Despite being an industry oriented around solving some of the globe’s most complex problems, it seems the consulting industry fails to understand how best to advance gender diversity; specifically addressing the glass ceiling preventing women from reaching the partner level. In fact, female partners in the industry only account for 17% of total partners in the United States. In a bid to help address these bleak statistics, for the young woman considering a career in the consulting realm, here are pivotal Alpha Women that have made their mark on the industry who can act as your shining example.
In the early days of her career, Debbie Simpson worked at big four accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for a total of 16 years, nine of which was spent at the partner level. From there she later went on to spearhead efforts at MBB consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for more than 21 years. At BCG Simpson worked her way up the career ladder and served as CFO for 12 years where she was pivotal in helping the firm navigate its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In her spare time Simpson sits on the board of the organization Plan International USA that is at the forefront of advancing child advocacy efforts.
Shally Stanley is Managing Director of the global technology consulting company Acumen Solutions where she overseas a global team of close to 500 employees. Stanley’s expertise is evident in this role as her more than 20 years of management consulting experience working for Fortunate 500 companies and her prior experience serving as the Chief Technology Officer of Greenwich Technology Partners shines through. Stanley’s career began at the reputable consulting firm McKinsey & Company managing their global voice networking and systems team upon graduation from MIT after completing her studies in electrical engineering. From there she later went on to co-found a consulting company NetGain LLC that later brought in $5 million in revenue.
The third Alpha Woman presented is Heather Combs. She served as the Chief Revenue Officer, COO and CCO of 3Pillar Global, a software development firm that produces mobile applications. Combs’ responsibilities spanned marketing, development, and she saw the work of approximately 1000 people in the organization.
Her interest in the industry began following the completion of her studies in political science and psychology from the Texas A&M University. Her business experience has recently led her down the road of supporting women in leadership as Founding Member of Chief, and we’re excited to see what she’ll bring to the Education sector in her new role of CEO at StraighterLine.
Lan Guan is Accenture’s Senior Managing Director, and, in this role, she leads Accenture’s Strategy & Consulting sector that delves into artificial intelligence strategies for clients. Guan has worked at the firm for the past 18 years and in the process has had the opportunity to dabble in several industries. Her interest in AI consulting was sparked by her interest in mathematics as a child that eventually led her to pursue a Ph.D. in Quantitative Economics. Her self-dubbed “most interesting project” that she has worked on while at Accenture is working with start-ups to improve the learning of adults by leveraging artificial intelligence. In her free time, Guan works collaboratively with the non-profit, Upwardly Global, that offers professional services to immigrants and refugees.
Furthermore, although the consulting industry is in dire need of reckoning, Alpha Women such as these are paving the way for industry wide re-evaluation, forcing companies to re-think company ideals, and encouraging firms to critically regard their organizational culture. In doing so, the future of consulting is bright and the solving of the globe’s complex problems is in prudent hands.