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Nicolai Chen Nielsen

Expert Associate Partner, New York
Supports clients in developing the leadership capacity, capabilities, and culture required to execute their strategies and achieve better business results

About Nicolai

Nicolai, a leader of McKinsey Academy, advises clients in both the private and public sectors on leadership development, culture change, capability building, and agile transformations. He is passionate about enabling transformations at the individual, organization, and country levels as well as improving leadership capabilities in organizations.

Examples of his recent client work include the following:

  • designing a leadership-development program for the top 1,000 leaders of a major telecommunications company to help them align with the new organizational vision, values, and strategy
  • assessing capability gaps in achieving the strategic aspirations of a ministry, and designing and delivering a large-scale capability-building program reaching more than 20,000 employees
  • conducting a comprehensive culture diagnostic, designing interventions, and delivering a culture-change program for a regional energy company
  • designing and launching a large-scale conglomerate’s corporate academy, which included a new groupwide talent-management framework, culture program, and leadership-development program

Nicolai leads McKinsey’s latest research on developing leadership across organizations. He is the coauthor of the book Leadership at Scale: Better Leadership, Better Results (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, December 2018) and has also published several articles on leadership development.

Nicolai is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community, a group that focuses on collaborating to address local, regional, and global issues.

Published 2ork

A transformation of the learning function: Why it should learn new ways,” McKinsey & Company, September 2020

Tuning in, turning outward: Cultivating compassionate leadership in a crisis,” McKinsey & Company, May 2020

Leadership at Scale: Better Leadership, Better Results, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, December 2018

Unlocking leadership potential in turbulent times,” Leadership & Organization Blog, April 23, 2018

What’s missing in leadership development,” McKinsey Quarterly, August 2017

Past experience

A.P. Moller – Maersk
Business Analyst


HEC Paris
CEMS MIM, international management

Copenhagen Business School
MS, applied economics and finance
BS, international business and politics