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8 Compelling Reasons Why McKinsey Is So Prestigious

When I’ve asked lots of people in the world of consulting about which company stands out, McKinsey is the one that many view as the pinnacle of the industry. But why is McKinsey so prestigious? And why does it stand out as really having such a legacy in the industry?

I’ve been around consulting for the best part of a decade, and I’d say the main 8 reasons why McKinsey is seen as so prestigious are:

  1. Legacy and Longevity
  2. Global Reach and Influence
  3. Thought Leadership and Intellectual Capital
  4. Exceptional Talent Pool
  5. Esteemed Clientele
  6. Impactful Results
  7. Alumni Network and Influence
  8. Exit opportunities

In this post, I’ll dive deep into these 8 reasons! I’ll see what makes McKinsey the absolute Everest of the whole consulting world.

McKinsey and Company logo on a cell phone

1. Legacy and Longevity

McKinsey has been around (and been excellent) for a long time!

Its whole ethos is kind of rooted in legacy and longevity.

A little history lesson for you – the firm originated in 1926 when James O. McKinsey founded it. It was originally an accounting and engineering advisory firm (management consultancy didn’t really exist in the same way back then). (Source)

Over the decades, the company has evolved big-time! It has expanded its offerings, and become a prominent management consulting firm (as, of course, you know).

They’ve really been around the block, and have had to adapt to numerous economic cycles.

I’m a big fan of Quora consulting threads (a bit geeky I know), but I recently read one of their contributors saying, “They got enough right early enough to become the leading management consulting firm. After that, it’s mostly momentum. The leading firm attracts the best talent, and the best talent sustains the firm’s position as the leader.” (Source)

Their resilience has cultivated:

  • Trust among clients
  • Confidence
  • Faith that McKinsey is a partner capable of navigating complex business landscapes

McKinsey’s legacy is also about the impact they have had!

They have been instrumental in shaping management consulting as a profession.

Consultants who join now become part of this legacy. They inherit knowledge and values passed down over the generations!

2. Global Reach and Influence

McKinsey is a big player on the world stage. They have serious influence across multiple markets.

Let me just explain that they have 130 offices across 65 countries. The firm has strongly established itself as a truly multinational consulting firm. (Source)

Let’s dive a little deeper into the positive impacts of their global reach and influence:

1. Understanding and Navigating Diverse Markets

McKinsey has a deep understanding of diverse markets. Having global reach really helps this.

To be more specific, its wealth of insight and expertise help the firm to navigate:

  • Different regulatory frameworks – these differ from country to country, and even state to state
  • Cultural nuances – an absolute minefield, that expands in complexity all the time
  • Business environments

2. Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration

McKinsey is big on sharing and collaboration!

They like all their consultants to exist within a global network. The firm’s workforce shares information between:

  • Offices
  • Regions
  • Countries

This allows for exchanging ideas, experiences, and best practices. (Source)

3. Social Impact Initiatives on a Global Scale

McKinsey are also big on social impact initiatives. What does this mean?

Well, they aim to take on some projects that will benefit the local society through positive change. This is sometimes pro bono work.

McKinsey has had a meaningful impact in many industries, such as:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Economic development

3. Thought Leadership and Intellectual Capital

This is a biggie!

Thought leadership is one of the most important drivers behind McKinsey’s prestigiousness. The firm is committed to producing:

  • High-quality research
  • Reports
  • Insights

These all really set it apart in the consulting industry. (Source)

Here are some vital aspects that characterize McKinsey’s thought leadership:

1. Research Excellence

Lots of their research is market-leading.

McKinsey invests a substantial number of resources in this area. They conduct rigorous research and analysis!

McKinsey explores various topics, such as:

  • Emerging trends
  • Disruptive technologies
  • Strategic frameworks

They really have reached a state of ‘research superiority’, and this helps the prestige of the company.

Their clients and industry stake-holders recognize the depth and rigor of McKinsey’s efforts.

2. Innovative Thinking

McKinsey promotes the idea that their consultants are always thinking innovatively. They challenge conventional wisdom.

Their consultants:

  • Propose cutting edge strategies
  • Enhance the firm’s reputation
  • Showcase expertise
  • Solve complex challenges

4. Exceptional Talent Pool

This is a huge reason why McKinsey is so prestigious.

They are able to attract exceptional talent.

