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Building McKinsey Panama

Read more about: Emerging markets

Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Located on the isthmus linking North and South America, it serves as the geographic and transportation hub within Central America. We opened our first office in the country in December.

Partner Julio Giraut has been leading the charge to build it up.

"When I was asked if I would start this location, I jumped at the opportunity, but I’m not sure I completely understood what I was getting into.

"I’m originally Venezuelan. I joined the firm as a business analyst in Caracas, then left for two years to earn my MBA at Columbia University. When I returned, I was ready for a change of scenery. I re–joined in Bogota and served clients in Central American and the Caribbean on–and–off for several years. My colleagues and I saw a tremendous opportunity to build deeper, longer lasting relationships with our clients in Panama and more broadly in Central America and the Caribbean.

Julio inline 1

"When the office managers of Spanish Latam and Mexico approached me to see if I would be interested in opening an office in Panama City, it felt like a gift. I had always dreamed of starting a new location, building a team from scratch, and forging new relationships with clients. My wife and I were also excited to move back to warmer weather and beaches. I was a little nervous, but it only took us a night to accept the challenge.

"My family and I moved to Panama City in early August of 2017. I was the only McKinsey colleague on the ground. I spent most of my time working out of a local Starbucks, sipping my fill of dark roasts.

Julio inline 3

"The first thing I had to do was figure out the legal infrastructure. We needed to bring people in from various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to properly serve our clients, so that made visa processes especially complicated. Next, I started to look for a home for our new office and to recruit, internally and externally.

"As word spread about our new location, colleagues from around the world started reaching out to me with suggestions and connections. It was an overwhelming show of support and a hugely helpful asset. Things moved rapidly from then on.

"Now, we have 30 people committed to join our office; 20 of them are here already. The president of Panama received us when managing partner Dominic Barton came for a visit and our client base has been steadily expanding.

Julio inline 2

"The best part of this fantastic adventure has been the insight it has given me to the strength of my firm and my family. My colleagues have been singularly focused on making sure we do things right. I’m not pressured for results in terms numbers of clients, people hired, etc. I’m guided to make sure what I’m doing is meaningful and of the highest quality always guided by our values. That wouldn’t be the case in most organizations. And on a personal note, this move has brought my family closer together. My wife, daughter and I spend more time together and rely on each other more. We’re on a fantastic adventure, and I can’t wait to see where it leads next."

Learn more about roles in Panama

More about Julio

A mechanical engineer by training, Julio has come to be a bit of a torero or jack of all trades in Latin America. He tends to work mostly marketing & sales across industries. In his free time, Julio is enjoying Panama, travelling often to nearby beaches. Also, with some colleagues at the office he sign on for a Spartan Race in October, so cross fit has become kind of a hobby. As he stated I’m far from being a sporty person, but this race is giving us the motivation to train and get in shape.

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