One of the most highly sought-after speakers, Rita McGrath leaves her audiences knowing exactly what it takes to ensure that their their businesses avoid obsolescence. Professor at Columbia Business School, McGrath is considered to be one of the world's leading experts on strategy and innovation.
Born in 1959 in New Haven, Connecticut, it was her father who first gave Rita McGrath a feeling for the importance of business strategy. She says he taught her to realise that the victims of bad decision making are always the people at the bottom of an organisation.
She started her professional life as an entrepreneur, setting up two small businesses before moving into a position running purchasing systems for government agencies. After 8 years she went back to school at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School where she did her PhD before joining Columbia Business School in New York in 1993 as Professor.
She has coached and worked with a diverse range of businesses including government departments, the Air Force and the Red Cross, arguing that her methods can offer solutions to the problems of any type of organization. Some current clients include Pearson, Coca-Cola Enterprises, General Electric, Alliance Boots F-Secure, Nokia, Microsoft, AXA Equitable, General Electric, Novartis, PPG Industries, and the Stena Group.
She has had thirteen articles published in the Harvard Business Review and many other leading academic journals. She is currently working on a new book about how organisations can thrive when their strategies are short-lived.
She is on the editorial boards of the Strategic Management Journal and The Academy of Management Review.
She is a regular speaker at corporate events including the Microsoft CEO Summit and the World Economic Forum and is regularly quoted in the press - The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Business week. She makes frequent TV and radio appearances, maintains a blog - www.ritamcgrath.com - and is a discussion leader at Harvard Business Online.
Rita McGrath gives people the tools they need to plan for growth with confidence. She speaks with enthusiasm and teaches people how to use her academic insights to connect with real problems - a skill for which she is highly valued.
McGrath's ideas on developing sound strategy in uncertain and volatile environments are employed by some of the world's leading organizations including Yale School of Management, Du Pont, Lufthansa, 3M and the World Economic Forum. Without exception, the people she engages with describe her thinking as provocative, unfailingly stimulating and a fresh approach to strategy.
Her achievements, activities and professional output are prolific: in both 2013 and 2015, McGrath was recognized by Thinkers50 as one of the Top 10 Most Influential Business Thinkers. The Global Management Award also presented her with the the Distinguished Achievement Award for Strategy in 2013.
Rated one of the 25 Smartest Women To Follow On Twitter by Fast Company Magazine, McGrath consistently appears in rankings of the top professors to follow on Twitter. Voted HR Magazine’s Most Influential International Thinker, she also writes regularly for Fortune Magazine, authors a regular column for Inc magazine and blogs regularly at HBR.org where she is one of the most widely published authors.
Her best-selling book “Discovery Driven Planning” has been recognized as one of the early articulation of today’s “lean” startup philosophy: Clayton Christensen called it one of the most important ideas in management - ever.
Rita is married and proud to be the mother of two delightful grownups.
"You know a presentation was good when you can't wait to get back to work and make some changes" - DigitalNow Conference
"Rita did a great job of getting her message across in 45 minutes. She speakers from her heart and does not use notes. It was no surprise that Rita's presentation ranked highest of all external speakers." - Leading Hotels of the World
"Rita's keen insights into strategy building - and avoiding creative destruction - were a perfect fit with our conference focus." - Coca-Cola Enterprises
"An exceptional instructor, Rita has the ability to take complex topics and make them understandable and applicable." - Pearson
"The fact that we ran over and had to forcibly eject our guests is reflective of how engaging the conversation was at the event. I can't thank you enough." - Columbia Media Lab