Unconventional Career Progression at McK

MBB McKinsey & Company promotion
New answer on Aug 10, 2022
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Aug 09, 2022

Hello,

 

I noticed recently that a few people that work for McK (London and US in particular) have been promoted from Senior Analyst to Engagement Manager directly (i.e. completely skipped the Associate role). Also, these individuals do not necessarily have MBAs. Moreover, this is not only the case with generalists but also with expert track consultants (which is even weirder). Is that normal or is it a new trend at McK? Are many Associates and EMs leaving McK nowadays which opened up the possibility for these Snr Analysts to make this jump?

 

If the above observation is true, how can one become of those individuals? Is it as simple as just being a top performer?

(edited)

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Udayan
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updated an answer on Aug 10, 2022
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

It started in North America about 6 years ago. McKinsey did a study internally and realized that a lot of people that made it to partner and especially ones that were doing really well started as a BA. So there really was no reason to kick someone out for 2 years to do an MBA to begin with. In addition that was another way to lose great talent from the firm as these were most likely to be poached by others.

Secondly, the work of the BA and Associate is almost exactly the same just that the associate comes with more experience. But for the top performers there was no reason to hold them back because they were at the same output level as the top associates.

So in short - McKinsey realized the best way to retain top talent was to provide them an accelerated path to partner with the right mentorship and guidance. As a result top BAs go on to be either EMs or Senior Associates and moving into the EM role very quickly thereafter. Some of the best EMs in the firm are 4 years out of college and do a great job working with clients.

 

 

(edited)

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Sofia
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replied on Aug 10, 2022
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Hello,

I had several colleagues at McKinsey with this career progression. It is certainly the exception rather than the norm for analysts, so it's not really a ‘trend’ in that sense, however it is indeed possible to jump from Senior Analyst to EM without transitioning to Associate or doing an MBA first. The rationale, as Udayan explained, is that the analyst's job is broadly similar to an associate's (with the caveat of less professional experience), so they get similar exposure and are able to build up a similar skillset. Therefore for top analysts who want to stay at McKinsey and continue the career progression in consulting, McKinsey really stands to gain a lot by keeping them at the firm and allowing them to transition to an EM role directly.

That being said, this career trajectory involves a lot of effort. You have to be an exceptional performer as an analyst, consistently garnering very strong performance reviews. You really need to go above and beyond in the job (which also typically means a lot of responsibility and extra hours). Most importantly, you need to build up a solid network of senior colleagues who will support your promotion, such as partners who will trust you to work as the EM on a project with one of their clients. 

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Ashwin
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replied on Aug 10, 2022
Ex Manager Bain and company | INSEAD

Hey there, 

It has to do with delivering differentiated impact. If you study the MBB high performers that fast track , they tend to have superior problem solving skills but more than that they exhibit behaviours that enables them to create differentiated client impact.  A few of the behaviours I have observed are (a) Extreme sense of ownership towards delivering results  (b) Clear, thoughtful , insight driven and concise communication style that allows them to influence senior stakeholders and (c) Resilience , ability to navigate complex political situations and focus efforts on key priorities that will generate disproportionate results 

It is easy to acquire know-how, perhaps you can also acquire problem-solving skills with deliberate practice but ingraining high performance behaviours is quite difficult and takes significant discipline. 

Thanks 

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Ken
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replied on Aug 10, 2022
Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer

In McK North America, it is now standard to go from senior BA to EM.  The speed is down to performance as well as sponsorship from partners/client service teams.  Furthermore, EM designation for North America has not explicitly been a ‘promotion’ as the rest of McK where an Associate is evaluated by a people committee and votes on whether they become an EM or not.  The reason for the change was largely around BA retention.  I've not seen this change happen in London yet where a BA now is designated to ‘Senior Associate’.

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Florian
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replied on Aug 10, 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hi there,

One thing you hear from day one of joining is that you should build your own McKinsey. A lot is possible if you put in the work + network.

Such transitions happen quite frequently within the firm. At the end of the day, McKinsey is a meritocracy, promoting and rewarding strong performers.

There are even more unconventional progressions such as from practice manager (more of an admin function) to AP to partner, etc.

Cheers,

Florian

 

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Ian
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replied on Aug 10, 2022
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Hi there,

Udayan nailed it! Just goes to show how well these companies reward hard work/grit!

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Udayan

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Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience
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