1. Parag Khanna

As Founder of not one but two premium consultancies-- Hybrid Reality and  Factotum--Parag Khanna has traveled to every continent to meet with many of the world's most prominent thinkers, statesmen, and leaders. In the process, he has come to the conclusion that the single most important factor in determining success in the upcoming decades will be the degree to which people and organizations embrace connectivity. In addition to being the central thread that runs through his work, this is also the topic of his latest book Connectivity: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization, which is regularly showing up on the desks of State Department officials and forward thinking entrepreneurs alike as part of their quest to gain a decisive advantage in the new world order.

2. Erin Hersey

At ?WhatIf! Innovation, consultants are called "inventors." When it comes to Erin Hersey, this description is especially apropos. By pursuing diverse interests, including, art, education, technology, and business during the early part of her career, Hersey eventually found herself drawn to innovation consulting because it calls on her to make use of all of the above. Since then, Hersey has become the go-to name in bringing together multiple strands of creative thought into elegant systems that solve some the most complex problems that organizations face.

3. Julie McBride

After working in the nonprofit space for many years, Julie McBride became increasingly persuaded by the concept that it is the profit motive that has the most potential to drive social impact. With this in mind, she began an obsessive search for the most effective vehicle for making this happen. She found her answer in the least likely of areas...franchising. Joining forces with the legacy franchise consulting firm MSA Worldwide, she began to apply the turnkey solutions most commonly associated with fast food, convenience stores, and sales coaching to third-world medical care. The results have been astounding--both in terms of financial returns and lives saved.

4. Elizabeth Pastor

As a graduate student in the 1990s, Elizabeth Pastor came across an idea for a conference that seemed interesting and volunteered to help out. The conference was called  TED. It wasn't long before Pastor found herself smack dab in the middle of the intersection between technology, entertainment, and design and she hasn't left it since. Today, as Co-founder of Humantific, she works with organizations such as BBC, Vodafone, the City of Austin, Wells Fargo, Pfizer, Ford Foundation, UNICEF, Gates Foundation, and, Markets For Good  to help them make sense of their place in our present multidisciplinary reality.

5. Cristiane Bourbonnais

In an age in which anyone with a laptop and Adobe Software Suite can start a business, the term "branding consultant" can be hard to pin down. Yet Cristiane Bourbonnais, the Montreal-based founder of boutique brand consultancy Cohesion, is anything but your standard graphic designer. Working with the agency SID LEE (Cirque du Soleil's agency of record), Bourbonnais and team completely reinvented the perception of Montreal's public transport system, effectively transforming the commuting habits of a major world city in the process.