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McKinsey Hierarchy: The Different Position Levels

McKinsey McKinsey & Company Mckinsey London
New answer on May 16, 2024
16 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Dec 24, 2017

Hi,

I am looking at the hierarchy of positions at McKinsey London specifically, and to my knowledge (correct me if I am wrong), from bottom to top, the positions are
1. Analysts,
2. Associates,
3. Engagement managers,
4. Partners

Is there anything I am missing?

When I am looking at the career website, there are positions such as junior/senior consultant? Does this refer to the associate position? Where does it fit into the hierarchy?

But then again, there are also specific positions as an associate? Are these the same roles as the junior/senior consultant?

Thanks and regards,

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Jacopo
Expert
updated an answer on Aug 23, 2019
Project leader BCG, Bain and A.T. Kearney / 200+ real interviews

Hi,

That is correct, the traditional track at McKinsey from bottom to top is Analyst>Associate>Engagement Manager>Associate Partner>Partner. Moving from one position to the next normally takes 1 to 3 years. Each one of the previous role develops from Junior to Senior (e.g. from Junior analyst to Senior analyst).

Many consulting firms have different names for the same type of role but the biggest difference is merely in the naming. To put things in context and from junior to senior roles:

  1. Analyst (McK and ATK) / Associate (BCG and Bain): entry level consultants focus on gathering data/information, analyzing it and delivering it via presentations. They are guided by associates and managers.
  2. Associate (McK and ATK) / Consultant (BCG and Bain): apart from being promoted from analyst, associates typically join after an MBA or relevant work. They usually own a stream/functional area of a project. They independently oversee the work of analysts and develop the project deliverables of their specific stream. Depending on tenure, associates might be involved in client relationship and team’s leadership. Starting from Associate level, consultants interview candidates.
  3. Engagement manager (McK) / Case team leader (BCG) / Manager (Bain)/ Project manager (ATK): are responsible of planning, executing and delivering a consulting project. Their tasks include leading teams, coordinating with all project stakeholders (client and partners), resolving/mediating issues. Managers are also expected to participate to internal events (e.g. holding seminars/trainings for other consultants) and supporting business development opportunities with clients.
  4. Associate partner (McK) / Junior partner (Bain) / Principal (BCG and ATK): they own the project delivery (they typically manage multiple projects at once) and are expected to sell new consulting work.
  5. Partner: they are less involved in the daily execution of a project and focus more on high-level strategy (they are the key owners of project deliverables). A big part of their work is dedicated to selling new consulting assignments to both existing and new clients.

I hope this helps,

Jacopo

(edited)

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Ziray on Dec 16, 2018

Would you know the rough % of candidates that "make it" to each round of promotions?

Clara on Oct 02, 2019

These % are very well kept within the firms, as well as the % of candidates that make it to each step of the recruitment process. Personally, I would not trust anyone who dares to give an approximation

Christine
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replied on Oct 18, 2021
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Hi there, 

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Clara
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Content Creator
replied on Oct 02, 2019
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

To add a bit more flavour to prior answers: the "know" and "normal" path is Business Analyst > Associate Consultant > Engagement Manager > Associate Partner > Partner (see in other comments the definition of each, since they are pretty well ellaborated)

However, we also need to take into consideration the "internships":

- Summer Business Analyst: 2-6 months summer contracts for people about to finish education

-Summer Asociate Consultant: 2-3 months summer contracts for people during the summer of their MBAs

Furthermore, there are some "intermediate" steps:

- Junior Associate Consultant: people with some previous experience that don´t enter as Business Analyst, but don´t have an MBA

- Junior Engagement Manager: associates transitioning to the new role, normally for 1-2 engagements

Finally, after partner, there is the Senior Partner role.

We also have to take into consideration tht McKinsey is currently offering more paths (e.g., Expert role path, Advance Analytics paths...) that are not exactly like those ones.

Hope it helps!

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Vlad
Expert
updated an answer on Dec 25, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Actually, it's a bit different at McKinsey:

1) Intern - Internship for students after which you are supposed to get a full-time offer

2) Business Analyst (BA) - an entry role, well-defined, with a strict time frame of 2 years

3) Senior Business Analyst (SBA) - Usually lasts 1-1.5 years. You can get this position on the job offer if you have 1.5-2.5 years of experience prior to consulting

4) Fellow Associate - The short role that some of the candidates may get. There are two possible scenarios:

  • After the interview, if you don't have enough relevant experience for an associate role / performed not perfectly in the interview. If you have never worked in consulting this is a good starting point since you can get more experience before starting to manage projects and have more time to improve if you fail at something
  • As a promotion from SBA position if you are not getting MBA and your performance is not good enough to get a DTA (Direct to Associate promotion)

5) Associate. An associate is a very short-term role - 1-2 years

6) Junior Engagement Manager (JEM) - In a year you'll start leading a project as an Associate and after the first successful project, you'll become a JEM - junior Engagement Manager. After leading several successful projects as a JEM you'll get promoted to an Engagement Manager.

