Alexander de Croo: from BCG to Belgium's Prime Minister

26 October 2020 Consultancy.eu

Former Boston Consulting Group professional Alexander de Croo has been appointed the Prime Minister of Belgium. The move comes after two years of political and economic impasse, and sees De Croo tasked with dealing with a spiralling coronavirus infection rate.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is one of the world’s most prestigious consulting firms. A member of the MBB trio at the top of the strategy consulting industry, the firm boasts a number of high profile alumni, including the founders of rival firms such as Bain & Company (Bill Bain) and Roland Berger (namesake Roland Berger), celebrities like John Legend, and even a number of political heavyweights, such as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ascending to the office of Belgium’s Prime Minister, Alexander de Croo has become the latest BCG alumni to take a leading position in the political landscape. The son of well-known Belgian politician Herman de Croo, who was a member of the Flemish Parliament until last year’s elections, Alexander de Croo was reportedly initially keen to distance himself from his father’s career.

Having originally trained as an engineer in 1998 at the Solvay Business School and at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, De Croo joined Boston Consulting Group following his studies. He went on to become a Project Leader in 2004, before leaving to start his own company, Darts-ip two years later.

Alexander de Croo

De Croo initially became involved with the Belgian political party Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten (Open VLD), of which he was became President in 2009, succeeding former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. It was considered a remarkable feat at the time, as he had almost no previous experience as a politician – and he held the position until 2012. Over the next eight years, De Croo would go on to serve in the governments of Elio Di Rupo, Charles Michel, and Sophie Wilmès as a Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium.

Belgium has had a caretaker government since former Prime Minister Michel’s four-party coalition collapsed – as Flemish nationalists quit in protest at a UN migration pact – and inconclusive elections were held. Sophie Wilmès, the first female Prime Minister in Belgium’s history, has been overseeing the running of things through the coronavirus crisis – and even though it held a Parliamentary minority, it still held emergency powers which allowed it to respond to crises through 2020.

Under the caretaker administration, De Croo oversaw a financial stimulus package to tackle the Covid-19 crisis and a deal to save Brussels Airlines.

The creation of the De Croo led Government was formalised 1 October 2020, 494 days after the 2019 Belgian federal election of May 2019. The De Croo Government is another so-called Vivaldi coalition, named after composer Antonio Vivaldi due to his work The Four Seasons, which corresponds to the four different political views present in this coalition: the liberals (Open Vld and MR), the socialists (sp.a and PS), the greens (Groen and Ecolo) and the Christian democrats of CD&V. Wilmès has joined the new De Croo government as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

De Croo also leads Belgium’s National Security Council, which is responsible for handling the country’s response to the coronavirus. He takes the helm as the outgoing administration faces increasing criticism for its recent decision to relax coronavirus rules amid a rising number of infections. The impact of the crisis on the Belgian economy has also been considerable, exacerbated by the fact that Belgium’s complex Parliament has been unable to pass a proper budget for years because of a sustained political crisis.

MBB heavyweights in politics

Beyond BCG, the other members of the MBB also boast an impressive roster of political alumni. In the Netherlands, ex-McKinsey & Company partner Wopke Hoekstra is Minister of Finance, while in Belgium, Thomas Dermine, a former Consultant in the Brussels office of McKinsey, has been appointed Secretary of State for Recovery and Science Policy by De Croo.

Further afield, stateside, Mitt Romney is perhaps the most famous political alumni of the MBB, with the former Bain & Company executive currently a Senator in Utah, having been the Governor of Massachusetts and former Republican Presidential Candidate in the US general election.