Thomas J. Tierney

Chairman and Co-founder

About Thomas J. Tierney

Tom is a recognized leader in serving the nonprofit sector. In 1999, he co-founded The Bridgespan Group, an independent, nonprofit organization that collaborates with mission-driven leaders and organizations to help accelerate social impact.

Tom frequently speaks and writes on a variety of topics related to nonprofit leadership and philanthropy. He lectures at Harvard Business School and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and has contributed to numerous case studies and publications, including the Harvard Business Review and the Stanford Social Innovation Review. He also contributed chapters to the Leader to Leader Institute's Leader of the Future and Indiana University Press's Taking Philanthropy Seriously and has been featured in articles on philanthropy in the New York Times and the Financial Times. In 2009, Tom was named as one of the Nonprofit Times Power and Influence Top 50. He has been profiled in publications, including Learning from the CEO and Finishing Well. Most recently he was profiled in Stewart Friedman's Wall Street Journal bestselling book Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life.

Tom co-authored the popular organization and strategy book, Aligning the Stars, published in April 2002 by Harvard Business School Press. Additionally, he co-authored with Joel L. Fleishman Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results, published in March 2011 by Public Affairs. In 2012 Tom led the production of Conversations with Remarkable Givers, a groundbreaking, free video series on bridgespan.org of candid conversations with a range of extraordinary philanthropists.

Tom joined Bain & Company in 1980 following graduation from Harvard Business School, where he received his MBA with distinction. He was promoted to partner after three years and from 1987 to 1992 served as the managing director of Bain's San Francisco office. In 1992, while reporting to acting CEO Mitt Romney, he became Bain's president. In 1993, Tom assumed full leadership responsibilities for the firm as Bain's first worldwide managing director. During the 1990s, under his leadership, Bain grew its revenues six-fold, while significantly expanding its international operations. During 2000, he stepped down as Bain & Company's chief executive to concentrate on Bridgespan-related activities.

A native of California, he received his BA in Economics with highest distinction from the University of California at Davis, where he was honored as that year's most outstanding graduate. He served as a field engineer for Bechtel International in North Africa before entering business school.

In 2014 Tom was appointed to the United States Military Academy West Point Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership. He is chairman of eBay, Inc., and also serves on a number of nonprofit boards and advisory groups: director, Global Board of The Nature Conservancy; chairman, Hoover Institution; and chairman, Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative. He is a past director of many other nonprofit organizations, including The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, United Way of the Bay Area, United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the Committee for Economic Development, Catholic Charities, WGBH, and The National Academies.

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“Success ultimately turns on three fundamental characteristics: humanity, humility, and courage. Humanity nurtures empathy, human understanding, caring. Humility enables an open mind to new ideas and realities, grounded in the belief that 'it is not all about me.' Courage propels action, leading one to do the right thing in the right way, no matter how difficult.”

Other Resources

Interviews and Speaking Engagements

Other Items of Note

  • “He has built organizations that encourage personal growth by rewarding results—not 'face time'—and by motivating people with a vision of contributing to a greater good.” What Successful Work and Life Integration Looks Like
  • “[Mr. Tierney] made his third official visit to West Point, and personally mentored 54 cadets ... and 21 faculty members through small group leadership seminars … Mr. Tierney's goal of adding value to West Point and its different populations was achieved over this short two-day visit.” U.S. Military Academy Dean's Weekly Significant Activities Report