Chicago may be known as the “City That Works,” but that’s because the county — Cook County that is — works. In this day and age, reform (especially of the fiscal kind) is often lauded as the platform for any political campaign, so it was a no-brainer for newly elected Cook County President, Toni Preckwinkle, to enlist rising wunderkind, Kurt A. Summers, to ensure a streamlined government for the second largest county in the U.S.
Summers initially began his career as a strategy consultant and later joined Goldman Sachs & Co. working in both investment banking and leveraged finance. The Harvard Business School grad reflects on how his unusual trajectory is what he always wanted. “When I wrote my business school essays in 2002, I said that I wanted to weave an elegant tapestry between the public and private sectors, lending best practices from each to make the other better,” he says. “My career has followed that path, but it’s been more about unforeseen opportunities than by design. I left the private sector to work for [Cook County] President [Toni] Preckwinkle because I thought this would be an amazing, once-in-a-generation type of opportunity to truly change a unit in government that sorely needed it.”