Athol Williams leaves Bain just six months after joining

22 October 2019 2 min. read
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Instability lingers at Bain & Company’s South Africa operations, most recently indicated by the abrupt departure of Management Consultant Athol Williams. The move was announced publicly before it was announced to the company itself, and comes just months after Williams was first appointed to the outfit.

Williams holds a Masters from the London School of Economics and a PhD from Oxford in Business Ethics and Corporate Responsibility. He was brought on board to help tighten corporate practices at the global management consultancy’s South African outfit. Bain South Africa has been in a world of trouble recently, following a state capture scandal involving the South African Revenue Services (SARS).

In the wake of the scandal, the firm required an experienced hand to bring a degree of stability and re-examine its processes. Bain developed a remedy plan to pave its way back, and Williams was put in charge of the plan’s implementation, in addition to being put on the Africa Oversight Board.

Williams not only joined a firm that was under scrutiny and losing a stream of business, but also entered a consulting sector that has been driven into considerable disrepute via a number of scandals recently. His wealth of experience made him a suitable candidate for the job.

Athol Williams

Having begun at Rio Tinto and made his way up to Business Development Executive, Williams left the firm for Old Mutual, where he worked on and off for a number of years as Director for Group Strategy. He has been a Partner at Bain & Company’s Boston, New York, London and Johannesburg outfits on and off between 1996 and 2010.

He now leaves at what are being described as unfavourable terms, given the circumstances surrounding the departure. He join only in May this year, and has now quit without informing the firm itself. Speaking to Business Maverick, Williams indicated his reasons for departing.

“I believe that Bain is withholding information about the restructuring of SARS and not being truthful about what it did in South Africa. Bain knows more than what they have told the public. I really believed that Bain wanted to do the right thing when they hired me to develop ideas for remedy and developing a proper plan. I thought they were serious and were going to do the right thing,” he said.

“Then I was hired. I got in the company and I got to ask questions and they were uncomfortable with the questions I asked. I am not getting the answers and it made me uncomfortable,” he added.