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Sarah Kleinman

Partner, Washington DC

Designs and leads large-scale performance and health transformations, particularly with government agencies, to ensure that structures, processes, and people work to support organizations’ strategies

Sarah

Sarah is a leader in our Public & Social Sector Practice, where she helps clients in the defense and security space undergo strategic transformations. Drawing on her deep expertise in people and organizational performance, Sarah specializes in helping large, complex, mission-driven organizations create step changes in performance by making operational shifts. This work includes helping her clients set higher aspirations and put new ways of working, structures, processes, governance approaches, and decision-making mechanisms in place.

While Sarah has expertise working in complex governmental environments, she has also led major transformations in both the public and private sectors. In the public sector, she has worked with government agencies to pursue fundamental change by breaking down silos and shifting workplace cultures. For commercial enterprises, she has designed and implemented new organizational structures and ways of working to boost performance. She brings a change-management lens to all her work, focusing on creating long-term, sustainable improvements.

Sarah uses metrics and other tools to support enterprise performance transformations. She also has experience in engaging the workforce at all levels to cocreate solutions, increasing buy-ins, and accelerating change.

Examples of Sarah’s recent client work include the following:

  • redesigning a major military organization, building an end-to-end operating model transformation with a focus on structure, process, and people levers
  • transforming the performance of a major government program through operational and organizational improvements, including strategic workforce planning
  • improving speed, collaboration, and decision quality for a major government agency by designing and implementing new governance and decision-making processes
  • helping a large pharmaceutical and consumer company redesign its service operations as part of a broader transformation effort
  • developing the blueprint for a subsidiary of a large manufacturer to become a stand-alone enterprise and successfully compete in a commodity market

Before joining McKinsey, Sarah worked as a consultant for several social-sector organizations focusing on health, policy, and sustainability. She also performed research on organizational design and performance in international institutions as part of her PhD dissertation.

Sarah is a Rhodes Scholar with degrees from Oxford and Stanford Universities. She is McKinsey's partner sponsor of recruiting for Global Scholars.

Published Work

Mission critical: Improving government workforce planning,” McKinsey & Company, September 2022

Mission not meetings: How government leaders could avoid self-sabotage,” McKinsey & Company, June 2022

Fitter, flatter, faster: How unstructuring your organization can unlock massive value,” blog entry, McKinsey & Company, August 2020

Four considerations for helix success beyond structure (part three),” blog entry, McKinsey & Company, August 2020

What does a helix reorganization look like? (part two),” blog entry, McKinsey & Company, August 2020

Become flexible and speed up with a helix model (part one),” blog entry, McKinsey & Company, July 2020

4 steps to quickly create a network of teams,” blog entry, McKinsey & Company, April 2020

To weather a crisis, build a network of teams,” McKinsey & Company, April 2020

The helix organization”, McKinsey Quarterly, October 2019

Bridging the gap between a company’s strategy and operating model, McKinsey & Company, May 2019

Past Experience

The Obama Foundation
Deputy chief program officer; director, program strategy

FACE AIDS
Executive director

Multiple social-sector organizations
Consultant

Education

University of Oxford
PhD, international relations (Rhodes Scholar)
MA, international relations

Stanford University
MA, sociology
BA, history