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McKinsey & Company Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

McKinsey & Company Australia Graduate Programs & Internships

  • Management Consulting

What it does: Management consulting: outside experts called in to help organisations achieve optimal performance and overcome business challenges.

Mission: To help our clients make distinctive, lasting, and substantial improvements in their performance and to build a great firm that attracts, develops, excites, and retains exceptional people.

Size and presence: Around 27,000 globally in more than 120 offices.

Best known for: McKinsey has built a reputation as the leader in the world of management consulting, describing itself as the “trusted advisor” to the “world's most influential businesses”. McKinsey is called upon to help solve their most pressing problems.

The good bits: Excellent training and career prospects at one of the world’s most prestigious, expensive, trusted, and secretive organisations. 

The not so good bits: A highly competitive corporate culture notorious for its ‘up-or-out’ policy.

The McKinsey & Company story

McKinsey & Company was founded in 1926 by accounting professor, James McKinsey. McKinsey was inspired by obvious inefficiencies he’d seen while touring military suppliers as an employee of the U.S. Army Ordnance Department. McKinsey’s vision, later developed by Martin Bowler, was to create a business that drew upon the principles of accounting, business, and management to help other organisations overcome various challenges to achieve optimal performance. 

Ninety-three years later, McKinsey & Company’s global success represents the fulfillment of James McKinsey’s dream. As one of the ‘Big Three’ management consulting firms, McKinsey & Company employs more than 27,000 people in 120 offices across the globe, with annual revenue in excess of $10 billion. It has been described by Fortune magazine as the ‘the most well-known, most secretive, most high-priced, most prestigious, most consistently successful, most envied, [and] most trusted [...] management consulting firm on earth’.

Culture & vibe

Historically, McKinsey’s culture has been one of the most heavily scrutinised aspects of the company. Critics have likened the company’s culture to a ‘religion’, in which employees are characterized by intense loyalty, unparalleled drive, and a high tolerance for ruthless competition. The Guardian has described it as a company at which ‘hours are long, expectations [are] high, and failure [is] not acceptable’. 

Thanks to McKinsey’s ‘up-or-out’ model of internal promotions, about one-fifth of its consultants depart each year—to continue moving towards senior positions, the remaining consultants must embrace a high-stakes ‘survival of the fittest’ culture that prizes commitment, exemplary performance, stamina, and loyalty.

A career at McKinsey & Company is a career in which you will be surrounded by some of the smartest, hardest working, and most ambitious members of the white-collar world. Accordingly, the vibe is stimulating and competitive, with truly exemplary graduates able to enjoy a rare environment in which they frequently enjoy the company of their intellectual peers. While critics have accused McKinsey & Company of fostering an undue degree of secrecy and competitiveness, it’s only fair to point out that long-time employees are fiercely committed to the company, with partners known to regard each other with ‘a sense of personal affection and admiration’.

Recruitment process

McKinsey is a famously selective organisation that predominantly hires elite graduates from the world’s top universities. It relies on its reputation alone to attract suitable candidates, and makes much of the fact that, with one exception in 1966, it’s never needed to advertise vacant positions. Why? Because people who wish to work at McKinsey often start planning years in advance, fully aware that, when their turn to apply comes around, competition will be extremely fierce.

The recruitment process at McKinsey begins on its global careers website, where interested candidates can take a quiz to find the career path at McKinsey that suits them best. They can then explore available positions or browse profiles of currently employed junior associates to learn more about the qualities that got them a job at McKinsey. 

After submitting a written application, candidates can expect a decision from McKinsey within four weeks. Successful candidates are invited to attend the first round of interviews, which comprises two or three 50-minute conversations that cover the candidate’s experience and expertise. The next round of interviews consists of three more 50-minute conversations. It’s worth noting that these interviews are no walk in the park: McKinsey has been described by Forbes as having the most difficult interviews of any company. The interviews aim to assess candidate across four categories: personal impact, entrepreneurial drive, problem solving skills, and leadership abilities. 

