Helping companies set their strategy

What makes McKinsey work the best?

The thing that I appreciate most about McKinsey is that I am able to work on any topic that gives me energy and purpose. For me, that is strategy – advising organizations on how to make important decisions when faced with uncertainty about the future. I’ve been fortunate to spend the better part of the last decade serving clients across industries and in more than 30 countries. My favorite projects are those in which our clients ask us to help them figure out what their portfolios should look like in the medium term; they want to understand which business areas and geographies should they exit and enter to create the most value.

In addition to my client work, I also led research for our latest book, Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick. We set out to quantify what does and doesn’t work in strategy setting. We uncovered 10 measurable variables that explain 80% of long-term corporate value creation, including five big moves that can fundamentally transform corporate performance. My hope is that companies will use these empirical insights to calibrate the likelihood of their strategies’ success before committing to them.

My career journey

I attended the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa where I received both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering. After graduation, I spent a year playing cricket in Italy before returning to Cape Town to put my degrees to work.

Nic and his wife on the beach
Nic and his wife on the beach

Engineer or not, I always had a keen interest in finance and economics. One day, I came across a McKinsey recruiting advert in a local economics weekly. They were looking for engineers to join the Johannesburg office. The idea of working all around the world on important business topics really excited me. My application was successful and I joined McKinsey in 2010 as an associate. After a few years of working as a generalist consultant on a broad range of topics, I decided to start specializing in corporate strategy, my true intellectual passion. Since then, I have led more than 50 projects on related topics across many industries in both Africa and Europe, and have worked on several research projects, including the firm’s latest strategy book, Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick. I was elected partner in December 2016 and moved to our Brussels office in March 2018 in search of a new professional adventure and to be closer to my wife, Laurence’s, family (she is Belgian).

In January 2020, I took on a new role as a research fellow in our global Strategy practice. I wanted to spend more time researching corporate strategy topics like I did for Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick. I now lead multiple research teams around the world and regularly speak to clients about the findings of our work. It is so much fun!

How do you spend your time outside of work?

First and foremost, I like to spend my time in endless conversation with my wife, Laurence. We have a similar world view and share many common interests, so we have a lot to discuss. I also really enjoy sharing good food and wine with close friends. I spend the rest of my time reading (everything!), boxing (I am an average amateur boxer that is 1-1) and collecting LPs (I LOVE the Blues and 70s rock / folk).

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