McKinsey alumnus Tony Danker appointed new CEO of CBI

29 December 2020 3 min. read
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Tony Danker has become the latest former McKinsey & Company member to land a high profile role. Danker takes up the leadership of the UK’s Confederation of British Industry as it prepares to aid businesses during an unpredictable 2021.

The CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors. Together they employ nearly 7 million people, about one-third of the private sector-employed workforce. With 13 offices around the UK, the organisation has seen members endure a difficult 2020 amid a global pandemic the worst economic slump in Europe during the second quarter. As the CBI prepares for an uncertain 2021, with no end to the coronavirus crisis in sight, and a No Deal Brexit still seemingly on the cards, it has appointed a new Chief Executive Officer.

Tony Danker was most recently CEO of Be the Business, a role he held since 2017 – an organisation launched by executives of FTSE-100 companies, to transform the productivity of the UK economy. He now takes charge of the CBI, representing 190,000 companies and 7 million employees – or about a third of the working population in the private sector – following the exit of Carolyn Fairbairn, who held the role for the last five years.

McKinsey alumnus Tony Danker appointed new CEO of CBI

Originally from Northern Ireland, Danker holds a law degree from the University of Manchester. He began his professional life as Deputy Director of the Chief Rabbi in 1994, before spending two years as Director of Public Affairs for The Communications Group – the world's oldest independent relations consultancy. In 1998, he joined McKinsey & Company in London, working within the communications department, where he became Director.

After an MBA at Harvard Kennedy School in 2005, he became a Consultant, and worked in the firm’s public sector practice in its Washington and London offices – later becoming Senior Government Consultant there. In 2008 Danker left McKinsey for the Public Sector, as Policy Advisor in HM Treasury, Executive Department of the UK Government, from 2008 to 2010 – before becoming International Director, and then Strategy Director of Guardian News & Media, responsible for the development of international activities for the daily newspaper.

As the CBI’s new CEO, Danker will extend the mission of his predecessor Fairbairn, particularly in regards to the implementation of support programs for businesses in collaboration with the British Government amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, the CBI has developed its own Covid-19 support and resource centre for companies, especially for highly impacted SMEs.

Speaking on the challenges ahead, Danker told The Times, “Like every organisation, we have spent the last few years dealing with crisis, helping businesses stay afloat… But the world in 2021 is on the cusp of a new era, and like business itself, we must change to meet it. That means it is time to set aside old differences and forge a new relationship with government. It means business and government working together to build the most competitive economy in the world. And, at the CBI, it means doing everything in our power to help business help Britain.”

The news of Danker’s appointment coincides with Lloyds Banking Group hiring former HSBC banker Charlie Nunn as its new CEO. Nunn is also a former McKinsey & Company Partner, and replaces long-serving boss António Horta-Osório, who exits the position after a decade.