About Julia

Dr. Julia Sperling, based in our Dubai office, is a founding partner and leader of our Middle East Healthcare Practice and a global leader in our Organization Practice. She oversees our women in leadership work in the Middle East.

The focus of Julia’s work is on health-system transformations, ranging from creating academic health and science systems to building the leadership capabilities of hospital top teams. She has overseen the creation of national health strategies, health crises units, the setting up of health financing systems, and the design of a national medical college and national school of government.

Julia is deeply passionate about changing organisational cultures and strengthening leadership development across different industries. With her research background in cognitive neurosciences, all of her transformation and human capital work is grounded in science.

Overseeing our Women in Leadership work in the Middle East, she has a particular interest in helping remarkable women lead in Saudi Arabia. She has supported the design of the Women in Leadership program for one of the Kingdom’s major institutions, serving as its lead facilitator for several years.

Julia is also a frequent speaker and chairperson in regional and international conferences on healthcare, cognitive neurosciences, and women’s leadership. She is a native German speaker, fluent in English, French, and Spanish. She also speaks Italian and has a basic knowledge of modern Arabic.

A medical doctor and neuroscientist, Julia completed research fellowships and electives at Harvard Medical School, Queen Square (London), and the World Health Organization prior to joining McKinsey.


Unconscious bias and ingrained beliefs,” McKinsey Leadership Development

Neuroscience and learning,” McKinsey Leadership Development

Published work

When Execution Isn't Enough: Decoding Inspirational Leadership, Wiley, September 2016

Solving public problems through behavioral science,” McKinsey & Company, May 2016

How advancing women's equality can add $12 trillion to global growth,” McKinsey Global Institute, September 2015

How to separate learning myths from reality,” McKinsey Quarterly, July 2015

Women leaders in the Gulf: The view from Saudi Aramco,” McKinsey Quarterly, February 2015

Promoting gender diversity in the Gulf,” McKinsey Quarterly, February 2015

GCC Women in leadership—from the first to the norm,” McKinsey & Company, July 2014


Max Planck Institute for Brain Research
Dr. med.,cognitive neurosciences (summa cum laude)

University of Frankfurt