AN OBLIGATION TO DISSENT
Overall, McKinsey scored highest in Exit Opportunities – the ability to use the experience and brand to land a high level job. Here, it averaged a 9.910. McKinsey respondents were also bullish on their firm’s Leadership and Business Outlook, with 9.851 and 9.891 scores in these respective categories. The office environment was also relatively harmonious, based on scores in Interaction with Clients (9.826), Ability to Challenge (9.832), and Relationships with Supervisors (9.775) – the latter two scores representing major upticks over the previous year. In fact, the only red flag – albeit minor – came in Hours Worked (Down .1 of a point).
Along with innovation, McKinsey also prizes “flexibility” – one reason, Lostutter says, the firm excels in Internal Mobility and International Opportunities. Another core value, however, is Obligation to Dissent, a cornerstone of the firm’s culture. This obligation, rooted in respect and responsibility, also explains why internal relationships within the firm have traditionally notched high marks in Vault’s Consulting 50 survey.
“Obligation to Dissent means anyone and everyone in the firm is expected to express their opinion, point out what they think may be wrong – in a client engagement, in an office, in a team – and offer solutions and ideas,” Lostutter explains. If you’ve been at McKinsey for two days, two years or 20 years, you are equally expected to share your ideas and feedback. This encourages a positive environment where people can challenge, create change and work collaboratively.”
AN “ENERGIZING AND INSPIRING” PLACE
It is also a feedback-driven culture, Lostutter adds, one derived from an office-driven staffing model, where consultants are in close quarters and close contact with all of their peers. “[This] supports our consultants as they build networks and expertise to our strengths-based feedback culture in which everyone gives everyone feedback on what they’re doing well and how they can improve. This is not a place where only senior people give feedback or there’s only a once a year review.”
This cultural formula – innovation, training, flexibility, feedback, and dissent – are among the biggest reasons why McKinsey remains #1 in the Vault Consulting 50.
“Our firm is getting busier and busier with all the right projects—the ones that not only help our clients meaningfully move their business forward, but also the ones that help usher in the next innovations,” writes one respondent. “McKinsey is adapting to the latest trends and is constantly innovating new ways of working with our clients that is both energizing and inspiring to me and my colleagues.”
A CLIENT-FOCUSED CULTURE AT BAIN
Bain & Company lived up to its lofty standards, continuing to rank as the top consulting firm for Culture and Informal Training. In the Vault survey, one Bain consultant described the culture as a “collaborative, fun culture with incredibly intelligent people that aren’t remotely conceited.” Another respondent boils the culture down to two words: results focus. “We collaborate with our clients to get results unlike any other firm in the industry.”
Keith Bevans, a Bain Partner and Global Head of Consultant Recruiting, lists “passion” as one of the culture’s main differentiators. In recruiting, the firm weighs heavily how passionate recruits are about work, family, and hobby. This passion, he says, translates into bringing the best out in Bain’s clients.
“The #1 focus for our people is doing what it takes for our clients to set new standards for success in their industry,” he tells P&Q in an August interview. “We hire people who want to do more than just learn from the work that they are doing; they want their clients to be successful and to be leaders in their respective industries. That is a bit of a different focus because it is not me-focused but very client-focused. Ultimately, if your clients are successful, you learn a lot from the executives on the journey; that will feed itself back onto your own professional development and start a very virtuous cycle. We hire people who understand that.”
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