This is a profile image of John Dowdy

John Dowdy

Senior PartnerWashington DC

Helps aerospace and defence organisations improve operations and identify growth opportunities, and works with defence forces to transform their performance

John Dowdy is a senior partner in McKinsey’s London office. He combines client service to aerospace companies and public-sector defence organisations with substantial research efforts.

John brings more than 25 years of experience to his work helping prime and sub-contractors navigate the cycles endemic to the defence industry. He has contributed to several organisational restructuring efforts, advising contractors on acquisition strategy, pre-merger planning and post-merger integration as they contend with sharp fluctuations in programme and defence budgets. He recently led projects to optimise purchasing and supply-chain management for an aviation parts manufacturer and advised other aerospace and defence firms on growth and corporate strategy.

A prolific author, John is widely recognised as an industry expert. While based in California, he directed McKinsey’s joint research project with Stanford University on the global defence electronics industry, yielding some of the first quantitative data on the financial and operational benefits of procurement reform. More recently he led our benchmarking study of 33 defence forces around the world, capturing and dissecting major differences in efficiency and effectiveness in the conversion of defence inputs into operational outputs.

John speaks regularly on topics ranging from the use of commercial practices in the defence industry to the competitive realities in aerospace markets. He has contributed numerous perspectives on aerospace and defence topics to publications including the Financial Times, Aviation Week & Space Technology, Jane’s, Foreign Policy and the Wall Street Journal. He has a degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard. He is a licensed pilot.

Published work

Aerospace and defense spending: What will be the next normal?,” McKinsey & Company, May 2020

Defense outlook 2017: A global survey of defense-industry executives,” McKinsey & Company, April 2015

Why management matters for productivity,” McKinsey Quarterly, September 2014

Fiscal shock, combat awe,” McKinsey & Company, June 2014

Enlisting productivity to reinforce European defense,” McKinsey & Company, August 2013

Managing a downturn: How the US defense industry can learn from its past,” McKinsey & Company, April 2013

Defense outlook 2015: A global survey of defense-industry executives,” McKinsey & Company, April 2013

The cybersecurity threat to US growth and prosperity,” Cyberspace: A new domain for national security, Aspen, 2012 (PDF–468 KB)

Private sector development in Afghanistan: The doubly missing middle,” American interests in South Asia, 2011 (PDF–426 KB)

An expert view on defense procurement,” McKinsey on Government, 2010 (PDF–272 KB)


Harvard Business School

University of California at Berkeley
BS, electrical engineering and computer science