For A McKinseyite, A New Right Turn

The newly appointed Dean of Johns Hopkins Carey Business School views his deanship as another right turn in an unusual professional career that moved from the operating room of hospitals to the boardrooms of some of the largest corporations in the world. Now, “Bernie” Ferrari is moving into academia as a B-school dean.

“For some people, right turns in careers present exciting opportunities and renewal,” Ferrari said in an interview with Poets&Quants. “I was a surgeon for 15 years and at McKinsey for 20 before running my own consulting firm for three years. So I haven’t danced through a number of careers but found things that were extraordinarily exciting to me. I’m fortunate enough to find another opportunity where I can have impact and help change some lives.”

Ferrari, whose appointment to Carey becomes effective July 1, says he will immediately work on three core issues as dean. He said he wants to “create an environment where people can build new knowledge and come up with new ideas; develop new leaders; and allow collaboration across disciplines with ease.”

He intends to devote a good deal of his time to encouraging and supporting more collaboration across the university’s ten schools from medicine to science. “I’ve been on the board of the Juilliard School for ten years and I’ve watched a lot of orchestras perform,” Ferrari said. “Each musician practices his part. But when it all comes together, they all play to a common purpose and rhythm. How they blend together makes the sum greater than the parts. They inspire each other and create beautiful music at the same time. If you can break people out of those silos and allow them to see the magic that occurs, it can be quite extraordinary.”


The former surgeon and consultant succeeds Interim Dean Phillip Phan who has run the school since the abrupt resignation last June of Carey’s first dean, Yash P. Gupta. Gupta, former dean of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School, left before Carey graduated its first crop of full-time MBAs. His sudden departure occurred amidst disclosures that he had been actively searching for several other university jobs while Carey dean.

Ferrari began his career as a surgeon. He was chief operating officer and assistant medical director of the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, having served as vice chairman of the Department of Colon and Rectal Surgery. He made a transition to consulting with McKinsey & Co. where he spent nearly two decades as a partner and senior healthcare consultant. In addition to his leadership of McKinsey’s health care practice, he also did a stint as the leader of its North American corporate strategy practice. After retiring from McKinsey in 2008, Ferrari founded the Ferrari Consultancy, where he currently serves as chairman. The consultancy served clients in the financial services, transportation, energy, medical products, aviation and heavy equipment manufacturing sectors, and consults with clients on their business strategies.