Michael Fairbanks is Chairman Emeritus and founder of The OTF Group, a software and strategy consulting firm based in Boston. It is the first Venture-backed US firm to focus on developing nations. Mr. Fairbanks was a US Peace Corps teacher in Kenya, a Wall Street Banker and has, over a twenty year career, advised scores of Presidents, cabinet members and CEOs in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia on business strategy and export competitiveness. Mr. Fairbanks is now involved with The S.E.VEN Fund.
His projects have included working for the President of Rwanda to improve the prosperity of all Rwandan citizens by increasing the competitiveness of that nation’s tourism, coffee and agro-industry sectors; and advising the Minister of Finance of Afghanistan on private sector reforms. He co-authored Harvard Business School’s landmark book on business strategy in emerging markets, entitled Plowing the Sea, Nurturing the Hidden Sources of Advantage in Developing Nations, with a forward by Michael Porter. Business Week Magazine said, “Plowing the Sea points the way toward creating prosperity in developing nations”, the Boston Globe named it one of the ten best books of the year in Politics and Economics, and Exame magazine, Brazil’s leading business weekly, called it one of the ten best books of the decade. He co-conceived and contributed to the global best selling book Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, with Sam Huntington and Larry Harrison at Harvard. His next book, edited with Malik Fal and Marcela Escobari-Rose, contains essays by OTF colleagues from around the world. It is entitled In the River They Swim: Essays on Private Sector Development.
His work has been translated into a dozen languages including Korean, Mongolian, and Serbian. He was a visiting fellow at the Hoover institute at Stanford, a lecturer at Harvard, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. He has degrees in Philosophy and Biochemistry from the University of Scranton, a Jesuit University in Pennsylvania, and African Politics from Columbia University in New York City. He served on the Commission on Globalization with, among others, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jane Goodall, and Joe Stiglitz; advised the Private Sector Commission at the United Nations; and FORTUNE Magazine named him one of the 150 Smartest People in the World.