Adair Turner, 39, becomes the third CBI chief in a row to be drawn from McKinsey, after the current director general Howard Davies and the former chief, Sir John Banham.
Mr Turner, 13 years at the consultants, takes up his pounds 160,000-a-year post on 19 September when Mr Davies becomes deputy governor of the Bank of England.
The CBI made an extensive search for a replacement, putting adverts in the national press and apparently trying hard to get a suitably qualified woman on the six-man shortlist.
Yesterday, the CBI's president, Sir Bryan Nicholson, said: "We agreed unanimously that Mr Turner would be the best person for the job. His wide- ranging experience across many different industries, his international work, and his deep knowledge of business policy and strategy give him the perspective he needs for such an important position."
Mr Turner has a hard act to follow, as his predecessor is widely seen as having raised the CBI's influence on the Government and won the deep respect of the membership.
Born in Ipswich but raised in Scotland, he started his career in BP's strategic planning unit and moved to Chase Manhattan Bank for three years before joining McKinsey in 1982. He was made a director last year, and has recently been responsible for the development of McKinsey's banking practice in eastern Europe. The CBI rejected suggestions that this was a narrow curriculum vitae, saying it was often businessmen who had a narrow outlook, while consultants dealt with diverse companies and issues.
Mr Turner, married with two children, was not forthcoming on policy issues, his most controversial remark at an inaugural press conference being that: "A single currency could be beneficial on the right terms, and harmful on the wrong terms."
Archie Norman, chief executive of Asda and a former McKinsey director, said: "Davies and Banham were practised communicators, whereas Adair's strength is that he is a more profound thinker. He will be less visible, but quietly influential."Reuse content