Management Consulting McKinsey Organization - How Is It Organized As A Company?

"You can’t fall in love with someone without fully acknowledging his/her inner self. The same principle applies to your McKinsey career: Your effort would not be complete without a comprehensive understanding of McKinsey organization. In this article, I will give you a detailed overview of how McKinsey is organized as a company. Now, let’s get started!"

What Is McKinsey,

McKinsey is a network of various subsidiary companies. They support each other and agree to stay under one roof and play a common set of rules. 

There are three types of entities: office, project and support center. 

The main goal of the office unit is to hire and develop consultants then lend them to the project unit for profit. The consultants are booked based on their performance. The higher the performance, the often one gets booked. 

The hiring fees are experience-based. Rookie consultants are free of charge for the first three months. McKinsey considers this as the training fee that offices have to invest for projects to “bare” all of the mistakes those consultants will for sure make. Their rate quickly escalates after those three months. The office also provides a physical platform for projects and consultant to base, visit, or use facility support.

The goal of the support center is to share the workload and help consultant to focus on their tasks. 

The Research & knowledge centers (R&K) is for finding and analyzing data. There are generally three types of R&K center. 

The Industry Specialists focus on industrial products such as cement production, retail center, etc… Their everyday task is to update and expand their data-based and be ready for requests from projects around the world. 

The Function Specialists composes of operation centers, implementation, finance centers, sales and marketing centers, etc… these Function Centers work every day to enhance their knowledge and data on their area, waiting to support project teams. 

Lastly, Local Specialists. These centers on the other hand know extensively about their location. They have a vast network of important local contacts: local experts, agencies, or even the government.

In addition to the R&K Center, we have the Miscellaneous Centers which assist the consultant with workflow. The Design Centers is mainly in charge of PowerPoint graphics, the Writing Center in charge of composing documents and the Spreadsheet Centers work on excel modeling. 

How Does One Entity

As for projects, this happens almost daily at McKinsey across the globe. Wherever there is a client in need, there can be a project.

For an office to get established, there are more conditions to be met.

  • A director or senior partner proposes a new office opening.
  • The region has to be proven with sky high potential, a track record of several successful projects.
  • Approved by a higher leadership board - which consists of well-respected Directors in the region.

While an office opening means expansion in geography, it’s much more interesting every time a new support center is established. It is usually a move in response to the ever-changing market trends and conditions.


There are a number of different tracks available within the firm.

The most traditional one is the “consultant” track, recruiting fresh talents, regardless of background majors, straight from colleges:

Undergraduate talents would enter the firm as Business Analysts rank (entry level consulting jobs)

Interns enter the firms as “Consultant Analyst”, or CA

Candidates with MBA degrees would enter as “Associates”

Once in the firm, each consulting work up the rank to: Engagement Manager, or “EM”; then “Associate Partner”, or AP; then “Partners”; then “Directors”

Each candidate has two years to advance to the next level. Failure to meet the deadline will result in being fired from the firm.

All projects typically hire people from within the firm, both consultants and supporting casts.

So one can imagine McKinsey hierarchy as a Pyramid structure. There are fewer and fewer people on the higher levels. The qualification bar is maintained standard throughout all offices across the globe. Any EM for example from anywhere in the world has to meet the same bar.

In this traditional track, it is extremely rare for McKinsey to hire experienced consultants straight into the higher levels. Each of their leaders has to work his / her way up the McKinsey career ladder from the lower rank. More about this on future videos.

However, the Support Centers go out and hunt for the best people from various backgrounds based on their own philosophy. The Firm doesn’t impose any fixed standards or restrictions on how centers do this.

This system has been running for the last 50 years, resulting in incredibly strong culture and way of life. 

However, in the last 5 years, we have seen some changes such as the Support Centers getting more and more involved in the frontline. This is great news. It opens more opportunities for everybody.

I believe this article has provided you a better knowledge of what are behind McKinsey. If you are interested to learn more about the McKinsey working culture, see also Breaking Into The Unconsciousness of a Case Interviewer. If you are interested in joining management consulting, see our Case Interview and McKinsey PST article today!

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