Ten famous CEOs who started in consulting

Management consulting is rarely an end of its own--even for those who go on to be partners within a firm. Often, MBB consultants are hired by former clients, but these cases represent just a small percentage of successful former consultants. Some of the greatest entrepreneurs and business leaders started in management consulting, which is a testament to the great preparation consulting provides for business leadership broadly. We’ve collected a few of our favorite past and present CEOs who started their careers at McKinsey, Bain or BCG.


1) Susan Wojcicki 

A humanities major during her Harvard undergrad, Susan Wojcicki worked as a management consultant for Bain before Larry Page and Sergei Brin started Google from her garage in California. Now she is the CEO of Youtube, and was one of Fortune’s ten most powerful Women in Business in 2018. 


2) Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi spent time in a variety of industries, including a stint as a strategy consultant for BCG, before becoming CEO of Pepsi. Pepsi’s sales grew 80% during her leadership, and Indra has won numerous awards for her executive leadership and graced Forbes The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list for several years. 

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3) Bobby Lo 

Before he founded Vurb, an award-winning mobile search and discovery app, Bobby spent three years consulting for BCG. Since Vurb’s acquisition by Snapchat, Bobby remains a Snapchat product advisor and invests in exciting startups in various industries. 


4) Megan Whitman 

Early in Megan’s career she worked for Bain as a consultant and eventually rose to be a Senior Vice President. If you’ve noticed a trend among the consultants we’ve listed, you might correctly guess that Megan didn’t end her career at Bain. She is most famous as CEO of Ebay and then later Hewlett-Packard. Now she is the CEO of Quibi, a video startup set to launch in 2020. 


5) Steve Hafner

Steve Hafner co-founded travel aggregator Kayak, where he still serves as CEO. He consulted at BCG for several years--and describes himself as “One of the best powerpoint monkeys on their staff.” Is that a good thing? We hope so. 


6) Eric Baker 

Eric consulted for McKinsey and worked in Bain’s investment banking venture. While at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, he co-founded StubHub, and later founded Viagogo, another ticket resale company of which he is still the CEO. 


7) Dave Gilboa

Dave co-founded popular glasses retailer and social impact innovator Warby Parker after spending time consulting for Bain. He advocates for eye health accessibility and has received many acclamations for his commitment to entrepreneurship and the social good. 


8) Margo Georgiadis 

Margo worked at McKinsey both before and after completing her MBA at Harvard Business School. She filled important roles at various companies including Google before becoming CEO of Mattel, Inc. and most recently Ancestry.com. 


9) Kathryn Minshew 

Kathryn Minshew, a former management consultant at McKinsey, founded the career platform The Muse in 2011, the same year she made Forbes 30 under 30 list. She has already won numerous entrepreneurship awards at the age of 33, and will doubtless continue to create, innovate, and excel for years to come.  


10) Martin Roper

Years after he worked as a consultant for BCG, Roper began his 17-year tenure as CEO of Boston Beer Company, most well-known for the brands Sam Adams and Angry Orchard. In 2018 he transitioned to a more wholesome beverage as president of Vita Coco, the leading brand of Coconut Water.


The list goes on--every consulting firm has a list of illustrious alumni who started as associates or business analysts. You could be next!

Luke Cannon