McKinsey & Company at a Glance


  • "The people, the global impact, the opportunities available."
  • "Scale of resources and impact; amazing colleagues."
  • "Prestige, people, clients, exit opportunities."


  • "A lot of travel."
  • "It's a true commitment."
  • "Drive to excellence can be grueling, but it's what clients expect."

The Buzz

  • "Launch pad for everyone important."
  • "Harvard of consulting."
  • "Selfish culture."
  • "Intense, competitive."

About McKinsey & Company

McKinsey & Company is a privately owned management consulting firm. Roundly considered to be the most prestigious company of its kind, it has achieved a level of renown so great as to be known even to laymen, despite shrouding details of its work-and its client list-in secrecy. In its practice areas, it addresses strategic, organizational, operational and technological issues, always with a focus-according to the firm-of doing what is right for the client's business, not what is best for McKinsey's bottom line. As for the range of those specialties, the list of industrial sectors the firm serves encompasses everything from commodities and natural resources to the worlds of media, entertainment and high tech. While it doesn't give up the names of its clients, the firm does claim to serve roughly 90 of the top-100 corporations worldwide and more than 80 of the 100 largest U.S.-based companies. On the public/social sector side, meanwhile, the firm has served 30 governments in OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries and more than 45 governments in developing nations in the past five years-not to mention seven out of the ten largest foundations in the U.S. 

In addition to its regular consulting brief, the firm also regularly creates new initiatives that both utilize the unique capabilities the firm has at its disposal, as well as serving to bolster McKinsey's reputation for tackling the biggest problems around. One such example of this is the McKinsey Center for Government. The McKinsey Center for Government (MCG) is a global hub for research, collaboration, and innovation in government performance. Drawing on external experts and McKinsey practitioners, MCG provides governments with new and proven knowledge and tools to confront critical challenges and opportunities. MCG connects government leaders to learn from one another to deliver value for citizens they serve. 

The early days

In 1926, James O. McKinsey, CPA and University of Chicago accounting professor, founded the business to give local companies financial and accounting advice. Before long, he realized that clients' financial data could be interpreted to help make better management decisions. Thanks to this innovation, McKinsey is credited with the idea of using consultants, or "management engineers" for the first time. And although the firm is his namesake, it was one of his protégés, Marvin Bower, who is most remembered for shaping the direction of the firm. 

Most notably, Bower is known for molding the McKinsey culture, mainly through a three-part code of conduct outlining certain ideals consultants were to uphold-something that remains in place today. Among these values are putting client interests ahead of those of the firm, giving superior service and maintaining the highest ethical standards. Consultants are also instructed to be absolutely truthful with the client, regardless of whether the client disagrees. Perhaps the most infamous part of the code is to protect the privacy of clients; to this day, McKinsey never publicizes its big-name clients, nor does it tout successful engagements. Despite this, the firm doesn't lack for publicity, since the secrecy surrounding its work is itself often the focus of media attention. 

Degrees of success

Another of Bower's policies was to concentrate hiring efforts on recent MBAs from top schools, as opposed to bringing on experienced managers from other organizations-an approach that broke new ground when instituted in the 1930s and 40s. Over the next couple of decades, the firm developed a reputation as being the MBA employer of choice. While that reputation still persists in some quarters, it has failed to reflect the realities of the firm's composition for at least the past couple of decades. Not because MBA students no longer want to work for the firm-they continue to apply in droves every recruiting season-but because McKinsey seeks exceptional people, regardless of where that talent may be, so the firm has hired more and more people with other advanced degrees. JDs, MDs and PhDs are just as likely to be found wandering the McKinsey halls as B-school grads. As McKinsey's client needs have evolved, it has also begun to hire more specialized and experienced profiles such as people with change management expertise or digital design and development experience. 

However, business generalists continue to be the backbone of the firm's operations; accordingly, most McKinsey consultants start out without a specialty. 

