Modern business consulting as we know it today came about more than a hundred years ago. As companies discovered the need for higher profitability and efficiency, the need for brilliant problem solvers rose who could guide the leaders of these corporations to success.
Many of the most famous consultants who became known during that time continue to influence business today with their long-standing strategy frameworks and business models — but there are just as many consultants to get inspired by in the industry today.
Whether you’re already working as aconsultant or thinking of becoming one, the best way to set your career aspirations high is to look at the best in your field. So in this article, we’ve gathered some of the most famous consultants of all time, political consultants who helped create history, and the business consultants who continue to shape this field in 2022.
Though consultants are rather known as the behind-the-scenes experts on the side of famous CEOs and politicians, some of them made a name for themselves in the process and became widely recognized themselves. Here are the legends who lead the way in the consulting industry, in no particular order.
All-Time Famous Consultants
Peter Ferdinand Drucker was an Austrian-American management consultant, educator, and author who started his consulting career as early as the 1940s. His writings contributed a great deal to the practical foundations of modern business.
He worked with numerous major brands such as General Electric, Coca-Cola, Citicorp, IBM, and Intel, and advised governmental as well as non-governmental organizations from around the globe. His theories were centered around management. In fact, he was the first to define management as we know it today, as a distinct function and responsibility in companies.
Philip Kotler’s name most likely rings a bell because he’s the one who came up with the marketing mix, one of the most popularized consulting frameworks and strategy tools in the world. He’s an author, consultant, and a professor emeritus at Kellogg School of Management, voted as the Best Business School for six years in a row by Business Week magazine.
He’s the author of 57 books, including Marketing Management, the most widely used marketing book in graduate business schools worldwide. He’s published over 150 articles in leading journals, several of which have received best-article awards. As a consultant, he worked with companies like IBM, General Electric, AT&T, Honeywell, and Bank of America, to name a few.
Michael Eugene Porter is an academic as well as one of the most known authors and researchers in the field of business. He is a professor at Harvard Business School, and he was one of the founders of the consulting firm The Monitor Group and FSG.
His research has received numerous awards, and it’s widely recognized by corporations, governments, and NGOs. In fact, he’s one of the most cited scholars in economics and business through to today. He created economic theories and strategic concepts that helped solve some of the biggest challenges, not just in the corporate world but in society as well. His legacy mainly revolves around the areas of market competition, economic development, the environment, and health care.
Famous Political Consultants
Donna Lease Brazile is a political strategist, campaign manager, political analyst, author, and political contributor for Fox News. She’s known as the first African American woman to direct a major presidential campaign, while working as a campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000. She also worked on a number of presidential campaigns for other candidates, including Jesse Jackson, Walter Mondale–Geraldine Ferraro, and Dick Gephardt. She was previously a CNN contributor, and now she’s a member of the Democratic Party where she’s served as an interim chair of the Democratic National Committee multiple times.
Margaret Hoover is an American conservative political commentator, political strategist, media personality, feminist, gay rights activist, and author. She’s also known as the great-granddaughter of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States. She was previously a political contributor both at Fox News and CNN.
David Plouffe became known as a political strategist while he was a campaign manager for Barack Obama’s successful 2008 presidential campaign. He was a partner at the consulting firm AKPD Message and Media when he started working with the Democratic Party, and he worked as an outside senior advisor to Obama since the president’s first day in office. Later, he was appointed as a Senior Advisor inside the White House and also consulted brands like Uber and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Famous Business Consultants
Jim Collins is a researcher, author, speaker, and consultant whose work mainly revolves around business management, company sustainability, and business growth. He co-authored a series of books selling 10 million copies worldwide including the #1 international bestseller Good to Great.
Jim sees himself as a student just as much as a teacher, which is likely the source of his relentless curiosity about what makes great companies tick. As a teacher and researcher at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992, and in 2017, Forbes selected him as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds.
Mike Arauz is a speaker, advisor, and Founding Member at August, a New York based consulting firm building high-performing teams. During his career as a consultant, he worked with organizations such as GE, Pearson, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s also a co-author of the Responsive.org manifesto and a leading contributor to the global self-management and future of work movement.
As he states on his personal website, Mike declines opportunities to speak on stages and panels that don’t include women, as a way to stand up for equality in the business world. On his 11,000+ strong Twitter account, he’s actively sharing his messages as a thought leader and independent consultant.
Barbara Minto is a consultant and author focused on the subject of executive communication. She’s known as a real trailblazer: She graduated from the second Harvard Business School class ever to admit women, and in 1963, she joined the international management consulting firm McKinsey & Company as their first female consultant. She developed The Pyramid Principle during her early years as a consultant at Mckinsey, and later published it in her 1987 international bestseller which is, to this day, one of the most read books about consulting.
Today, she runs her own consultancy firm, International Inc. which specializes in teaching the pyramid principle to business leaders. During her career, she’s trained professionals at most major consulting firms, the world’s largest corporations, and numerous government organizations.
Roger Martin is a writer and strategy advisor who was named the #1 management thinker in the world in 2017 by Thinkers50. He’s consulted CEOs of some of the most known brands on the planet, such as Procter & Gamble, Lego, and Ford. He is also a former Dean at the University of Toronto, for which he was named global Dean of the Year by Poets & Quants. He’s written 30 Harvard Business Review articles and over a dozen books, including Playing to Win, which won the award for Best Book by the Thinkers50.
Consultants to Follow in 2022
Quay Kester is the Founder of Evoke Research And Consulting, a firm with a mission-centric approach. She designs deep-dive learning experiences in order to navigate cultural dynamics such as equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Her consulting work mainly revolves around initiatives for anti-discrimination.
Besides her background in consulting, she’s also an ICF-certified executive coach, curriculum designer, and learning experience mentor. She’s a facilitator of the initiatives Powerful Conversations About Race (PCR) and Corona Dialogues For Spirit & Place, supporting future thinking about community changes.
Amy Gilliland is the President of General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), a global technology enterprise with operations in 30 countries and 30,000 technologists. Her team is responsible for delivering critical mission capabilities across defense, civilian, and intelligence agencies.
Amy has more than 25 years of experience in the public sector and has even served in the U.S. Navy. She’s worked in a series of leadership positions at General Dynamics, where she built growth strategies for artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and cybersecurity. As the president of the firm, she has built an employee-focused culture that values accountability and speed. She’s been recognized as one of Virginia Business Magazine’s 50 Most Influential Virginians and is a four-time Wash100 Award Winner.
David C. Baker is a management consultant who specializes in helping small businesses improve their quality of business decisions. He’s worked with more than 900 organizations, most of which are operating in the digital marketing and creative industry. He’s written five books, and he regularly appears on podcasts and TV shows all over the world. His work has been discussed in the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, USA Today, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, MarketingProfs, BusinessWeek, and CBS.
Tara Gentile is the founder and creator of the Quiet Power Strategy, as well as a podcast host at What Works and a community builder. As a consultant, she helps business leaders and entrepreneurs find their strengths and grow their influence. She has written several books on business strategy and was named one of the top 24 female podcast hosts for business owners by Entrepreneur magazine. Her website was named one of the 10 sites every entrepreneur should bookmark by The Muse, and she’s spoken on the stages of SXSW, Pioneer Nation, Digital Commerce Summit, and Blogher.