Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class Of 2021

McKinsey consultants speak over 130 languages and represent over 130 citizenships.


McKinsey is also a dynamic organization, ever evolving to meet technological disruptions and changing client expectations. Over the past decade, Kristin Altenburg has witnessed these shifts — and McKinsey’s response. The firm’s associate director for U.S. campus recruiting, Altenburg points to McKinsey’s deeper dive into the tech space, where it has bolstered its headcount and resources to enhance digital strategies. The same is true in another key practice.

“Over the last year or so, we have been growing our sustainability practice,” Altenburg tells P&Q in a May 2022 interview. “That is such a huge growing area for us. If you think about it, all of our clients, in some way or another, are thinking about sustainability and how it impacts their business and what they should be thinking about. That is one thing that has been growing tremendously across the sectors and it is something that is quite exciting for our students who are considering consulting. That digital and sustainability space is something we are hearing that they are really keen on and there is more work than ever in it and that surprises folks.”

That work is extending far beyond the PowerPoint deck and final report too, Altenburg adds.  “The Implementation Group is another group that has really grown within McKinsey in the last few years. Traditionally, you come up with a strategy and package it. Now, we have a huge implementation practice that actually works across industries and functions to help stay on with a client through that implementation phase. So we’re not just handing it over, but making sure they have the right tools and processes to bring their folks along.”

Kristin Altenburg


Ask MBAs about their first year and they’re bound to mention “The Process” or “The McKinsey Mind.” In other words, MBAs face a big transition in learning the firms’ structured way of looking at problems and synthesizing information. That starts with clearly defining and framing problems, where the goal is always to differentiate root causes from symptomatic reactions. Notably, McKinsey operates off of hypotheses, which illuminate both pathways and the how, why, and what if questions that need to be considered.

Communication is also essential in McKinsey client management, with consultants seeding takeaways long before the main presentation. At the same time, McKinsey applies a pyramid structure to conveying its findings, opening with a conclusion that is supplemented by key points — all backed supporting data and examples. While McKinsey’s process-driven approach focuses heavily on framing problems, interpreting data, and formulating narratives, it doesn’t discount consultant intuition based on past experiences and observable dynamics.

In their hearts, McKinsey consultants are artists, where slides are their canvas and words are their palette. That means balancing being succinct and gracious professional with making a connection through unforgettable images and stories. Tre Tennyson considers the proverbial “blank page” to be prime “real estate,” where the “right structure can communicate the right idea.” That starts with dividing what’s critical from what’s insightful and what’s compelling from what’s diverting. In the end, the key question, says Moyosoreoluwa Orekoya, is “So what?”

“It’s great to have a good slide and a beautiful model laid out in an Excel spreadsheet, but everything ultimately needs to justify its existence. What does this mean for the client? What does this mean for the problem we are trying to solve? How does this get us closer to the solution?”

McKinsey recruits from more than 350 different higher-education institutions


Once you apply that question to every component, Orekoya adds, the next step is weaving together a potent narrative. “It means gathering facts, extracting the “So what’s” and then communicating a unified grand vision of how our clients can perform better and further galvanizing them into action. McKinsey taught me that while good leaders are story tellers, they have the facts with them, just in case. I’m going to borrow and then bastardize Roosevelt’s quote “Speak softly but carry a big stick”. At McKinsey, I have learned that business runs on narrative, but narrative without facts is dead.  We build the story bottom up, and communicate it top down, and I’ve found that to be very powerful.”

Still, there is a final ingredient that consultants must add to frame and deliver their results, adds  Kristin Altenburg. “It goes back to, first-and-foremost, building trust-based relationships. That is the foundation of management consulting. Honestly, you can come up with a strategy and possess all the knowledge, but you have to build up these trust-based relationships and do it all the levels you’re working with. Without that, you’re ultimately never going to be able to influence them to take that strategy and ultimately deliver.”

What types of MBAs do best at building long-term trust and crafting forceful stories. For Altenburg, it starts with curiosity. “It is really trying to look for folks who look at problems from a lot of different angles. It goes back to that diversity of thought in some ways. [It means] bringing people in from a wide range of backgrounds so they can come at a problem from a lot of different angles. And people not just coming at it from a certain framework, but getting really creative on that front.”

McKinsey Consultant


Creativity may be intangible, but problem-solving stems from binding MBA consultants together with the same vision, values, and norms. These are reinforced through EMBARK, McKinsey’s onboarding program in which every consultant participates.

“During that week-long training program,” Altenburg notes, “they go through the McKinsey problem-solving process. What are the various steps of that? What is the language associated with that? What are all of the tools? How do we work with clients and how does that all play out?  That way, we take all these creative curious problem-solvers with different backgrounds, give them a framework to think about the problem-solving process. And then you can staff a lot of global teams coming from different locations and practices to come work together. From day one, they’ll be able to tackle the problem in the same way while bringing their different perspective to bear.”

Each year, McKinsey invests over $200 million dollars in training. To the Class of 2021, this has been money well-spent. Just ask Izulman bin Telimik, a Yale SOM MBA who started in McKinsey’s Kuala Lumpur office last year. He lauds the firm’s “robust” learning platform, which includes various pathways along with mandatory modules.  Nanditha Chandrashekar is equally bullish on McKinsey training.

“It set me up to deliver from day one. We had role plays with McKinsey colleagues playing clients as part of our training. I had the exact same situation come up two weeks into my first project, and I could keep my calm and knew exactly what to do. The onboarding is also setup in a way that you bond with the people from your cohort. A few of the people from my onboarding are still my go-to when I hit a roadblock.”

Next Page: Profiles of 14 McKinsey MBA Hires

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