroom still is male dominated terrain. In the case of the Top 35 under 35 ranking, which highlights the brightest minds from lower ranks of the consulting ladder, the percentage of females was considerably higher (40%). More than half of the advisors work at a top-tier consultancy, for instance voted best consulting firm to work for or most prestigious consulting firm in the marketplace. 

Last month the MCA, the representative body for management consultancy firms in the UK, revealed its pick of the most talented young consultants in the UK, while earlier this month highlighted the six most influential consultants – from a thought leadership perspective – in banking.


Accenture's push into the creative sector is an identity crisis

18 April 2019

In its latest push into the creative sector, Accenture Interactive acquired New York and London-based ad agency Droga5 earlier this month, adding illustrious clients such as HBO, Amazon and The New York Times to its roster of clients. With the latest in a long line of similar purchases, Accenture Interactive further demonstrated its ambition of becoming the globe’s leading trusted advisor to chief marketing officers. Yet according to Ben Langdon, Chairman of Class35, Accenture’s strategy may be heading in the wrong direction.

A press release on Accenture’s website announcing the acquisition sits next to a quote stating that “brands aren’t built through advertising” – a huge contradiction from a consultancy firm hell-bent on becoming the ‘CMO agency of choice’. It’s not alone of course. The entire consulting industry wants a piece of the creative pie right now. In addition to Accenture Interactive, recent acquisitions by PwC Digital, IBM iX, and Deloitte Digital meant that in 2017, for the first time ever, four of the world’s ten largest creative agencies were consultancies.

So just what it is that Accenture wants to achieve from this? For one thing, it’s clearly trying to be a digital transformation business. A one-stop creative shop rivalling more traditional models, it wants to lure CMOs in with the promise of lower ad spend and a “more impactful customer experience”. At the same time, though, it’s still in thrall to those same slinky, shiny branding and advertising agencies it’s attempting to disrupt. The Droga5 acquisition and that of Karmarama a few years before are both testament to this.

There’s a fundamental problem with this, though. Digital transformation businesses don’t sell to CMOs. These people have enough on their plates trying to transform their own marketing skills in order to keep up with an ever-changing market – they just don’t have the time or the energy to concern themselves with digitally transforming a whole business. If Accenture’s purpose is digital transformation, then going after creative agencies is barking up the wrong tree.Is Accenture's push into the creative sector an identity crisis?

Worlds apart

Perhaps more importantly, these two industries are worlds apart in terms of the way they think. Creative agencies are all about ideas, campaigns and consumers. Digital businesses, on the other hand, are customer-driven – they think in terms such as lifetime value, measurement, and efficiency. Customer-led thinking is an entirely different beast to consumer-led thinking.

The reality is that the arrival of digital and an all-encompassing obsession with technology, measurement and social has led to the death of agencies in a reductive, zero-sum, efficiency-focused battle with brands. Indeed, agencies have become so obsessed with the latest tech fads, they’re beginning to forget how brands work. Worse still, they’re beginning to forget how brands are built. And, by forgetting, they’re destroying their own values.

Killing creativity

All things considered, it really feels to me as though Accenture is a chip leader in a game it doesn’t understand. Expensive acquisitions like these show that they’ve got the big money, but they don’t appear to have any idea what they’re doing with it. Take talent, for example. The best talent in the creative industry right now is out in the market; it’s not tied to any one agency. Both agencies might well be at the top of their game, but why would a consulting firm waste so much money on buying them when they could hire high-quality creative talent on a contingent basis instead?

As their presence in the top 10 creative agencies shows, there is a growing trend in which Accenture, like many of the other big players, are buying up agencies as if they were nothing more than keywords. What they’re really buying, though, is a collection of credentials, clients and IP. Unfortunately, the talent that created those credentials aren’t going to stay at the business, the clients that hired the agency in the first place won’t be interested in buying what is basically just another part of Accenture, and the IP never really existed to begin with.

Droga5, for example, was one of the few agencies that did great brand work the old-fashioned way – undoubtedly something that made it attractive to Accenture in the first place. The irony, though, is that by leading it further away from the way of working that made it so special, the consulting giant will kill its creativity.

“Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record…. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.”

If pressed, the recently acquired agency staff at Accenture will tell you just how dysfunctional the new arrangement is. They’re largely unfulfilled. Rarely do they feel their work has any sort of meaning or purpose. What’s more, the different disciplines have found little or no common ground, and find it hard to work together as a cohesive whole. It’s not surprising, then, to see talented people leaving in droves.

Beyond the window dressing 

It’s clear, then, that consulting firms and creative agencies are no easy bedfellows. But in his company’s defence, Accenture Interactive’s Senior Managing Director for North America, Glen Hartman, described its culture as being “far, far away from what a stereotypical consulting firm would look like. Our office and studios look a lot like Droga5’s.”

In demonstrating a belief that office design equates to workplace culture, this statement serves as an illustration of how confused Accenture is right now. It wants to justify its new strategy so badly, it’s started dressing like a creative agency. But if you look beyond the window dressing and see that you and your partners are speaking a different language with a different purpose, selling to different people in a different market, there’s no getting away from the fact that you’re different.

Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record, and it wants to dazzle others with its new direction. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.

Related: Space between consulting firms and creative agencies is converging.