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Richard Elder

Senior Partner, Washington DC
Uses his extensive private- and public-sector experience to help global industrial and aerospace and defense organizations develop new strategies and implement large-scale transformations

About Richard

Richard is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Washington, DC office. He is a leader in our Industrial, Public Sector, and Organization practices.

In addition to working with public-sector defense and security organizations, Richard serves capital-intensive industrial companies in the fields of power generation, chemicals, steel, shipbuilding, aircraft manufacturing, explosives, and basic manufacturing. He focuses on helping clients address performance-related issues through changes to their strategy, operations, and organization.

Examples of Richard’s recent work include:

  • Helping a chemicals manufacturer to develop a new go-to-market strategy, including changing the sales coverage model, developing a new distribution channel strategy, and constructing new customer value propositions
  • Advising a global metals manufacturer on how to reduce its cost base and change the organization to ensure the sustainability of the new model
  • Supporting a federal agency in evaluating and improving its field intelligence operations, redesigning roles and responsibilities, and building program management and talent management capabilities
  • Advising a defense agency on how to develop its human-capital strategy and improve its marketing and recruitment
  • Helping a defense agency develop a new methodology for understanding and deciding on key strategic trade-offs.

As a leader in our Organization Practice, Richard helps to advance McKinsey’s thinking on how to diagnose and improve organizational health and culture. He is also one of the founders of our organizational analytics group and has helped clients develop new leadership development programs, diagnose and design performance-improvement programs for thousands of global employees, and modify corporate center functions.

Before joining McKinsey, Richard was a program and technical manager for the US Air Force, where he helped design the world’s largest ground-based satellite tracking system. He holds a BS in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA with honors from the Darden School at the University of Virginia.

In his spare time, Richard serves on the board of the nonprofit organization Athletes for Hope and is active with the Boy Scouts.


McKinsey conversations with global leaders: David Rubenstein of The Carlyle Group,” McKinsey Quarterly, May 2010

Published work

Launching Axalta: An interview with Charlie Shaver,” McKinsey on Chemicals, August 2018

A dynamic strategy for uncertain times” (PDF–488 KB), McKinsey on Government, Spring 2010


University of Virginia
MBA in business administration

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
BS in mathematics