Work and life balance at Partner level McKinsey

McKinsey McKinsey & Company Worklife worklifebalance
New answer on Jan 16, 2023
8 Answers
4.5 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Jan 15, 2023

Thinking about longterm career planning - how does the work life balance at Partner level look like? Interested to know particularly about McKinsey, Saudi Arabia/Dubai, if possible.

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 16, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there, 

What a great question!

I wrote an article on PrepLounge that covers this precisely - How long are the hours in consulting?

On a very high level, a rough average of all the Partners I met in almost 5 years in McKinsey, they'd work from 9 to 9 (12h) every day, with a potentially shorter day on Friday. 

However, there is a significant variability here. Here are some of the factors (among others):

  • Location/Geography - Partners in E Europe for instance struggle a bit more than Partners in W Europe or US because there are significantly fewer clients they can work with. The competition there is stronger and there are long stretches of time when all they do is pitch without visibility on any potential conversion.  
  • Platform - in countries where consulting is a bigger market, young Partners ‘inherit’ a client from older Partners on their way out. This is especially the case if they were part of that CST (client service team) for a few years. That also makes it slightly easier on the lifestyle.
  • Industry - needless to say, some industries are rougher than others. Financial Services is notoriously bad, as is Private Equity. Mining, for instance, and depending on the location and type of project, tends to be a bit better - also because due to safety requirements you are not legally allowed to work past a certain number of hours. 
  • Ambition - this applies not only to Partner level, but to all levels. The faster you want to go, the more the other areas of your life will suffer. 

Best,

Cristian

Was this answer helpful?
Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 16, 2023
Highest-rated McKinsey coach (ratings, offers, sessions) | 500+ offers | Author of The 1% & Consulting Career Secrets

Hi there,

There is good news and bad news.

The good news first:

As a partner, you are an owner of the firm, and just like that you build your own stake in it, hence you have a lot of freedom and flexibility about what you do and where you spent your time any given week (also what clients you want to develop). If you are not showing up to a team room one week, no one bats an eye because the implicit assumption is that you are busy on another project that demands more attention.

The bad news:

Still, the stakes are high and you will work AND travel a lot more than on the levels below as you are working with multiple clients in multiple locations. You will have to firefight much more as there is always something popping up.

While all consultants I know rarely work weekends (if at all), as a partner you will work every weekend (even if it is just smaller things such as organizing the week ahead and replying to emails). You are expected to be always available.

I had calls with partners who were on the ski lift and then left their family to go down the slopes while they were problem-solving on top of the mountain in the cold with the team.

Ian describes the traveling aspect well but in McKinsey, I would say that is even more extreme due to the credo to bring the best of the firm to the clients, meaning that if you are THE expert on topic Y and there is a client workshop in Africa exactly on that topic, you will fly in to attend that workshop from Europe. This is a real example of one of the partners I worked with. She flew from Germany to Paris on Monday where I was working an engagement, then Monday night flew to South Africa, attended a 3-hour workshop the next day, then flew back to Europe to stay there one day, then go the U.S. to her other team and back at the end of the week. 

It's not always that extreme but it can be. :-)

In Dubai, you will travel a lot within the region and Africa depending on your expertise.

Cheers,

Florian

Was this answer helpful?
Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 16, 2023
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

I think this is an interesting question that may be relevant for many people. I would be happy to share my thoughts on it:

  • Partners are highly respected and accomplished professionals who are responsible for leading client engagements and managing the firm's business operations. They are also expected to be active in business development and recruiting new talent to the firm. However, becoming a partner is not a decision that an individual can make on their own, as it is based on a combination of factors such as performance, business development, and the needs of the firm. Therefore, while it is important to be aware of the expectations and responsibilities of a partner, it is also important to focus on developing the skills and experiences that will help you succeed in your current role and contribute to the firm's success.
  • In terms of work-life balance, partners are expected to have a high level of commitment and dedication to the firm. This often means long hours and a demanding workload, particularly during periods of intense client engagement. However, strategy consulting companies also places a strong emphasis on maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and partners are encouraged to take time off and prioritize their well-being. It's worth noting that the work-life balance can vary depending on the individual, the nature of the projects, and their personal circumstances. Additionally, it's not unique to McKinsey or the location in Saudi Arabia/ Dubai, but rather an industry-wide concern for consulting firms. 

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to address your specific situation, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

Was this answer helpful?
Pedro
Expert
replied on Jan 15, 2023
#1 EY-Parthenon Coach | Bain | Roland Berger | RB Former Head Recruiter | Market Sizing Expert

You manage your time, but client comes first. So you probably don't need to work late night, but you have to always be available. 

You also need to sell, and for that you need to network. That means that you have to enjoy a bit of social life during nights and weekends.

If a client calls you and has an emergency, you have to be there.

Ultimately, having a good work life balance lays on your ability to have clients that are large and stable, and that don't have a lot of urgencies and that are respectful of your time; and simultaneously of having a strong team that is able to setup high quality proposals and deliver excelent quality work without significant guidance.

 

Was this answer helpful?
Tom
Expert
replied on Jan 16, 2023
FREE Intro session | Deloitte Senior Consultant | Big4 & Boutiques coaching | Strategy & Operations | LBS MBA

Think it really depends on who the partner is…

I know partners who clock ridiculous work hours, sometimes more so than analysts/associates, as well as partners who have been at the firm for 15-20+ years, know that they're valuable, and clock barely 20 hours a week.  

As mentioned by other experts, at partner-level it's not so much about running analyses/PPTs, more about flying from a to b, fielding random calls from clients at all hours, networking, panel events, board meetings etc.  

Was this answer helpful?
Adi
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 16, 2023
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

When you observe partners , its clear there is no or very little work life balance. The job is demanding and its always on! Its like this across pretty much all geographies.

Having said this, when you are doing something you really want to do and are having fun..question of work life balance doesnt arise. You make it work seemlessly.

Most (not all) of the partners I came across enjoyed what they did, so they didnt mind the grind.

Work-life balance is something that you must take control of. If you let the company dictate the rules, they will consume you.

Was this answer helpful?
Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 16, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Quite simply you eat what you kill. You are also with other type A individuals and competing with Partners at the other consultancies.

For the Partners I knew, it wasn't uncommon for them to fly to Perth Monday morning from Sydney (3 hours), leave Monday evening for Brisbane (3 hours), Leave Wednesday morning for Melbourne (2.5 hours), then leave Wed/Thurs evening for Sydney (1.5 hours).

Those hours are flight time, not commute time. And they are running/overseeing multiple projects and proposals at any one time.

Was this answer helpful?
Moritz
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Jan 17, 2023
ex-McKinsey EM & Interviewer | 7/8 offer rate for 4+ sessions | 90min sessions with FREE exercises & videos

Hi there,

It's somewhat pointless to think about this because it's not the goal that matters but the journey

  • Goal: Being a Partner offers more work life balance than other roles in MBB but it's still a brutal lifestyle by ‘normal standards’
  • Journey: The way to Partner level is super tough, especially the Associate Partner level, and most people don't make it for all kinds of reasons

Hope this helps. Best of luck!

(edited)

Was this answer helpful?
Cristian gave the best answer

Cristian

Content Creator
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach
642
Meetings
23,746
Q&A Upvotes
115
Awards
5.0
205 Reviews
How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or fellow student?
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
0 = Not likely
10 = Very likely