Power Source: The Specialist

by WL Author

Reginald Van Lee personifies excellence through his professional and philanthropic pursuits.

By Adoria Doucette

CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien, Reginald Van Lee and legendary actress Cicely Tyson (Photo courtesy Brian Killian)

“The greatest improvements in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment, with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.” — Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776

In the year of our nation’s birth, a Scottish philosopher outlined a grand free-market economic theory that among other things emphasized the efficiency in specialization of skills to bring about the best of an economic enterprise. As America grew over the next century, the transition from an agrarian society to an industrial economy rapidly advanced by adopting many of the principles of this theory.

One man in particular would implement specialized talent on a scale never seen before in the world, one that has created hundreds of billions of dollars of economic value, and changed the world of global commerce. During the lead-up to World War I Edwin G. Booz decided to utilize his education in economics and philosophy to provide specialized consulting services to businesses and government projects. His revolutionary idea was that an outside opinion and analysis of business problems and opportunities could provide excellent value, a practice that was unheard of at the time. This was the birth of management consulting. The industry that Booz spawned now employs over 250,000 consultants and has over $390 billion in revenues. Half of all business school students are likely to become management consultants at some point in their careers.

At the cornerstone of the industry is the firm founded by Edwin Booz, Booz Allen Hamilton. Based in McLean, Va., the management consulting company has consistently been one of the most prestigious and influential in both industry and government. With 26,000 employees and over $5 billion in annual revenues, Booz Allen as an organization has played a pivotal role in the evolution of modern business for the last 100 years.

Along with skill specialization, Adam Smith emphasized another key trait that was the key to business success and productivity — character. This quality has driven the leadership of Booz Allen from day one, and Power Source is honored to introduce a key member of the Booz Allen executive team who exemplifies character, integrity and accomplishment on the highest level, Reginald Van Lee.

A graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School, Mr. Van Lee is an executive vice president with Booz Allen and leads the firm’s nonprofit and healthcare divisions. He was declared one of the 25 most influential consultants in the world, and his work has been pivotal in guiding institutions such as St. Jude’s Hospital through transformational change. Even more impressive is Mr. Van Lee’s commitment to community and the cultural development of our nation. His skills have been utilized at the highest levels of government. He is a founding member of President Clinton’s Global Initiative and was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the White House Committee on Arts and the Humanities. Mr. Van Lee is chairman of the Washington Performing Arts Society, a trustee of the MIT Corporation, and sits on the board of directors of the Washington Ballet.

“Reggie Van Lee is one of the finest individuals that I know,” said Wynton Marsalis, a Power Source alumnus and one of Time Magazine’s most influential people.

Trained as an engineer, Mr. Van Lee has leveraged his impeccable character and above-average analytical ability to offer organizations and communities significant value through his participation in worthwhile endeavors. He is respected all over the world for his character and accomplishments — and everyone was in awe when last year he had Diana Ross perform at his star-studded wedding anniversary event attended by over 700 guests at the National Building Museum.

Power Source salutes Mr. Van Lee for his humility, commitment to excellence and the ability to succeed at the height of corporate America, while maintaining the dignity of a true gentleman.

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