7) Engagement Manager (EM) - basically leading the projects for 2-3 years

8) Associate principal - Leading multiple projects, guiding EMs. 2-3 years

9) Partner

10) Director

Best

(edited)

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Jacopo on Dec 25, 2017

Hi, this seems very much aligned with my previous answer. Please note that at McKinsey there are minor differences in naming depending on your office e.g., Business Analysts are called Fellows in some European offices; hence I would suggest to stick to the main roles (e.g. analyst, associate,…) to avoid confusion depending on geographies. B.R.

(edited)

Vlad on Dec 26, 2017

It’s not a fellow = ba in These European countries but rather ba roles don’t exist at all since the salary levels for fellows are close to ASC and more or less aligned everywhere (except Africa, India, etc)

Ziray on Dec 16, 2018

Would you have % of candidates that "make it" to each round of promotion? i.e. what % of business analysts make it to SBA, then to Associate, then to JEM, then to EM... Thanks!

Gaurav
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 16, 2024
#1 MBB Coach(Placed 750+ in MBBs & 1250+ in Tier2)| The Only 360 coach(Ex-McKinsey + Certified Coach + Active recruiter)

At McKinsey, the hierarchy of positions and titles can be somewhat complex, especially as it can vary slightly by office and region. However, the basic hierarchy typically looks like this:

1. Business Analyst (or Junior Consultant): Entry-level position, typically for new graduates.
2. Associate (or Consultant): Usually for MBA graduates or those with relevant work experience.
3. Engagement Manager (or Project Manager): Leads projects and teams of consultants.
4. Associate Partner (or Junior Partner): A stepping stone to the full partnership.
5. Partner: Senior role with responsibility for client relationships, leading teams, and business development.
6. Senior Partner (or Director): Top leadership position, with significant influence over the firm's direction and strategy.

Clarifications:

Junior Consultant/Senior Consultant:
- These titles can sometimes be used interchangeably with Associate positions. In some offices, "Junior Consultant" may refer to someone who is relatively new to the Associate level, while "Senior Consultant" may refer to someone with more experience at the Associate level but not yet promoted to Engagement Manager.

Associate:
- Typically refers to someone with an MBA or equivalent experience, taking on significant responsibilities within projects and starting to manage parts of the project and client relationships.

Business Analyst:
- This is the entry-level role, generally for new graduates (undergraduate degree holders).

Engagement Manager:
- They oversee project execution, manage teams of Associates and Business Analysts, and are deeply involved in client interactions and project management.

Associate Partner:
- They have significant client responsibilities and are on the path to becoming a full Partner, involved in business development and higher-level strategy.

Partner:
- Full Partners have major responsibilities for leading client engagements, driving business development, and guiding teams.

Specific Roles on Career Websites:

- When you see specific roles such as "Junior Consultant" or "Senior Consultant" on career websites, it's essential to check the detailed job description to understand how these roles fit into the office's specific hierarchy.


- Generally, in McKinsey's London office, if you see "Junior Consultant," it likely aligns with the entry-level Associate role. "Senior Consultant" might be a more experienced Associate or a step before becoming an Engagement Manager.

Final Notes:

- The titles can vary slightly between different offices and regions, but the progression generally follows the pattern outlined above.
- Always refer to the specific job descriptions provided on the McKinsey career website for the most accurate information, as they will give you the best insight into the responsibilities and expectations of each role.

By understanding these nuances, you can better navigate the career progression at McKinsey and tailor your application and career planning accordingly.

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Emily
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 29, 2022
Ex McKinsey EM & interviewer (5 yrs) USA & UK| Coached / interviewed 300 +|Free 15 min intro| Stanford MBA|Non-trad

That's almost perfect! 

So the roles at McKinsey are in general:

- Business Analysts (BAs) - come in after undergraduate. Individual contributors who run a workstream.

- Associates - either come in after an MBA or sometimes as an experienced hire. Individual contributors who run a workstream.

- Engagement Manager - lead the day to day work of the team. 

- Associate Partner - manage two or three studies and focus on client development

- Partner - manage a number of studies and the client relationship

- Senior Partner - as per partner, but with more seniority

Some offices then add other levels e.g., London has a ‘Junior Associate’ role which is for those with around 5 years of work experience but who they don't think are quite experienced enough to be an Associate. The American offices often talk about Junior Engagement Managers, or JEMs, who are inbetween Associate and EM. 

