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Charag Krishnan

PartnerNew Jersey

Supports higher-education institutions on performance improvement programs, analytics, M&A, and financial sustainability

Charag is a partner in McKinsey’s education work. He helps higher education institutions change their trajectory through holistic performance transformations and M&A. He also works with clients on implementing workforce-development programs. His expertise includes strategies for improving enrollment, student success and retention, online learning, auxiliary revenues, and organizational capability building.

Charag has supported performance turnarounds of multiple institutions including a flagship state university and several mid-size liberal arts universities, helping these organizations identify areas of revenue growth through increased retention and enrollment rates as well as new academic offerings alongside cost optimization. He also led the performance diagnostics for two top-20 US universities to help inform their long-term growth strategy and has supported institutions on M&A diligence efforts. In India, Charag supported the rollout and scale of Generation, an independent nonprofit founded by McKinsey to help to address the global issue of youth unemployment.

Prior to joining McKinsey in 2014, Charag worked as a UNICEF Innovation Unit Fellow, and was part of the founding cohort of the Teach for India Fellowship, where he served as a primary school teacher for grades two and three at a low-income municipal school. He also previously led corporate social-responsibility projects with school districts for a large state-owned petroleum company.

Published Work

Spark & Sustain: How all of the world’s school systems can improve learning at scale,” McKinsey & Company, February 2024

How technology is shaping learning in higher education,” McKinsey & Company, June 2022

Using machine learning to improve student success in higher education,” McKinsey & Company, April 2022

How to transform higher-education institutions for the long term,” McKinsey & Company, March 2021

COVID-19 and US higher education enrollment: Preparing leaders for fall,” McKinsey & Company, May 2020

Best practices for an unusual US admissions cycle amid coronavirus,” McKinsey & Company, April 2020

Coronavirus: How should US higher education plan for an uncertain future?,” McKinsey & Company, April 2020

Universities 101: How universities can overcome financial headwinds to focus on their mission,” McKinsey & Company, 2019

Teach for India: Marketing an idea,” Kellogg Case Publishing and Harvard Business Publishing, 2014

Past Experience

Fellow, innovation unit

Bharat Petroleum Corporation
Corporate Social Responsibility Officer

Teach for India
Fellow, municipal school teacher - grades 2 and 3


Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management
MBA (Youn Scholar, Tata Scholar, Mahindra Scholar)

National Institute of Technology, India
BTech, electronics (NTSE Scholar)