Currently, there are more than 1,400 consultants with PhDs at McKinsey globally, and most say they came to McKinsey to broaden their horizons beyond the academic setting. As consultants, they find they can apply their problem-solving skills in new ways, work within fun and stimulating team settings, and make measurable impact more quickly and more often.
Many came from careers in basic research, where they often worked in isolation and where it can take years to achieve tangible results. As McKinsey consultants, they work through their clients’ problems in months or even weeks rather than years. To solve those problems, they work side by side with other consultants and with their clients. As in academia, the environment at McKinsey is intellectually stimulating and competitive, but it’s also ever-changing and supportive. PhDs who come to McKinsey appreciate the chance to tackle a new challenge with each engagement, and they develop personally and professionally as they go, with mentoring support, on-the-job training, and more formal learning opportunities such as mini-MBA and leadership courses.
For someone who has spent years conducting research within the same field, coming to McKinsey offers the chance to branch out—to explore new industries and new ways of thinking. Many consultants with PhDs in fields such as pharmaceuticals or high-tech go on to work in those areas, but some choose to enter industries they might never have been exposed to before joining McKinsey, including media, private equity, consumer goods, and banking.