Ten years ago, when a McKinsey consultant left the firm, chances were they headed toward a bank, private equity group, or another professional service firm—in London, New York, Berlin, or another big city. But as our firm changed more in the past decade than at any other time in its entire 96-year history, so did our alumni network.
We’ve integrated analytics, AI, digital, design, and other capabilities into the new ways we work with our clients. We’ve opened new offices in 41 cities, many of which lie in emerging markets across Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. And we’ve grown; McKinsey today is 30,000 colleagues strong.
So today, that same consultant leaving our firm might launch a mobile healthcare service in India. Or develop self-driving cars in California. Or – heading even farther afield, to the stratosphere – lead a startup to clean up space debris.
We were looking for new ways to understand and share what our alumni network was doing.Mike RobertoAlumni Relations Manager
That got our Alumni Relations team thinking: how exactly have all the changes our firm has undergone over the last decade played out among our alumni community, which now comprises some 35,000+ members around the world?
Alumni Relations Manager Mike Roberto, who joined the firm after serving in a variety of analytics roles in the U.S. Marine Corps, took on the challenge of answering that question.
“We were looking for new ways to understand and share what our alumni network was doing,” explains Mike, “and then I began researching our archives and came across insights we had from 2009. Since that time, the alumni tech infrastructure has been upgraded three times, each with a different industry/functional taxonomy and data schema. That posed some challenges, but after processing, mapping, and tying everything together, we got a pretty complete picture.”
According to Global Leader of Alumni Strategy and Engagement Michelle Forrest, having a more complete picture would help their team better serve the McKinsey alumni community. “We intuitively knew how quickly our firm was changing,” she says, “but the analysis of 35,000+ people over 10 years provided the empirical proof.”
The first thing that jumped out to Mike and Michelle is how our alumni population has ballooned over the last decade in emerging markets, more than doubling and creating a presence in 20 more countries than in 2009.
There are individuals behind these statistics, and that’s where Alumni Relations Lead Writer and Researcher Heather Gessino-Kraft comes in. Part of her role is to bring our alumni stories to life, as she identifies interesting work that our former colleagues are doing around the world.
For example, Zoë Ng is co-founder of Raintree Development, which offers innovative office spaces in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Joe Mbulu is CFO of Union Bank in Nigeria. And Sanzhar Zharkeshov was recently appointed Vice Minister of Ecology, Geology, and Natural Resources in Kazakhstan.
Looking across industries, tech has seen the biggest jump. Today about 17 percent – or nearly one in five alumni – are involved in some way, whether it’s joining tech behemoths such as Google and Apple, running departments or divisions in mid-size companies, or launching startups of their own.
We intuitively knew how quickly our firm was changing, but the analysis of 35,000+ people over 10 years provided the empirical proof.Michelle ForrestGlobal Leader of Alumni Strategy and Engagement
Meanwhile, some McKinsey alums are even developing technologies that didn’t exist ten years ago. Sterling Anderson co-founded Aurora, for instance, which creates the underlying technology for self-driving cars. Arnaud Valleille heads up robotics innovation at JPMorgan Chase. And Andras Forgacs co-founded Modern Meadow, a company that uses bio-fabrication to produce sustainable leather.
After tech, McKinsey alumni are most frequently moving into the retail/consumer and healthcare industries, with more than 10 percent joining these companies and institutions. This is a natural outgrowth of their experience in helping clients engage customers, partners, patients, and users through new analytics and digital platforms, services and offerings.
Meaghan Rose, for instance, created Rocksbox, a jewelry membership service; Oliver Kharraz-Tavakol and Cyrus Massoumi founded Zocdoc, a digital healthcare marketplace that streamlines finding and booking doctors; and Neil Kumar founded BridgeBio, an umbrella organization whose startups focus on diseases caused by genetic defects.
In addition, alumni in the data’s top selected functions saw the largest growth in operations and manufacturing, and nearly 10 percent of alumni today are working in careers that help them make a positive contribution to society, choosing government and social sector organizations where they are working to improve education, economic development, agriculture and public health on national and local levels.
These former colleagues include Andrew Morlet, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation; Gustavo Lopetegui, Argentina's Energy Secretary; Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary; and Peter Sands, Executive Director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
While much has changed, including the rise of former firm members going into roles around operations and manufacturing, some things have not. Alumni presence in financial services remains strong, and general management and strategy remain the most likely roles alumni will take on.
There is, however, one rising trend that could be a challenge to track.
“That’s our growing class of ‘boomerangers,’” says Heather. “These are alumni who return for a second stint at McKinsey, bringing their invaluable experiences to entrepreneurial firm roles and new opportunities to serve clients.”