Back to

Sarah Kleinman

Partner, Washington DC
Designs and manages large-scale, end-to-end organizational transformations, ensuring that structures, processes, and people are all working to support organizations’ strategies

About Sarah

Sarah helps clients address organizational challenges, drawing on her deep expertise in organization design. She helps leaders pull both soft and hard change levers, truly transforming how their organizations operate. This work includes putting in place new cultures and ways of working, while also improving structures, processes, governance approaches, and decision-making mechanisms.

While Sarah has particular expertise in working in complex governmental environments, she has led organizational transformations in both the public and private sectors. In the public sector, she has worked with the leaders of 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 transformations.

Sarah uses metrics and other tools to assess organizational design and inform design recommendations and implementation plans. She has experience in engaging the workforce at all levels to co-create new organizational constructs, increasing buy-in 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 organizational improvements, including a major redesign and strategic workforce planning
  • improving speed, collaboration, and decision quality for a major government agency by designing and implementing new governance and decision-making processes and fora
  • helping a large health insurer redesign its service operations as part of a broader organizational- transformation effort
  • developing the organizational 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.

Sarah is McKinsey's partner sponsor of recruiting for Global Scholars.

Published Work

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

Executive director

Multiple social-sector organizations


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

Stanford University
MA, sociology
BA, history