Viewpoint: McKinsey & Company Starts Its Own Version of Bain’s Bridgespan

Monday, March 30, 2015

The announcement that Helene Gayle, the retiring CEO of CARE, was going to be inaugural CEO of the McKinsey Social Initiative struck us as noteworthy for reasons that other press outlets really haven’t covered.

Gayle is certainly an accomplished professional, having run CARE since 2006, and before that serving the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as its director of HIV/AIDS programs. In recruiting Gayle, McKinsey gets a professional who will be able, as Gayle told the ABC, “to leverage [her] experience working across the government, private philanthropy, NGO, and private sectors.”

One interesting dimension of the story is the huge McKinsey operation, with $8 billion in annual sales in 2013, forming its own nonprofit consulting firm, as MSI will be. McKinsey has long had a social sector practice, at one time headed by Lynn Taliento, and many McKinsey & Company alumni have had major direct impacts on the nonprofit world. Notable McKinsey alums include Luis Ubiñas, until recently the president and CEO of the Ford Foundation; Sir Ronald Cohen, the British venture capitalist who is a huge promoter of social enterprise tools and techniques such as Social Impact Bonds; Bill Drayton, the founder and chair of Ashoka; Jim Collins, author of Good to Great (and a past contributor to the pages of the Nonprofit Quarterly); Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of the B Lab that certifies “B Corporations”; Chelsea Clinton, most recently taking a leadership role in what is now the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation; Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the current HHS Secretary, previously a vice president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and president and CEO of the Walmart Foundation; and economist Peter Orszag, head of OMB under President Obama and previously with the Brookings Institution.

Some portion of McKinsey’s thinking on nonprofits is contained in the McKinsey on Society website, where there are essays and research summaries addressing topics such as how poor school systems can become good school systems and, not surprisingly, extolling the potential of social impact bonds. In other words, as a global management consulting firm, McKinsey has had a nonprofit practice carried out by some of its 19,000 staff in over 100 offices in 61 countries.

Source: Nonprofit Quarterly (link opens in a new window)

impact investing, philanthropy