Mitt Romney’s business career is not the classic Horatio Alger story of a disadvantaged lad pulling himself up by the bootstraps to the highest pinnacle of capitalism. Graduates of Harvard–like Mitt Romney–don’t need bootstraps. But his is an impressive journey. (Lisa Turner and Kimberly Field, Mitt Romney:: The Man, His Values and His Mission, Mapletree Publishing Company, p. 19 ).
Mitt, a Harvard-bred prodigy in business, landed a position with Bain Consulting in 1978. Applying the painstaking discipline he’d acquired over the years and while in the top 5th of his MBA class (while simultaneously getting a law degree), he ruminated over numbers and potential investments. Since each partner in Bain had complete veto power, the process of selecting investments was a rigorous one. But Mitt’s caution and deliberate management style paid off when Bain purchased a Staples store for $650,000, ending up with a chain worth $18 billion.
In 1984, he raised mega-dollars (30 million) to form Bain Capital, the venture capital spinoff, which currently has assets over 40 billion. In 1991, he was called back to rescue Bain from financial disaster:
[Mitt] accepted the challenge, then assembled the partners and demanded unanimous support for his leadership and a commitment they would stay for a full year. All but one agreed. Romney restructured the massive debt, slashed expenses, and made difficult decisions about who to keep and who to let go. Romney kept the firm’s mission in mind. The partners met in grueling Saturday sessions so employees could serve clients during the week and not have to work in the shadow of closed-door meetings involving their future.
Within two years, Bain Consulting returned to a solid footing and remains a top consulting company today.
Of Mitt, says Fraser Bullock, a former Bain partner who worked with Romney on the Olympics: “He’s not an ideologue. He makes decisions based on researching data more deeply than anyone I know. As people get to know him better, they’ll see an extremely competent, strong leader.” It’s true. Mitt is known for his fixation with data, disparagement of waste, and diligent digging until he finds a working solution to a vexing problem.
In Mitt’s own words:
My ten years in consulting and my sixteen years in venture capital and private equity taught me that there are answers in numbers. Pile the budgets on my desk and let me wallow. Numbers can help solve a mystery. I discover trends, form hypotheses, most of which fail but lead to others that are more fruitful. Almost without exception, I learn something that is key to the success of the enterprise (Turnaround, Regnery Publishing Inc, Washington DC).
And that’s . . . more of Mitt Romney.