In a year of strategy-firm
milestones (BCG turns 50;
Bain: 40), the grandfather of
them all celebrates its 87th
birthday. James O. McKinsey
founded his eponymous firm
to provide finance and budgeting services to companies
and soon discovered that
clients wanted he, and his growing team, to
help them solve their thorniest and most important business problems. David Court, a
Senior Partner in McKinsey’s Dallas office and
leader of the firm’s functional practices, confirms that his firm remains committed to solving big, thorny problems even as the nature of
those problems, and the ways the firm ad-dresses them, continue to evolve.
Consulting: What are some of the most important
conditions and situations that define the state of
strategy consulting today?
Court: The economic crisis created new and sustained
challenges for businesses around the world. Today,
there is continuing volatility, uncertainty and complex-
ity that we and our clients are facing. In many coun-
tries, the government took on an increased role in the
local and global economy. We have also seen disrup-
tions in global economic growth and continue to wit-
ness the move of the world’s economic center of
gravity away from the Western economies. The growth
of the consuming class in emerging markets is one of
the biggest economic shifts ever and it will require
companies to change their ways of doing business. By
2025, more than half of the world’s population will have
joined the consuming classes, driving annual con-
sumption in emerging markets to $30 trillion. Yet the
largest companies headquartered in developed
economies derive only 17 percent of their revenues
from emerging markets, even though these markets
represent 36 percent of global GDP. This is just one ex-
ample of the types of complex and always changing
challenges that our clients face.
Consulting: What are some of the most notable
ways strategy consulting has changed or evolved
in the past decade? (i.e., how does strategy consulting operate in 2013, compared to how it existed
in 2003 or even 1993?)
Court: McKinsey has been much broader than strategy for a while. We advise leading organizations across
the public, private and non-profit sectors, on all the
functional topics leaders care about – not just strategy.
For many years, a growing share of our work had been
around operational effectiveness and organizational redesign, reflecting the changing needs of our clients.
Strategy engagements represented about 30 percent
of our firm in recent years, while engagements in operations and organization represented about 25 percent
and about 10 percent respectively. The strategy work
we do has also changed to become more global and
based more on interaction between industries, and the
interlinkage between business, society and government. We believe we have the scope, scale and capability to create lasting impact for the world’s largest,
most complex institutions. McKinsey is truly global.
Not just in our office footprint but in our population and
in our diverse global collaboration model.
Consulting: How have the skill sets and leadership
capabilities that define successful strategy consultants changed in recent years?
Court: For more than two decades, we’ve been shifting
away from recruiting mostly MBAs. All other degrees
combined (PhDs, JDs, MDs, and other advanced degrees) represent a bigger share of the incoming class
than MBAs. About 25 percent of our recruits have functional expertise. We also recruit a growing share of experienced hires and we expect this trend to continue in
the coming years. What we look for in candidates has
remained quite consistent throughout the years. While