Then there are a number of businesses that McKinsey has acquired / developed over the last few years e.g., product focused arms of the organisation, designed focused arms. These all have different roles e.g., product manager, different types of consultant. It's worth reaching out to the recruiting team to understand these positions more. 

Hope this helps! 

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Anonymous replied on Sep 23, 2019

Hi,

further I would say that over the last time companies also tend to introduce additional internal chierarchies which are not always visible to extern.

In order to keep promotion cycles relatively short (12-18 months) companies have started to split existing career levels into informal 1 & 2 sublevels.

I can give you an example how this logic was applied at Roland Berger, but I know that other tier-1 also started to look at this approach.

Previous and current career grades:

Junior Consultant Assistent (Intern) -> Junior Consultant Assistent (Intern) and Masterand (intern in Master's semi final year); The company has started to differentiate the pay for bachelor's and master's intern, while in general significantly increased the salary for interns;

Business/Consulting Analyst -> Business/Consulting Analyst 1 and Business/Consulting Analyst 2. This is an entry position for bachelor graduates. A quick promotion from 1 to 2 is possible after 6 or 12 months depending on your development speed.

Junior Consultant -> Junior Consultant 1 and Junior Consultant 2. This is an entry position for master graduates. A quick promotion from 1 to 2 is possible after 6 or 12 months depending on your development speed.

Consultant -> Consultant 1 and Consultant 2. This is an entry position for PhDs or young professionals with up to 3 years of experience. A quick promotion from 1 to 2 is possible after 6, 12 or 18 months depending on your development speed.

Senior Consultant -> Senior Consultant 1 and Senior Consultant 2. This could also an entry position for PhDs or young professionals with 3-5 years of experience, if they performed very well during the interview. A promotion cycle between 1 and 2 could be 12, 18 or 24 months depending on your development speed. Normally it takes 4-6 years to get from the junior position to the Project Manager (PM) depending on your performance and luck.

Project Manager -> PM 1 and PM 2. Promotion between 12 and 24 months depending on performance. It usually takes another 12-36 months to be promoted from PM2 to Principle depending on your ability to sell projects and sell yourself in front of the partners.

Principle - is the only career level which has not yet been splitted furhter. You need to reach minimum turnover in order to be promoted to the Partner level.

Partner -> P1, P2 and P3. Even on the Partner level there is a huge differentiation. Partner P1 is a newly promoted partner who sells projects for less than 4m Euro/USD. Senior Partner P2 is a more experienced colleague, who is able to sell annually more than 4m Euro/USD. Senior Partner P3 is either a Regional Director or Member of the Management or Supervisory board of the company.

Even though this logic comes from RB, it also applies to McKinsey and other MBB/Tier-1 companies. They only call the career levels differently.

Hope it brings you furhter clarity.

Best,

André

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Alberto
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 30, 2023
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Hi there,

Adding on top on previous answers, expert tracks end in Expert Partner. Experts cannot become Senior Partners at McKinsey.

Best,

Alberto

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B
Expert
replied on Feb 24, 2018
NOT AVAILABLE

Hey anonymous,

Let me just add to this conversation that McKinsey doesn't have Directors any longer. Since last year, the role was rebranded as Senior Partners (then for the remaining roles/positions, naming conventions may change as referred by Vlad).

Best

Bruno

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Andi
Expert
replied on Aug 27, 2023
BCG 1st & Final Round interviewer | Personalized prep with >95% success rate | 7yrs coaching | #1 for Experienced Hires

Hi there,

just an additional thought with regards to your follow up question on % conversion rates in terms of promotion. 

This is something that can vary significantly on various factors such as career level, economic situation, natural attrition and the current staffing pyramid. 

  • Career level: there are certain progressions that are easier, others more difficult to achieve - this typically links to the similarity of subsequent roles. Relatively easier: from BA / Fellow to Associate, from EM to AP. Reletively more challenging: Associate to EM, EM to Partner. Conversion rates will be in accordance.
  • Macro-Economic situation: in times of steep company growth and/or high natural attrition rates, the firm will be a bit more lenient when it comes to promoition decisions. 
  • Natural attrition: when attrition is high, the firm will be relatively less strict, when noone wants to leave (e.g. during covid days), usually they have to tighten up to keep the “up or out” nature in tact. 
  • Staffing pyramid: the company will vary strictness, based on the current composition of their staffing pyramid - overall, there is a certain “span of control” for each level they deem optimal. If the pyramid gets out of whack, the firm takes targeted measures (→ stricter / more lenient promotions and/or more/less aggressive hiring) to balance it out.