What makes McKinsey interviews so tough—aside from their comprehensiveness—are the case studies that candidates are expected to study before meeting with interviewers. As part of the interview process, candidates should also be prepared to complete a brief, 26-question quiz in which they analyse challenges faced by McKinsey’s real clients. For example, after reading about an initiative designed to reduce extreme poverty in Mexico by making financial services available through retail stores, candidates may face questions such as: ‘If all families could receive state benefits at their local Diconsa stores, how much in total per year would be saved across all Mexican rural families receiving state benefits?’

Although McKinsey is a management consulting firm, it hires graduates from a range of disciplines, allowing it to offer clients a variety of perspectives not always available from traditional business graduates. According to the company, more than one-third of McKinsey consultants don’t have business degrees, and about half don’t have MBAs. All graduate recruits complete a ‘Business Essentials’ program which equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to participate fully, whatever their academic background.

Career prospects

A graduate position at McKinsey can take you anywhere, whether you aim to fill a senior position within the company, such as a lucrative partnership, or take what you’ve learned and strike out on your own. 

If you choose the latter option, you’ll be in very good company: McKinsey alumni include countless high-level executives at companies like Google (CEO Sundar Pichai), Facebook (COO Sheryl Sandberg), the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CEO Ian Narev), Vodafone (CEO Vittorio Colao), and Boeing (CEO James McNerney). Indeed, McKinsey has been called a ‘CEO factory’, producing alumni that hold CEO positions at more than 150 organisations with over $1 billion in revenue and 15 organisations with more than $2 billion in annual revenue.

Choosing to remain at McKinsey and climb the corporate ladder after you complete your two to three year graduate program means committing to hard work and long hours in a notoriously high-pressure environment. McKinsey pioneered the ‘up-or-out’ model of internal advancement, whereby employees have a limited amount of time to pursue each promotion: failure to advance to a certain rank quickly enough results in their expulsion from the company.

For those who succeed, life at McKinsey can be terrifically rewarding. McKinsey invests more than $100 million a year in training, allowing employees to create a career that matches their skills and interests. Thanks to its global presence, McKinsey can offer its employees a lucrative, challenging, and prestigious international career. 


You can expect to earn more than the industry average salary for an entry-level consultant, with bonuses offered to strong performers. One 2019 report suggests that newly hired graduates at McKinsey earn a base salary of USD $85,000 (AUD $125,000, as of September 2019), with the company also offering up to $20,000 in bonuses and $2,000 to $10,000 in relocation assistance. Salaries soar as consultants move up in the company, with the average pay of junior partners hitting $730,000 in 2016.


Leave & holidays
⛔ Bonus annual leave
✅ Bonus parental leave
✅ Unpaid extended leave

Finance & contract
✅ Permanent employee
✅ Signing bonus
✅ Annual bonus
⛔ Stock options

Flexible work
⛔ Full remote work
✅ Partial remote work
✅ Flexible working hours

Family & health
⛔ Child care
✅ Free gym
⛔ Pet friendly office
✅ Mental health days

⛔ Hospital
⛔ Outpatient
⛔ Dental
⛔ Maternity

⛔ Free breakfast
⛔ Free lunch
✅ Free tea & coffee
✅ Free snacks
✅ Free dinner

Social Contributions

McKinsey & Company has a long-standing commitment to social responsibility. Each year, it supports more than 600 nonprofit organisations, from large operations like the Red Cross to local projects, such as providing education for refugees in Lebanon. Consultants are encouraged to use their skills to undertake pro bono work, which has led to McKinsey employees focusing their problem-solving abilities on high-profile emergencies like the refugee crisis in the Middle East, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.


Enron was the creation of Jeff Skilling a McKinsey consultant of 21 years, who was jailed after Enron collapsed. McKinsey reportedly "fully endorsed the dubious accounting methods that caused the company to implode in 2001. Enron reportedly used McKinsey on 20 different projects, and McKinsey consultants had "used Enron as their sandbox.

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