Thomas J. Tierney

Chairman and Co-founder

Tom is a recognized leader in serving the nonprofit sector. He 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.
 
From 2014 to 2015 Tom served a two-year term appointment at 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: chairman, Global Board of The Nature Conservancy; chairman, Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative; member, Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors; chairman emeritus, Hoover Institution; and trustee, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 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.
 

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.

Publications

Videos

Effective Philanthropy 


Univ. of Oxford, Rothermere American Institute

05/07/2014 | 43 mins

Effective Philanthropy 


The Bridgespan Group

07/26/2011 | 3 mins

Effective Philanthropy 


California Community Foundation

07/27/2011 | 3.5 mins

We work to build a better world by strengthening the ability of mission-driven organizations and philanthropists to achieve breakthrough results in addressing society’s most important challenges and opportunities.

Bridgespan® and Leading for Impact® are registered trademarks of The Bridgespan Group
The Bridgespan Group is a 501(c)(3) organization.