An ascendant descendent
As a consultancy, A.T. Kearney has a rich heritage that takes it
back to the setup of McKinsey & Company and the arrival of
consulting as a profession in 1920s Chicago. When James Oscar
McKinsey set up his original firm in the city in 1926, one of the
first partners he was to hire three years later was a certain
fellow by the name of Andrew Thomas Kearney. Following McKinsey's
death in 1939, the firm's two offices-based in New York and
Chicago-split, with Kearney taking the latter and focusing the
company's attention on operations and manufacturing.
Today, that office has become a monster of a firm, with a truly
global reach; it has offices in 40 countries across the world. And,
of course, as it has grown over its nearly 90-year history, the
company has diversified its operations. Now boasting a workforce of
some 2,300 consultants, it proudly focuses on what it calls
"CEO-agenda concerns," a list that ranges from merger, growth and
IT strategies, to supply chain management, innovation and
complexity management, and enterprise services transformation.
In June, 2013, leaders of A.T. Kearney formally launched Vision
2020 to colleagues globally. Johan Aurik, managing partner and
chairman of the board, introduced a new, bold, vision for the firm,
with the ambition of being the industry's most admired firm,
distinguished by "the our culture and how we work."
The firm's vision is: to be "the most admired global
full-service management consulting firm," distinguished by its
culture and how it works; to be the "first choice in providing
immediate impact and growing advantage for our clients, our people,
and the societies in which we live"; and to be a "global
collaborative partnership, top three where we choose to compete,
double in size by 2020."
The firm also outlines four key promises, which are as follows:
to be "recognized for co-creation of innovative ideas and
high-impact results with our clients and external partners"; to
"create lasting benefits for the societies in which we live, in
collaboration with deep networks of external partnerships"; to
"provide unsurpassed personal growth and opportunities for our
people in a collaborative and diverse culture"; and to "realize
above-market growth and value for our clients and
A failed romance
Looking at its more recent history, A.T. Kearney walked into
what can only be described as a loveless marriage in 1995 with
Texas-based tech monolith Electronic Data Services (EDS), now a
unit of HP. Initial intentions seem clear enough: EDS was
looking to boost its flagging consulting arm, while giving A.T.
Kearney's specialists access to some of its high-profile clients.
The reality, however, failed to live up to the intentions, and the
partnership lasted a mere 10 years. Various factors, including a
drop in EDS' earnings, cultural differences at an executive level
and a general dislike among A.T. Kearney's management of the notion
of being a subsidiary of a publicly held company soon led to a
parting of the ways. That officially occurred in January 2006, when
more than 170 of the firm's leading consultants (from no less than
26 countries) participated in a management buyout to take the firm
A key plank of A.T. Kearney's reputation is based on its Global
Business Policy Council. Established by Paul Laudicina as a forum
for corporate, government and academic leaders to discuss relevant
issues, the council is limited to the world's top CEOs and
business-minded leaders. The group meets regularly to discuss
topics such as globalization, foreign direct investment and
In addition to the advice and implementation work the firm does
for its clients, A.T. Kearney leverages its expertise by producing
a wide variety of studies each year that track trends in a range of
industries. Since 2001, for example, the firm has released an
annual Global Retail Development Index, which details retail
investment attractiveness in global markets.
IN THE NEWS
A.T. Kearney introduced Vision 2020, with the ambition of being
the industry's most admired firm, doubling in size by 2020.
Johan Aurik, the firm's managing partner and chairman of the
board, featured on the cover of Consulting magazine for
its annual list of "Top 25 Consultants." The headline notes,
"A.T. Kearney's evolutionary change: Johan Aurik takes over a firm
that's rediscovered its groove. Renewed optimism, regained
confidence and a re-invigorated sense of purpose define the A.T.
Defining the Brand
The firm introduced a new look to further distinguish its
86-year-old brand in the global consulting marketplace. The updated
visual identity followed a year-long initiative to clarify the
firm's distinctiveness and further define its brand.