Hope this clarifies.

Regards, Andi

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 20, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi,

By the way, these are great discussions to have while networking. One goal of networking is to figure out where you sit. Honestly, your one and only priority in this whole discussion should be figuring out for what position you should apply.

Then, once you're in the company you'll just naturally learn the heirarchy.

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Afreen
Expert
replied on Aug 14, 2023
Top-rated McKinsey interviewer / Harvard grad and McKinsey consultant with 5+Y live interview experience

Overall correct answers above - however note that McKinsey in particular can have different job titles depending on office location. 

For example, if you come in with an MBA and/or a few years of work experience, some regional offices of McKinsey will hire you as a Junior Associate (which then takes ~1 year to progress to Associate). I would use the above information as general guidance and then reach out to a regional recruiter / consultant in your target offices to see if they have more insider info on what position you would come in as given your profile (I am happy to help with US/EEMA offices of McKinsey).

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Anonymous B replied on Aug 02, 2023

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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Sep 21, 2023
Top rated Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /12 years recruiting experience

Typical roles and seniority at McKinsey are as follows:

Entry-level:

  • Business Analyst (BA): BAs are typically recent college graduates with limited work experience.
  • Junior Associate (JA): Junior Associates are typically recent MBA graduates or professionals with a few years of experience. BAs and JAs work on similar projects and roles but the typical expectation is that a BA is more likely to leave for an MBA/Grad degree or different company. (JA role is only available in select countries)

Mid-level:

  • Associate (A): Associates are typically MBAs with 2-3 years of experience or professionals with 4-5 years of experience.
  • Junior Engagement Manager (JEM) (NOT AN OFFICIAL DESIGNATION): JEMs are typically Associates with 3-4 years of experience. They are responsible for managing small to medium-sized projects and working closely with clients.

Senior-level:

  • Engagement Manager (EM): EMs are typically JEMs with ~1 year of experience. They are responsible for managing  projects and leading teams of consultants.
  • Associate Partner (AP): APs are typically EMs with 3-4 years of experience. They are responsible for developing and managing client relationships and leading teams of consultants on multiple projects.
  • Partner: Partners are responsible for developing and leading the firm's overall strategy and managing client relationships.
  • Senior Partner : Most senior designation at McKinsey, aside from managing senior level client relationships, they are responsible for developing and leading the firm's overall strategy, which includes setting new business goals, expanding into new markets, and developing new service offerings

McKinsey also has a number of other roles, such as Knowledge Experts, Business Technology Officers, and Operations Managers. However, the roles listed above are the most common and represent the typical career path for consultants at McKinsey.

It is important to note that the time it takes to advance from one role to the next can vary depending on individual performance and the needs of the firm. However, most consultants expect to be promoted to the next level within 2-3 years.


In addition to the generalist consulting track, McKinsey also has an Expert Track for professionals who have deep expertise in a particular industry or function. Experts typically work on projects that are related to their area of expertise and provide guidance and support to other consultants on the team.

The roles and seniority on the Expert Track are as follows:

Entry-level:

  • Expert Associate (EA): EAs are typically professionals with 2-3 years of experience in their area of expertise. They work on projects that are related to their area of expertise and provide guidance and support to other consultants on the team.

Mid-level:

  • Senior Expert Associate (SEA): SEAs are typically EAs with 1-2 years of experience. They take on more responsibility on projects and can sometimes lead a small team of junior consultants.

Senior-level:

  • Expert Engagement Manager (EEM): They are responsible for managing large and complex projects that are related to their area of expertise.
  • Expert Associate Partner (EAP): EAPs are typically EEMs with 2-3 years of experience. They are responsible for developing and managing client relationships and leading teams of consultants on multiple projects.
  • Expert Partner: Expert Partners are the most senior consultants on the Expert Track. They are responsible for developing and leading the firm's overall strategy in their area of expertise and managing client relationships.

Hope this helps,

Udayan

 

(edited)

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Anonymous replied on Oct 30, 2022

1. Junior Associates,
2. Associates,
3. Engagement managers,
4. Associate Partners
5. Partners
6. Senior Partners

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Simon
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 19, 2022
50+ successful coachings / Ex-Mckinsey JEM & Interviewer / Industry + Engineering background

Hey anonymous,

Let me just add to this conversation that McKinsey also has expert roles, that are equivalent to the generalist roles (e.g. Specialist = Associate, Expert = EM, …).
In addition there are expert roles that also offer development into a Partner role (if they are client facing) - often via an Expert Associate Partner Track (to become Expert Partner or Partner - equivalent). 

Best

Simon

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Jacopo gave the best answer

Jacopo

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