Consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. has spent over 90 years helping its clients navigate difficult times, with a long-established record of excellence in crisis management. In recent years, however, the company has been challenged by multiple crises of its own. From a half billion dollar fine arising from its role in the U.S. opioid crisis, to involvement in a wide-ranging South African corruption scandal, the need for top-down change became clear to both the public and its partners, resulting in last year’s ouster of global managing partner Kevin Sneader. The role was taken over by Bob Sternfels in July 2021, and the 27-year McKinsey veteran recently sat down with The Wall Street Journal to discuss his vision for the future.
In the interview, Sternfels described his top priorities in three words: courageous, inclusive, and faster. To help its clients tackle the increasingly uncertain business world of today, the firm is calling upon its partners to have the courage to take bold steps to innovate, building on a foundation of a global partnership model backed by strong accountability and compliance. By investing in sharing perspectives and engaging the views of all partners, the firm hopes to provide the absolute best insights - not just regional insights.
The new leader also described his vision for a fresh, more diverse workforce. Previously, many joined McKinsey immediately after receiving their MBAa, but today new MBAs make up less than a fifth of new hires, with the firm now drawing from over 370 universities, senior hires, and technical talent. Internally, tenure has been downplayed as an approximation of a partner’s skills, with an increased focus on experience and capabilities. Additionally, there has been a shift from evaluating people to developing people, with changes focused on getting people to improve themselves as professionals instead of simply trying to get good evaluations or promotions.
Moving at the speed of modern business is another crucial effort, with the firm’s focus turned to developing models to make decisions and take action more swiftly, enabling clients to keep pace with rapidly changing business environments. Client evaluation and selection is another major priority, with additional emphasis on compliance.
While Sternfels may have his work cut out for him, he has made it clear that he and the rest of the McKinsey team are willing to put in the hard work to make positive changes for the future, ensuring the firm continues its tradition of providing industry-leading consulting services.