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Three reasons veterans excel at McKinsey

McKinsey’s culture mirrors that of the military in three ways that help veterans feel comfortable and find success.

When military professionals begin their lives as civilians, the transition is not always easy. It’s difficult to find the same sense of comradery, meaningful work, and values-based culture in another organization.

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Husband and wife team, Wes and Paige, both veterans and McKinsey consultants (Paige is now an alumna of the firm).

McKinsey, however, has always been passionate about recruiting and retaining veterans. They are sharp problem-solvers who are energized by serving others and working in teams. Our founder, James O. McKinsey, fought in the US Army in World War I. Former managing partner, Ron Daniel, served in the US Navy. Now, nearly 300 veterans of the US military and forces in more than a dozen countries worldwide call McKinsey home. Here are the top three parallels between McKinsey and the military, which help veterans at the firm to feel comfortable and to succeed:

1. McKinsey’s values shape our culture and decisions

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Alejandra in front of the US National Mall.

When Alejandra started as an associate general counsel in Boston, she knew she was joining an organization of intelligent, successful, and talented individuals. She did not anticipate how strong McKinsey’s commitment to its values really is: “Values were central to my former life as a US Naval officer. ‘Honor, Courage, and Commitment;’ ‘Ship, Shipmate, Self’ were the creeds that guided every action, big or small. Just as in the Navy, McKinsey’s values have guided my decisions at the firm. We are in client service, which can lead to high-pressure, time-sensitive activities that require excellence. Using our values as a guide and working with values-driven teammates has enabled professionalism, even in challenging situations. McKinsey even hosts an annual Values Day during which operations shut down and firm members reflect on and recommit to our shared values.”

Genevieve, a partner in Toronto and veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy, shares Alejandr’’s sentiments. Learn how the fact that McKinsey’s values aligned with those of the Royal Military College made her feel at home here.

Genevieve on values.













2. The work we do matters at community, country, and global levels

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Brian hiking in the North Cascades.

Consider Brian’s story. He joined McKinsey as an associate in Seattle, “because it offered the opportunity to embed myself in a variety of difficult problems in a short period of time. My previous job in the military was as a helicopter pilot, which meant my crew and I could be called upon for a multitude of reasons, such as moving cargo, searching for someone lost at sea, defending our ship against enemy attack, or transporting medical personnel on humanitarian missions. During one deployment to the South Pacific, we flew medical teams into remote mountain villages during the day and conducted emergency medical evacuations for individuals with life threatening conditions at night. No day – or night – was the same and that was exhilarating.

“When I left the military, I didn’t know which industry to enter. I wanted to retain the impactful missions and fast-paced, team-based environment – two things I found at McKinsey. Within my first six months, I have helped frame a new market opportunity for an athletic retailer, strategized a potential merger for an institutional asset manager, and improved supply chain coordination for an aerospace manufacturer. I have learned much more in this time than I would have working anywhere else. I can’t wait to see what challenges are next.”

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Jen's promotion ceremony.

Similarly, Jen, an implementation consultant and former member of the US Navy, found her calling to coach clients: “I was serving a mining client, helping the company increase equipment reliability during an overall maintenance transformation. At the start of the project, workers lacked many of the tools they needed to complete their jobs and felt management didn’t listen to their recommendations. I helped managers pinpoint breakdowns in the current maintenance program and worked with the maintenance team to better train employees on best practices. We implemented shift huddles to review equipment status, job assignments, and lessons learned, creating a culture of continuous improvement. The organization’s bottom line improved and the frontline employees felt empowered to make their company a better place. It was some of the most motivating work I’ve ever done.”

3. We have a strong community of Veterans@McKinsey to support and mentor you along the way

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Liz and her husband both served in the US Army and endured two years of separation while deployed.

When Liz, now a partner in Stamford, joined McKinsey more than 10 years ago, the affinity group for those who had served in the military was taking off. “Like many,” she reminisces, “my transition from military officer to civilian consultant was not easy. I became passionate about building the Veterans@McKinsey network so we had community of brothers and sisters in arms who shared a common experience and could sponsor and mentor each other. That community has grown to nearly 300 colleagues around the world. It is deeply important and impactful to me. One of my closest mentors, Alex, is a veteran of the US Marines and a leader in the group. He helped me through tough times in my career, picking me up when I’ve been down, dusting me off, and giving me the courage to alter my areas of focus so they better align with my skills and passion.”

Children Fallen Patriots
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Veterans@McKinsey regularly get together for fun, community service, and networking. For example, in early October, group members in New York hosted 30 scholarship recipients from the Children of Fallen Patriots. Our McKinsey colleagues introduced the students to consulting and our firm and provided career counseling and general support.

The group has also held two conferences. Listen to Jack, an associate partner in Atlanta, describe them.

Jack describes the importance of our Veterans@McKinsey network and conferences.







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Wes and his daughter

Meet more of our veterans including Wes and Kelemwork.

Learn more about Veterans@McKinsey

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