Accenture divorced from accounting firm Arthur Andersen in August 2000, and like many divorces, it was rancorous. The fledgling firm - then known as Andersen Consulting - needed strong leadership to make it through that turmoil.
Apparently Accenture got it. Chairman and CEO Joe Forehand, who joined the firm in 1972, has delivered fast growth and sizable profits since the split. Despite the recession and tech meltdown, the new firm grew revenue at twice the rate of other business consultancies during past two years, and posted profits of $1.1 billion on revenues of $11.4 billion in 2001. It is now the world's third-largest provider of IT-related business services and operates in 47 countries.
Along the way, Forehand has pushed Accenture into new territory by outsourcing many of the firm's back-office functions and even client services - it now maintains more than 200 outsourcing arrangements - and by moving gradually from the traditional hourly billing of consultants to pay-for-performance.
The 54-year-old Forehand travels 200 days a year, but American Way caught up with him on a rare day at the home office in Dallas. He spoke about the new style of business consulting Accenture represents - and what he is hearing from CEOs about a coming crisis in management.
AMERICAN WAY: You outsource an unusual amount of your operations and your service offerings to partners. What makes this work?
JOE FOREHAND: We have 30 percent of our revenue growth from outsourcing, usually around technology or business processes, such as IT, finance, or customer relationship management. Increasingly, companies are building their management team's abilities around whatever is critical to compete in their market space. As Jack Welch said, your back office is sometimes someone else's front office, where it could get more time, attention, and skills.