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Thorsten Schleyer


Supports machinery and plant engineering clients on strategic and operational topics such as product development, product portfolio, modularity and complexity management, R&D efficiency, and sales growth

Thorsten is fully dedicated to our machinery and industrial automation sector. His industrial focus is on machinery and plant engineering, his functional focus on operations esp.modularity, product-cost optimization, and product strategy. He is a member of our advanced industries sector and since 2013 leads McKinsey's cooperation  with the German Machinery Industry Association (VDMA) and coleads the machinery initiatives in Europe, where he also leads our modularity and product complexity efforts.

Besides serving his clients in Europe, he spends a significant share of his time in the United States, China, and Brazil. 

Examples of Thorsten’s recent work include the following:

  • product and production optimization project at a machinery and equipment manufacturer in Germany, China, and Brazil to improve direct cost position by 20–40 percent of all relevant machine parts and to regain market share outside of Europe
  • product management strategy program for a high-power manufacturer of diesel engines, gas engines, and other heavy equipment
  • modularization and standardization project at a machinery and equipment manufacturer in Germany to reduce variants by over 80 percent and improve direct cost position by 20–40 percent of all relevant machine parts
  • pre-diligences and due diligences in the area of rotating equipment manufacturing for both industrial organizations and private equity companies
  • large-scale global R&D efficiency transformation program, focusing on structuring the overall project and supporting all three workstreams, achieving a ten percent efficiency improvement in running fiscal year
  • task force at an European industrial company, focusing on a market-entry project for high-investment machinery equipment
  • supporting several projects in the machinery industry—including market entry, corporate strategy, and product development—in Europe, China, and Brazil

Prior to joining McKinsey, Thorsten worked for several major machinery companies. He holds a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Technical University of Munich.

Published work

Global Energy Perspective 2023: Industrial electrification outlook,” McKinsey & Company, January 2024

Waste not: Unlocking the potential of waste heat recovery,” McKinsey & Company, November 2023

European machinery companies: Achieving balance through innovation,” McKinsey & Company, September 2023

European machinery companies: Opportunities in recovery from crisis,” McKinsey & Company, December 2022

Identifying opportunities and starting to build a new green business in the industrial sector,” McKinsey & Company, October 2022

How the European machinery industry can emerge stronger from the pandemic,” McKinsey & Company, July 2021

The ascent of Nordic companies in the global machinery market,” McKinsey & Company, April 2021

Digitization: How machinery companies can meet customers’ expectations,” McKinsey & Company, September 2020

Margin pressure builds in the German machinery industry,” McKinsey & Company, August 2020

Making smart platforms stick,” McKinsey & Company, August 2020

Beyond COVID-19: Rapid steps that can help machinery and industrial automation companies recover,” McKinsey & Company, May 2020

How smart platforms can crack the complexity challenge in project industries,” McKinsey & Company, October 2019

Don’t just follow the money, lead it with a standard cost model,” McKinsey & Company, February 2018

Testing and validation: From hardware focus to full virtualization,” McKinsey & Company, November 2017

Past experience

MAN Truck & Bus

MAN Diesel & Turbo (now MAN Energy Solutions)



Technical University of Munich
MSc, mechanical engineering