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Talent & Capability Building

Helping A&D organizations create the right culture for their people, design the right structure, and attract and retain the right talent


As the pandemic transforms how businesses operate, aerospace and defense (A&D) companies must rethink ways of working and reimagine organizational structures as rapidly as possible or risk being left behind. For example, as they develop new strategies, talent retention and recruitment may become one of their greatest challenges, due to fierce competition for employees with top skills from tech players and others.

We help companies refresh their talent strategy by evaluating whether their top employees are appropriately assigned to critical roles, reskilling current staff to meet future needs, working to increase diversity, and directly involving company leadership in talent management. We work with clients to develop a targeted sourcing strategy informed and supported by data and analytics. These efforts—combined with a better plan to show potential employees how exciting A&D tech projects can be—will create a workforce that is ready and able to lead even the most complex initiatives.

What we do

Workplace reinvention

Businesses are evolving rapidly as they incorporate new technologies into their traditional processes, and COVID-19 is accelerating the pace of change. We help A&D companies reimagine the workplace and develop innovative new processes, always considering the challenges unique to their industry, including the need for complete security.

Talent strategy

Only about 30 to 43 percent of A&D employees have digital and analytics skills, compared with 62 percent at tech companies. With the race for top digital talent intensifying every year, A&D companies need a new approach to recruitment and retention. By applying advanced analytics, we can help them identify the best sources of talented employees, as well as the career paths and benefits that will convince them to stay.

Creation of a strong workplace culture

A&D companies that want to retain employees must have a strong culture that encourages collaboration, leadership, innovation, and personal growth. McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index (OHI) can help them determine how they score on nine dimensions that contribute to a strong company culture, such as leadership, capabilities, accountability, and innovation and learning. After benchmarking themselves against their peers, A&D companies can design interventions that will improve their organizational health and make them more attractive to employees.

Organizational speed

We help A&D companies deploy fast, agile, cross-functional teams that work toward common objectives. The teams are each charged with a specific mission and are empowered to create their own approach. Employees that want freedom to innovate and develop their own solutions thrive on such teams. Once A&D companies have multiple agile teams, their entire organization will become more efficient.
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Featured Capability

Org Solutions

OrgSolutions applies data and rigor to the most important organizational decisions.

Featured Experts

Philip Barber
Helps complex organisations design, implement, and manage large-scale transformations to increase effectiveness, deliver impact, and improve organisational capabilities and culture
Frank Coleman III
Serves Industrial clients on strategy and M&A, driven by value creation fundamentals and underpinned by complex technology investments
Björn Hagemann
Senior Partner
Creates sustainable impact and performance improvement in companies through operational, organizational, digital, and advanced analytics transformations
Dana Maor
Senior Partner
Coheads the People & Organizational Performance Practice globally and leads it across Europe. Passionate about shaping organizations to compete, driving lasting transformational change, transforming talent, and unlocking leadership within client organizations, McKinsey, and society
Varun Marya
Senior Partner
Helps aerospace, defense, and private-equity companies enhance value by transforming their organizations and accelerating their performance
Michael Park
Senior Partner
Coleads the People & Organizational Performance Practice and partners with leaders to shape strategy, improve performance, and drive lasting change by making talent a competitive advantage and establishing an organization fit for the future
Rob Theunissen
Helps companies succeed in transformational change by defining new strategies, improving organizational health, promoting culture change, and achieving greater enterprise agility
Brooke Weddle
Drives lasting change at scale for global organizations through digital transformation, operating-model redesign, enterprise agility, and leadership development

Featured Insights


Seizing the moment: Talent challenges and opportunities in aerospace and defense

– Aerospace and defense companies face tough competition when recruiting talent. How can they reinvigorate the pipeline?
Interview - McKinsey Quarterly

Reenergizing an exhausted organization: A conversation with Admiral John Richardson

– The former chief of naval operations suggests strategies for leaders to avoid burnout and prevent pandemic fatigue.

Organizing for speed in advanced industries

– Faced with the COVID-19 crisis, companies in advanced industries have become more nimble and accelerated decision making. How can they retain this speed once the pandemic abates?

Call to action: How A&D companies can build the workforce of the future

– In light of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the aerospace and defense sector is reimagining talent management to boost critical digital skills.

To lead in the postcrisis tomorrow, put leadership and capabilities in place today

– Amid the crisis, companies have learned to work faster and manage better. Strategies that continually refresh those lessons through people will define winners in the post-COVID-19 era.

General James Mattis on leading in a crisis and thriving in the next normal

– The former US defense secretary shares lessons on how to emerge from the pandemic and prepare for what comes next, in a conversation with McKinsey global managing partner Kevin Sneader.

The importance of talent and culture in tech-enabled transformations

– The right combination of talent and culture can help industrial companies set up effective technology functions.

Related Practice

People & Organizational Performance

We work shoulder-to-shoulder with our clients to ensure their organizations are capable of achieving the transformation they want and sustaining it for years to come.

Connect with our Aerospace & Defense Practice