Consulting Magazine - Best Practices Webinar
  • One on One

Kennedy Corner

  • »Breaking the Cycle of Volatility and Supply Chain Performance Deterioration

    The great moderation that lasted from the mid-1980s through 2007 was characterized by low volatility and strong gains in business performance that combined in the fashion of a virtuous cycle. The supply chain was a significant beneficiary and source of these gains.
  • »Disruption, Financial Services and the Buffalo Bills
    The year was 1996: Alanis Morissette and the Smashing Pumpkins dominated radio—we still listened to radio back then—while your Internet 1.0 experience began when your dial-up modem screeched for 20 seconds and then connected you to your AOL account. You had mail! It was in that year that Episode 7 of the fourth season of the popular SciFi drama The X-Files aired, during which a conspiracy was laid bare in a secret meeting by powerful men.
  • »It’s a Floorwax... It’s a Dessert Topping... Actually, it’s Both!
    There are few sure things in the world. One might cite death and taxes, but only slightly down the list is the inevitable answer a Big Four consultant provides to the question “What is your firm’s strength?” Everything, of course.
  • »Show Me The Money
    Management consulting is a cash business. Now salaries and bonuses within the consulting industry are certainly not at the stratospheric levels enjoyed by their kindred brethren in investment banking. But consultants generally do realize much-better-than-average wages relative to their counterparts in the corporate world.
  • »Will ‘Knowledge Workers’ (Consultants) Be Replaced by Machines? It’s Possible
    The management consulting industry to date has been largely unscathed by the wave of technological change. However, there are signs that digital technologies are now beginning to disrupt the management consulting industry as well, with potentially deep and far-reaching consequences.
  • »A Force in Consumer Banking
    Banks have been stepping up their customer satisfaction game in recent years against the typical market forces at play. The pace of change has been head-spinning for an industry not well known for its swift response to customers.
» View all

Travel Advisory

  • »Survey: Consultants Are On the Road Again
    After years of fits and starts in an uncertain economy, travel is back in the consulting profession, at least according to the results of our annual Best Places to Stay survey.
  • »Marriott Goes Big in NYC
    Marriott International, Inc. and G Holdings opened what they’re calling an “iconic addition” to the New York skyline, a combined 378-room Courtyard hotel and 261-suite Residence Inn hotel in midtown Manhattan. The $320 million, 68-story property is the tallest single-use hotel in North America.
  • »Best Places to Stay: Travel Bounces Back
    Consultants are on the road again, at least according to the results of our annual Best Places to Stay survey.
  • »FAA: ‘Staffing Challenges’ Causing Delays
    In case you haven’t noticed, non-weather related delays at U.S. airports are on the rise. (And I know you’ve noticed that weather-related delays are definitely on the rise.)
» View all

Book It!

  • »Q&A: Keeping It Simple
    BCG’s Six Simple Rules sets out to simplify some organizational complexity.
  • »Review: Leading the Life You Want
    It seems that everyone has an opinion on work/life balance these days, but Stewart D. Friedman’s Leading the Life You Want isn’t necessarily one of them.
  • »Review: The Culture Map
    Globalization led to the rapid connection of internationally based employees from all levels of multinational companies, and now those same employees are expected to collaborate with colleagues scattered all over the world.
  • »Review: Twitter is Not a Strategy
    Today’s digital frenzy has led many to declare that advertising is dead… or at least dying. Is it?
  • »Excerpt: Procurement as Productivity
    The following is an excerpt from the book Procurement 20/20: Supply Entrepreneurship in a Changing World by a quartet of McKinsey & Company consultants—Peter Spiller, Nicolas Reinecke, Drew Ungerman and Henrique Teixera.
  • »Review: The Risk-Driven Business Model
    Most companies focus their innovation on new products.
» View all

