Rita Gunther McGrath
Rita Gunther McGrath

American strategic management scholar and professor of management at the Columbia Business School. She is known for her work on strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship, including the development of discovery-driven planning.

McGrath graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College in 1981 and earned a Masters of Public Administration from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University in 1982. In 1993, she completed her Ph.D. at The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) with the dissertation, entitled Developing New Competence in Established Organizations consistent with her longstanding interest in corporate ventures and innovation.

McGrath started her career working in government and the political arena and founded two entrepreneurial startups. After her graduation in 1993, she joined Columbia as assistant professor of management, was promoted to associate professor of management in 1998, and recently became a full professor in the Faculty of Executive Education. In 2014, she was elected Deputy Dean of the Strategic Management Society Fellows.

In 1999, McGrath received the "Best Paper" Academy Of Management Review, in 2001 the Maurice Holland "best paper" award from the Industrial Research Institute, and later the McKinsey 'best paper' award from the Strategic Management Society for McGrath and Nerkar, Real options reasoning and a new look at the R&D strategy of pharmaceutical firms.

In 2009, she was elected fellow of the Strategic Management Society, and in 2013 of the International Academy of Management. In 2013 she also received the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Award in Strategy. She was named one of the top 20 thinkers in 2011, and one of the top 10 thinkers in 2013 by Thinkers50.

In 2019, McGrath was ranked the #5 most influential management thinker in the world by Thinkers50.

McGrath is the bestselling author of five books and is one of the most widely published authors in the Harvard Business Review, including “Discovery Driven Planning” (1995), which was recognized as an early articulation of today’s “lean” startup philosophy and has been cited by Clayton Christensen as “one of the most important ideas in management—ever.” She is the founder of the consulting firm Valize and maintains the weekly newsletter Thought Sparks on LinkedIn.

Keynote Speaker Programs

  • Strategic storytelling: maximum impact in a digital world
  • Leading the agile organization
  • Leading strategic growth and change
  • Digital health strategy: leveraging emerging technologies in healthcare