The firm's business analyst track is specifically structured to help undergraduates develop business skills and knowledge before making their next career move. Common options that BAs pursue after their initial two years with McKinsey include transferring to a McKinsey office in a different country, choosing a career path within the firm that interests the individual (examples include delving into a global health project or concentrating on marketing and sales topics), accepting firm sponsorship to return to school, or simply continuing along the path to partnership, as grad school is not a requirement for advancement at the firm. 

Those that choose to move beyond the firm-regardless of their tenure when they depart-tend to have a better-than-average chance of finding success. Over a quarter of the firm's more than 30,000 former consultants have gone on to found their own businesses, while more than 400 ex-McKinseyites currently serve as CEOs of organizations with revenues in excess of $1 billion. Many McKinsey alumni also take on leadership roles in government or in the social sector. 

One-firm partnership

As a single, global entity, McKinsey has no headquarters office. Instead, the firm operates what it calls a "one-firm" partnership model, with offices across the world sharing values and cultural norms. That setup allows the firm to assemble teams to serve clients regardless of geographical concerns. Although consultants are attached to a particular office, they work with colleagues from multiple locations and often choose to transfer to international offices for engagements or for the long term. According to the firm, this model grounds consultants in a close-knit office community, while providing access to a global network of colleagues. 

Knowledge factory

McKinsey experts frequently produce works of business scholarship, whether in the form of reports and studies, or in the pages of the McKinsey Quarterly, the firm's 50-year-old business journal and platform for expounding on issues of management, strategy and finance. The publication also includes articles by external experts. The firm also launched a blog-Voices on Society-which covers topics related to global society, featuring essays by world experts, as well as its own consultants, and McKinsey Insights offers many publications digitally via an app for your iOS or Android device.

McKinsey also operates a knowledge network that is unique among competitors. Its 1,800+ knowledge professionals deliver capabilities that range from advanced research and analytics to deep expertise in functions, industries and geographies. They operate as an integral part of client teams through a combination of onsite and remote involvement, and play critical roles in developing new knowledge and building proprietary knowledge assets. 

Additionally, the firm operates the McKinsey Global Institute, a research group concentrating on critical economic trends around the world. All MGI studies are funded by McKinsey, rather than any outside business, government or other entity. Its research is conducted by dedicated staff, as well as McKinsey consultants serving on assignments of up to one year (after which they return to client work). 

As part of the firm's focus on knowledge, McKinsey joined with the Financial Times to sponsor an award, the Bracken Bower Prize, to honor the best business book of the year. Judges include academics, authors and business people like Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn. The Bracken Bower Prize is named after Brendan Bracken, chairman of the FT from 1945 to 1958, and Marvin Bower, managing director of McKinsey from 1950 to 1967, who were instrumental in laying the foundation of the two institutions. The prize encourages young writers and researchers to identify and analyze the business trends of the future and opportunities for growth.                                                             

Social betterment

The firm is committed to social impact, and uses its intellectual, financial and convening power to help address some of the world's most pressing problems. This is done through McKinsey's work with private, public and social sector organizations, through investments in research on topics such as education, and through extensive pro bono and volunteer work. The firm draws on functional and industry expertise to support organizations that are seeking to tackle the toughest societal challenges. Each year, McKinsey helps leading foundations, nonprofits, and multilateral institutions address issues such as disease, poverty, climate change, and natural disasters.

For example, the Generation program focuses on making a contribution to reducing the high rate of youth unemployment-some 75 million young people around the world are out of work and three times as many are underemployed. The Generation program works to help close the skills gap-identifying jobs and providing cutting-edge training, job placements, and support. Generation is a program of the McKinsey Social Initiative, the firm's non-profit organization built to develop innovative approaches to complex social challenges.

The firm also invests to advance an understanding of sustainability and resource productivity issues, including carbon abatement; the economics of strategic resources such as water, land, energy, and materials; and the circular economy. McKinsey aims to lay out the challenges for sustainable growth and climate resilience, and propose pathways for transformational change. 

