Future Leader Award
When the announcement went out within A.T. Kearney that Leslie Parker would be recognized as a Future Leader as part of Consulting magazine’s Women Leaders in Consulting awards, she says she received several well wishes but one note, in particular, caught her eye. It was from a new analyst who saw the press release about the award.
“She wrote about being inspired to see me receive it,” Parker says. “That brought it home to me—the award reminds us of the importance of having women as role models in leadership positions; it makes a difference to the people who are climbing the ladder.”
Leslie Parker, a Principal in A.T. Kearney’s Operations Practice, is indeed climbing the ladder. Parker has been with the firm since 1997 and provides leadership to client organizations that are seeking to improve profitability and performance by adopting and implementing best-in-class procurement capabilities.
Ask Parker what she enjoys most about the consulting work she does and she’ll say that “most of all, I enjoy the personal connections with clients and colleagues. Many are now close friends. I also enjoy seeing my clients generating real results from the work we do together.”
But a consulting career almost wasn’t to be. Parker says she found the profession by luck.
“I was planning to go to law school and had a change of heart, meaning I needed to get a job,” Parker says. “Since I didn’t know what I wanted to do ‘forever,’ consulting seemed like a good option—the projects would be interesting and varied, and I expected to learn a lot. It was a good match for a new graduate.”
Today, she leads projects focused on procurement organization transformation and supply cost improvement. She holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson and an AB in Psychology from Georgetown University.
She is a trustee of the George F. Baker Scholars Program—a Georgetown program that encourages liberal arts students to pursue business careers. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
“For me, my family is my greatest personal achievement. The fact that my husband and I have figured out how to make consulting work within it is icing on the cake,” Parker says.
“I’ve been fortunate that A.T. Kearney has worked with me throughout my personal journey, from just out of undergrad to post MBA to becoming a mom. I’ve enjoyed flexibility and support all the way.”
That flexibility and support has led, in part, to her success and has come from not only her family and her firm, but occasionally through the client, as well.
Parker says the best advice she’s ever received along the way is simple, yet profound.
“Focus on the client, not yourself,” she says.
What advice would you give to a female consultant just beginning her career?
Leslie Parker says: “I don’t think the advice is much different for women and men at the beginning of a consulting career: Dive in, be willing to learn, do great work, and support your clients’ success.”