Places lived: United States (Pittsburgh, Boston, Denver, Washington, DC, New York, New Canaan)
Education: Phillips Academy, Andover; Harvard College, AB; Harvard Business School, MBA
Experience: McKinsey, partner responsible for marketing and communications; Boston Consulting Group, partner responsible for the innovation, marketing, and communications group; founder and CEO of The Glass House Group, consulting firm focused on marketing and practice development at professional services firm.
Focus: Social marketing and entrepreneurship. "I'm convinced that great things can be accomplished for society through profitable, imaginative, and well-run social enterprises."
Intellectual influences: Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka, Milton Friedman, Samuel Johnson, T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, and Jay Forrester
Turning points: Receiving a scholarship to Andover. "I grew up in a very poor coal-mining town. Andover paved the way for whatever success that I've had."
"For a big chunk of my life, I have wondered whether Eliot was right in his essay on the poet Cowley that modern man suffers from a 'dissociation of sensibilities' and that he can no longer unite sensation and thought. I wondered whether I could in life and work."
Bill started his studies at Harvard focusing on mathematics and astronomy, but by the time he graduated his degree was in English literature. After graduating, he taught English at a private school in Colorado for a few years and then sold stocks and bonds for a few more. Then he decided to get an MBA. "I was a fish out of water at HBS. It seemed that all my classmates studied accounting and law and I studied mathematical theory and metaphysical poetry. I got out thinking I wanted to have nothing to do with business."
But life smiled on Bill when he was offered a job at Porter Novelli, a small consulting firm in Georgetown, DC that specialized in social marketing. "I loved the work. It made me think hard and creatively about non-financial transactions and let me feel that I was also doing something good for the world. Bill Novelli became my friend and mentor - two Italian guys from western Pennsylvania playing soccer together on the weekends and saving the world during the week."
Bill then took a job with a client, United Way of America, and became head of marketing. "I really enjoyed the job and actually found what I learned at HBS to be helpful. But after a few years, it became clear that I had to choose between a career in philanthropy and a career in business. So when McKinsey asked me to join them and head up marketing, I decided to go. 'Sensibilities' got divided."
Bill became a partner within two years of joining McKinsey and stayed there for almost twenty. "I never really managed marketing at McKinsey - that had to be done at the country level. But I focused on our brand and worked closely with McKinsey's thought leaders - Ken Ohmae, John Sawhill, Lowell Bryan, Fred Gluck, and Tom Peters. I had true friends there and was close to Marvin Bower, McKinsey's founder. Eventually I took over the McKinsey Quarterly, knowledge management, alumni relations, and competitive analysis, and it started to look like real work."
Bill left McKinsey to help a few of his former partners sell a consulting firm they had started. "This was quite an adventure during the e-commerce boom and bust period. I learned a lot and we did well because of either skill or luck." Bill then became a partner at the Boston Consulting Group. "BCG wanted me to do what I did for McKinsey and it was a good six years. Again, I worked closely with thought leaders such as George Stalk, Hal Sirkin, Yves Morieux, and Luc du Brabandere. But it was very different. McKinsey had a culture of contribution. BCG had a culture of credit."
After retiring from BCG, Bill had more time to devote to nonprofit organizations with which he was involved. He increased the amount of time he spent with Ashoka. He became chairman of the board of United Way International and then joined the board of United Way of America, where he focused on transforming United Way into a global organziation. "I kept preaching that we needed to be a network, not a system. They probably got sick of me saying that." Bill is also on the board of trustees of First Book, a nonprofit organization that has distributed over 100 million books to poor children in the United States.
Bill became acquainted with Tapestry Networks through a former McKinsey partner. "I was immediately attracted to what Tapestry is trying to do - to advance society's ability to govern and lead. I hope and believe that Tapestry and its members can put new arrangements in place that reconnect business and society so that much more value - both economic and social value - gets created."