The firm actively disseminates its knowledge and perspectives on the social sector through its website, and on Twitter through @McKinseySociety


June 2015 

Landing LUNAR.  The award winning design firm adds a new dimension to McKinsey's product development practice and growing capabilities in digital design. 

Today McKinsey is the world's leading product development advisory firm. The recent acquisition of design firm LUNAR adds a final, critical component to this thriving practice area.  "Until now we couldn't help clients with design execution," says Derrick Kiker, a McKinsey partner who led the acquisition. "Bringing together top design, engineering, and business thinking in one holistic approach is going to be very powerful." Read more. 

May 2015 

No ordinary business book. No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All The Trends 

A book by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) directors Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan Woetzel surveys powerful forces that are transforming the global economy, and argues that we all need to reset the intuitions and assumptions that drive our decision-making on everything from corporate strategy to personal investment.  The book focuses on four major disruptions: the industrialization and urbanization of emerging economies; the accelerating pace of technological change; the demography of aging populations and declining fertility rates; and increasing global interconnectivity. Each of these trends is larger than any disruption the global economy has ever experienced. Yet all four are hitting at the same time-creating second-, third-, and even fourth-order effects that are scarcely possible to anticipate.  Read more.

April 2015 

New book explains how to create an effective cybersecurity program that makes rapid and sustained progress. 

If private and public organizations are to survive the ongoing cyber-attacks that put their information assets and online processes at risk, they must build effective cybersecurity into their business and IT processes.  Beyond Cybersecurity offers a hands-on guide that includes the practical steps institutions can take to achieve digital resilience and protect against cyber-attacks while creating value from technology investments and innovation.  Written by McKinsey consultants James Kaplan, Tucker Bailey, Derek O'Halloran, Alan Marcus, and Chris Rezek, Beyond Cybersecurity explores how to maintain the security of our identities and ideas in an age when information is more available and more vulnerable than ever before.  Read more

February 2015 

Research from McKinsey Global Institute on powering Africa 

Written by McKinsey's Antonio Castellano, Adam Kendall, Mikhail Nikomarov, and Tarryn Swemmer, this report describes how the power sector in sub-Saharan Africa offers a unique combination of transformative potential and attractive investment opportunity. The region's power sector is significantly underdeveloped, whether we look at energy access, installed capacity, or overall consumption. The fact that sub-Saharan Africa's residential and industrial sectors suffer electricity shortages means that countries struggle to sustain GDP growth. The stakes are enormous. Indeed, fulfilling the economic and social promise of the region, and Africa in general, depends on the ability of government and investors to develop the continent's huge electricity capacity.  Read more. 

March 2014 

New book argues the business world is fast approaching a shortage of valuable natural resources
Enormous growth in developing cities is going to create an unprecedented demand for oil, gas, steel, precious metals, water and other precious resources. If we keep on our current course of consumption, commodity prices, food prices and pollution levels are likely to spike, greatly increasing risks for businesses. In their insightful book, "Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century," McKinsey's Matt Rogers and Stanford Professor Stefan Heck lay out a compelling road map for how managers need to change the way they think about resources if they want to not only survive but also thrive in the 21st Century. Read more

January 2014 

New book reflects on how global companies can succeed in India
In "Reimagining India: Unlocking the Potential of Asia's Next Superpower" McKinsey brings together leading thinkers from around the world to explore and debate the challenges and opportunities facing the country. As the foreword notes, "While McKinsey consultants have contributed a few essays to this volume, 'Reimagining India' is not the product of a McKinsey study; neither is it meant as a 'white paper' nor coherent set of policy proposals. Rather, our aim was to create a platform for others to engage in an open, free-wheeling debate about India's future." Read more.

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McKinsey & Company

55 East 52nd Street
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Phone: (212) 446-7000
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