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McKinsey & Co: The Professional Management Consultant

May 6, 2013

Starting out as a firm which provided finance and budgetary service McKinsey & Co. is now a globally respected consulting firm that has offered advice to private as well as public institutions.

James O. McKinsey was a University of Chicago accounting professor who opened James O. McKinsey & Company in 1926. He left his academic career to start the firm which would offer finance and budgetary services. The enterprise quickly developed a reputation for providing advice on organizational and management issues. Later McKinsey left the company to help one of the firm’s clients Marshall Field’s through its restructuring and became its Chairman and CEO.

One of the company hires in 1933, Marvin Bower became the eventual leader of McKinsey & Co more so with the unexpected death of McKinsey himself. Bower is credited with shaping what McKinsey is today, a professional management consulting firm.

Bower believed that management consulting should be held to the same high standards for professional conduct and performance as law and medicine.  He obtained his JD and MBA from Harvard University. Bower served as managing director until 1967. It was also during his leadership that McKinsey & Co. started hiring consultants straight out of business schools. Bower made a decision to hire and train young graduates when the practice during those days was to hire experienced professionals and mature executives.

Today McKinsey & Co. serves two-thirds of the Fortune 1000. It also provides consulting services to government and non-profit institutions.  In 2010 the privately held company had estimated revenue of $7 billion. It has 17,000 employees around the world with 9,000 of these being consultants. Over the decades the company has acquired deep knowledge and expertise in a wide range of industries. It spends a considerable amount of time in developing a knowledge base on a host of issues, topics and industries.

Beginning with finance and budgetary services McKinsey has deep knowledge and expertise in industries ranging from advanced electronics to travel. Many of the world’s top business leaders are alumni of this institution.

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