Security Check

New Image
  • Home
  • Columns
  • Interviews
8 28 2009
»Where They Are Now: Lisa Gardner
Lisa Gardner’s consulting career was cut short by a husband who savagely murdered 10 women. The psychopathic spouse is the villain in Gardner’s 1998 best-selling suspense novel, The Perfect Husband (Bantam). Gardner penned the book late at night following her long days as a young research analyst with Mercer Management (now Oliver Wyman) in Boston during the mid-1990s.
A self-professed “research geek,” Gardner says her time as a consultant gave her the skills and confidence to follow a line of investigation while delving into new topics. “What brought me to both writing and consulting is my passion for research,” she says from her home in New Hampshire.
Gardner published three romance novels before she finished college. “You don’t publish a novel and then hang up your hat,” she notes. To quench her thirst for research, and economic stability, Gardner joined Mercer in 1993. For two years, she worked 12-hour days and then returned home to write fiction from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. She ultimately produced 13 romance novels, including one (The Midnight Hour) that was made into a TV-movie.
Needing a change, Gardner soon switched her focus to suspense novels toward the end of her two-year stint with Mercer—an experience that provided a supportive network, research opportunities and fodder for her books. “All of the research analysts sat together,” she recalls. “And we would nominate different vice presidents to kill off.”
She credits her two years in the profession with imparting proficiencies she uses as a novelist. “I learned a lot about marketing. And marketing is everything in publishing,” Gardner asserts. “The other thing you learn as a research analyst that really comes in handy [as a novelist] is cold-calling. We were assigned a lot of cold calls, and that’s still how I conduct a lot of my research. I need to know how hanging bodies decompose outdoors, so I look up a company on the Internet and make the phone call.”
Prior to her experience as a research analyst, Gardner says she was interested in .writing suspense novels, but felt too intimated by the genre. Most suspense novelists are former cops, crime reporters or lawyers who sprinkle precise details culled from first-hand experience into their stories.
“Once I felt confident as a research analyst, I started to realize that I could write bigger novels, ones that pay a lot more” Gardner notes. The advance from The Perfect Husband, which became her first book with Bantam and a New York Times best-seller, gave Gardner enough of a financial cushion to take a crack at becoming a full-time writer.
Her former colleagues at Mercer remained supportive of her efforts after she left the firm. “During the first year after I left [consulting] I was living on baloney because I had to make the advance last,” she says. “And everyone [among her group of friends at the firm] took me to dinner and invited me over.”
It was a short-lived regression. Since leaving consulting, Gardner has completed a dozen more suspense novels, including most recently The Neighbor (Bantam, 2009), which consistently place in the upper reaches of best-seller lists. Her web site,, demonstrates her marketing chops: her fictional attacks on old consulting superiors has evolved into a “Kill a Friend, Maim a Buddy” program in which fans can nominate friends (or foes) to be featured in her upcoming novels.
“I still think my two years as a consultant
were probably the most valuable years of my education,” says Gardner. “Publishing is a numbers game, and I’m pretty levelheaded about understanding that it is a business. [Publishing] is really about spreadsheets, and to feel confident
wading through it is huge.”
»Related Articles
  • Interviews
  • Women in Consulting
  • Platinum Sponsors:


    Gold Sponsors:


    Ernst & Young

    Silver Sponsors:


    Alix Partners

  • Register

    Gold Sponsors:

    Ernst & Young

    Silver Sponsors:

  • Featured Speakers:

    Joseph Kornik

    Joseph Kornik
    Publisher and Editor-in-Chief,
    Consulting magazine

    Brian Murphy

    Brian Murphy
    Chief of Staff, Point B

    Brian Jacobsen

    Brian Jacobsen
    General Manager, Slalom Consulting

    Tom Rodenhauser

    Tom Rodenhauser
    Managing Director, Advisory Services, Kennedy Consulting Research & Advisory

    Sponsor Speaker:

    Drew West

    Drew West
    Director, Product Marketing,

    Sponsored By:

    Deltek Logo


page loading