About McKinsey & Company Asia

The McKinsey mystique

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 more than 80 percent of Fortune's Most Admired Companies list, roughly 90 percent of the top-100 corporations worldwide and 80 percent of the 100 largest U.S.-based companies. On the public/social sector side, meanwhile, the firm has served 30 governments in OECD countries and some 60 governments in developing nations in the past five years-not to mention five 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. Launched in 2012, the center brings together McKinsey's practitioners and external experts in an attempt to put their knowledge and tools in the hands of public institutions seeking to tackle issues such as employment, health care and innovation.

The early days

In 1926, James O. McKinsey, CPA and University of Chicago management 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 business 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 the type of projects the firm takes on increasingly call for highly specialized skill sets. Accordingly, fewer than half of the firm's current consultants hold an MBA degree. Around 50 percent do have other advanced degrees-JDs, MDs and PhDs are just as likely to be found wandering the McKinsey halls as B-school grads.

However, the backbone of the firm's operations continues to be built around business generalists; accordingly, most McKinsey consultants start out as generalists.

The firm's business analyst track is specifically structured to help Common options include a transfer to a McKinsey office in a different country, the ability to choose 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), to accept firm sponsorship to return to school, or simply to continue 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, meanwhile, tend to have a better-than-average chance of finding success. Around a quarter of the firm's 25,000 former consultants have gone on to found their own businesses, while some 200-plus ex-McKinseyites currently serve as CEO of firms with revenues in excess of $1 billion.

Without a home

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-consultants can easily transfer to international offices for short or long-term engagements, while also enjoying access to the expertise and insight of 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 business journal and platform for expounding on issues of management, strategy and finance.  The publication also includes articles by external experts.  And the firm recently launched a blog-Voices on Society-which covers topics related to global society, featuring essays by world experts, as well as its own consultants.

Internally, the firm operates a knowledge network, with some 1,500 "knowledge experts" ready to support consultants on client engagements, as well as to codify and develop knowledge expertise.

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 MGI staff, as well as McKinsey consultants serving assignment of up to one year, after which they return to client work. All of that is overseen by three senior partners, each of whom also actively serves clients.                                                                     

Social betterment

Throughout its history, McKinsey's partners and staff have been engaged in their local communities in a variety of ways. Most offices invest in pro bono projects locally and many consultants serve on non-profit boards. Since 2007, the firm has formalized its commitment to affect change in society under the umbrella of its Social Sector Office and become increasingly active in serving important - often global - social sector institutions with a focus on public health, education, economic development, social innovation and sustainability.

Sample engagements include: supporting post-disaster reconstruction efforts in Aceh and Haiti; conducting numerous public health projects in Africa and Southeast Asia; transforming education systems by partnering with clients to identify how education providers, employers, governments and foundations can work together to address student readiness for the labor market; designing strategies to build human capital in systems and institutions and align incentives and supports around improving performance; leading strategic planning efforts to scale education innovations such as technology for student learning; and improving access to financial services such as banking in Latin America.

The firm actively disseminates its knowledge and perspectives on the social sector through its website, mckinseyonsociety.com and social media, @McKinseySociety.

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McKinsey & Company Asia

55 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022
Phone: +1-212-446-7000
Fax: +1-212-446-8575


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Global Managing Director: Dominic Barton
  • 2012 Employees: 17,500

  • Major Departments & Practices
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Major Office Locations

  • New York, NY

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