But how do they make this happen? Well, here’s a few of the key factors:

1. Rigorous Recruitment Process

McKinsey’s recruitment process is known for its rigor. It is a grueling selection process.

The firm is looking for:

  • Exceptional academic achievements
  • Diverse backgrounds
  • Track record of career excellence


Because the rate of applications are so high, McKinsey is able to be super-selective.

They want people that can contribute to their high-performing culture.

McKinsey Digital Assessment
McKinsey has a rigorous application process, including an in-depth ‘digital assessment’

2. Diverse Skill Sets and Perspectives

McKinsey are also clear that they are looking for diverse skill sets and perspectives. This is another key factor that adds to their prestigious reputation.

They want to provide holistic solutions to clients – and they can only do that with the widest possible skill base.

3. Global Opportunities

McKinsey works on global opportunities. This allows consultants a high level of challenge in different industries and markets worldwide. (Source)

This international element really does enhance their:

  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Their ability to address complex business issues

Moreover, the global nature of McKinsey’s work highlights the firm’s prestigious reputation as a trusted advisor to global organizations seeking guidance on international business strategies.

5. Esteemed Clientele

McKinsey works with some of the biggest players in the world, including Fortune 500 companies, government institutions, and non-profit organizations. 

Working with the elite creates a snowball effect. When others see high-level firms get positive outcomes via McKinsey’s work, then they regularly recommend them to their peers.

Reputable clientele also brings valuable opportunities for Professional development to those working at McKisney – the consultants.

And of course, these consultants often have:

  • Significant resources
  • Extensive expertise
  • Complex challenges

If you want to know about the allies contributing to making this firm a pinnacle of prestige, read this article, “8 of McKinsey’s Biggest Clients.” 

6. Impactful Results

At the end of the day, it’s all a results game!

And delivering impactful outcomes and things you can actually measure is what McKinsey do so well!

Here are some deliverables that have helped to enhance McKinsey’s prestige:

1. Problem-Solving Expertise

Problem solving is what McKinsey do best!

They employ all of the following:

  • A data-driven approach
  • They analyze complex challenges
  • They innovate solutions
  • Establish themselves as trusted advisors

2. Business Transformation

McKinsey dominates the niche of large-scale business transformation projects.

They can optimize operations, implement strategic initiatives, and all that jazz!

They particularly have a good track record in driving modifying their client’s organizations, particularly:

  • Performance
  • Market position
  • Success rate 

7. Alumni Networks and Influence

McKinsey has a huge alumni network!

The company has a vast network of former consultants who have achieved a lot of success. (Source)

These individuals do many things, such as:

  • Connect! (obviously)
  • Share insights
  • Discuss industry trends
  • Collaborate on projects and multiple new initiatives

The former employees also serve as a really valuable source of referrals. Many referrals are through mouth-to-mouth recommendations.

Such a network will:

  • Expand the company’s reach
  • Open doors to new business opportunities
  • Further enhance the firm’s reputation

The association works both ways. McKinsey maintains a strong relationship with its alumni. It offers them ongoing learning and development opportunities.

Alumni are often invited to:

  • Participate in events
  • Join training programs
  • Attend knowledge-sharing initiatives.

8. Exit Opportunities

Very few consultants last forever at a company. However, one of the factors that adds to McKinsey’s prestige is the possible exit opportunities they provide.

Consultants are known to have excellent prospects for career advancement after their tenure at the firm ends. (Source)

Here’s how this aspect enhances McKinsey’s reputation:

1. Career Acceleration

McKinsey consultants often accelerate through their career progression during service.

They learn skills rapidly!

As a result, they are highly sought after by employers.

2. Access to Top-Tier Opportunities

McKinsey employees often take on high-level roles following their exit from the company.

Here are the most common exit routes for McKinsey consultants:

  • Corporate Management
  • Finance and Banking
  • Nonprofits and NGOs
  • Start-ups
  • Public Sector

The following table ranks each of the big consultancy companies solely on their exit opportunities (scores are out of 10):

19.921McKinsey & Company
29.881Boston Consulting Group
39.804ClearView Healthcare Partners
49.730Bain & Company
59.562Putnam Associates



  • Will Bennett

    Will Bennett is a Cambridge graduate. He worked as a Consultant and Senior Consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in London. Will is the Founder of The Cambridge Consultant.