McKinsey head Dominic Barton named Chancellor of University of Waterloo

27 June 2018 4 min. read

Dominic Barton, the head of global strategy consultancy McKinsey and Company, has been selected as the University of Waterloo’s 11th chancellor. In the role of chancellor, Barton will use his enormous clout and network of contacts to advance the interests of the university.

On July 1, Dominic Barton will step down as Global Managing Director of strategy consulting firm McKinsey & Company, having served the maximum of three, three year terms. Under his guidance, the prestigious firm – which supports the executives of top companies around the world while allegedly commanding the highest consulting fees – doubled its revenues, as well as its number of partners. The breakneck growth experienced by McKinsey under Barton’s leadership has pushed the consultancy to $10 billion in annual revenues, with 2,000 partners and 28,000 employees across 65 countries. Barton will be handing over the reins of McKinsey to new head Kevin Sneady.

Barton, a Canadian born in Uganda to missionary parents, holds a number of other important positions in addition to heading the most prestigious global strategy firm. He is the chair of the Canadian Minister of Finance’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, as well as the chair of the Seoul International Business Advisory Council. Barton is also a trustee of the Brookings Institution, a Rhodes trustee, an adjunct professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, a member of the Singapore Economic Development Board's International Advisory Council, and a board member at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York and the Asia Pacific Foundation Canada. In short, he has a decent CV.

Now, Barton can add ‘Chancellor’ to his list of titles. The University of Waterloo recently announced that it has appointed Dominic Barton as the educational institution’s 11th chancellor. Established in 1956, Waterloo is one of Canada’s top ‘innovation’ universities, with a strong focus on STEM research. It is also home to the world’s largest co-operative education system.Dominic Barton, Chancellor - University of WaterlooIn Canada, university chancellors are the titular heads of their educational institutions, playing an ambassadorial role in advancing the institutions’ interests in local, provincial, and international contexts. Chancellors also confer the degrees of the university. The figurehead role is occupied by distinguished people who have excelled in their fields and in service to their communities, and who have the clout to advance the interests of the universities both nationally and internationally. Previous Waterloo chancellors have included Fairfax Holdings Chair Prem Watsa and Blackberry Co-Founder Mike Lazaridis.

In 2015, Barton linked up with Feridun Hamdullahpur – president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo – and other academic, government, and business leaders, when McKinsey adopted the UN Women's HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 gender equity initiative. The program aims for top-level driven progress by enlisting cross-sector executives to develop and implement gender equality commitments.

"Dominic Barton is renowned for his strategic insights and expert guidance on business, governance and economic development," remarked Hamdullahpur. "We are inspired by Dominic's commitment to creating positive global change and to equity and inclusivity which in many ways complement our University's record of innovation and aspirations to make a global impact."

Barton will succeed Tom Jenkins as university chancellor. Jenkins – the chair of both OpenText as well as the National Research Council – was chancellor for three years.

An illustrious career

Barton started his career at McKinsey’s Toronto office in 1986, after briefly working as a currency analyst in London. He moved to the McKinsey office in Seoul in 1997, and led the Korean office from 2000 to 2004. From 2004, Barton served as McKinsey’s chairman in Asia, before being elected global managing partner in 2009.

He holds a BA Honours in economics from the University of British Columbia, and was a Rhodes scholar at the University of Oxford, where he completed an MPhil in economics.  He has received a raft of awards over his career, including the INSEAD Business Leader for the World Award (2011), the Korean Order of Civil Merit (2013), the Singaporean Public Service Star (2014), the Foreign Policy Association Corporate Social Responsibility Award (2017), and Canada's Public Policy Forum Testimonial Award (2017).