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Michael Birshan

Senior Partner, London
Leads our Strategy & Corporate Finance Practice across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, partnering with bold and determined leaders to set strategy, transform organizations, and deliver value

About Michael

Michael leads McKinsey’s Strategy & Corporate Finance Practice across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. He also serves on the McKinsey Global Institute council, which advises on MGI’s research on global economic, business, and technology trends.

Michael partners with bold and determined executives to set strategy, transform organizations, and deliver value. He has served companies around the world at the board and executive-committee levels across a diverse set of industries, as well as institutions in the public and social sectors, and his work is often shaped by insights and analogies from other contexts. Michael’s deepest sector expertise is in energy, natural resources, and industrials, where he works with several of the leading global organizations across their agenda.

Examples of his recent client work include the following:

  • serving an energy major on transforming its financial performance and organizational health, embracing digital, and becoming agile
  • supporting a global natural-resources company on defining its purpose, refreshing its strategy, changing its approach to stakeholder engagement, and taking out billions of dollars of cost
  • working with a leading industrial company on setting its strategy, conducting M&A, managing performance, building functional excellence, and improving the effectiveness of its top team

Michael is passionate about helping talented executives to succeed as individuals–particularly as they take on new roles–and coleads McKinsey’s research on CEO excellence. His perspectives on strategy, finance, and CEO transitions have been published and cited in the McKinsey Quarterly, Harvard Business Review, and Financial Times, among other leading publications. He is also the author of the McKinsey Global Institute’s publication, Superstars: The dynamics of firms, sectors, and cities leading the global economy.

Michael has a strong interest in education and serves as a governor of the Royal College of Art and on the advisory board of King’s Business School. He has also been a trustee of the World Schools Debating Championships, a governor of Brentford School for Girls, and a commissioner of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission. In 2016, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Before joining McKinsey, Michael was an aide to a US congressman and to a Canadian member of parliament, and a member of the British national debating team.

Based in London, Michael previously worked in McKinsey’s San Francisco and Mumbai offices.

Published work

Memo to the CFO: A new approach to 2021 budgeting starts now,” McKinsey & Company, September 2020

Risk, resilience, and rebalancing in global value chains,” McKinsey Global Institute, August 2020

How new CEOs can manage for the future,” McKinsey & Company, March 2020

The secret to unlocking hidden value in the balance sheet,” McKinsey & Company, March 2020

Short-term pain for long-term gain: The new CEO’s dilemma,” McKinsey Quarterly, April 2019

What every CEO needs to know about ‘superstar’ companies,” McKinsey Global Institute, April 2019

What’s driving superstar companies, industries, and cities,” Harvard Business Review, October 2018

‘Superstars’: The dynamics of firms, sectors, and cities leading the global economy,” McKinsey Global Institute, October 2018

Closing the gender gap: A missed opportunity for new CEOs,” McKinsey Quarterly, October 2018

Transforming the culture of managing working capital,” McKinsey & Company, January 2018

A deal-making strategy for new CEOs,” McKinsey Quarterly, April 2017

How functional leaders become CEOs,” McKinsey Quarterly, April 2017

What makes a CEO ‘exceptional’?,” McKinsey Quarterly, April 2017

Is your company underperforming? Use the full CEO playbook,” Strategy & Corporate Finance blog, March 2017

How insider CEOs can gain the outsider’s edge,” Strategy & Corporate Finance blog, November 2016

CEO transitions: The science of success,” McKinsey Quarterly, August 2016

Lessons for new CEOs: Go big, go fast, or go home,” Strategy & Corporate Finance blog, June 2016

How new CEOs can boost their odds of success,” McKinsey Quarterly, May 2016

The cement industry at a turning point: A path toward value creation,” McKinsey & Company, December 2015

Is there hidden treasure in the mining industry?,” McKinsey & Company, November 2015

What makes a great chief strategy officer,” Harvard Business Review, May 2015

Rethinking the role of the strategist,” McKinsey Quarterly, November 2014

What strategists need: A meeting of the minds,” McKinsey Quarterly, September 2014

Preparing to make big-ticket investment decisions,” McKinsey & Company, July 2014

Get the strategy you need—now,” Harvard Business Review, November 2013

Ten techniques for agile corporate resource allocation,”, October 2013

Avoiding the quicksand: Ten techniques for more agile corporate resource allocation,” McKinsey Quarterly, October 2013

If you snooze, you lose: flexible, strategic finance,” Finance Director Europe, May 2013 (interview)

Becoming more strategic: Three tips for any executive,” McKinsey Quarterly, June 2012

Creating more value with corporate strategy: McKinsey Global Survey results,” McKinsey & Company, January 2011


Harvard Business School
MBA (Baker Scholar)

University of Oxford (Balliol College)
MA, philosophy, politics, and economics