Edwin George “Ed” Booz was born in 1889, the son of a factory timekeeper. He attended Northwestern University, where he earned degrees in economics and psychology. While a student, Booz became a protégé of Walter Dill Scott, a professor who was one of the pioneering management academics of his time. The mentorship was influential in shaping Booz’s career trajectory.
After graduating from Northwestern in 1914, Booz launched his own company called the Business Research Service with $500 borrowed from a bank. Led by a fascination with people, his early assignments included helping clients find competent executives, office space, and customers. But his métier was in-depth consulting, or what he called “taking the measure” of a business problem, and he regularly published articles about business practice based on survey results. His reputation soon grew as someone who could help a corporate leader take a step back and gain perspective on the turbulent issues of his business. But client turnover was frequent, so Booz eventually recruited three partners—George Fry, Jim Allen, and Carl Hamilton—who had the requisite skill to build a sustainable enterprise.
The late 1930s and early 40s were relatively easy for Ed Booz. He mentored younger partners and wrote down aphorisms about life and work, which became known around the office as “Boozisms." World War II launched the public-sector consulting business, and Booz witnessed the rapid growth of what had become Booz, Allen & Hamilton. He remained engaged in the firm—as well as an engaging personality—until his death from a stroke in 1951.