What is McKinsey and Why Does it Matter?

The Story:

The more Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Indiana, rises into prominence in the Democratic Party’s primary campaign, the more his three years of employment at a notorious business consultancy, McKinsey & Co., come into focus as a mystery, or at least as an anti-Buttigieg talking point.


McKinsey is a partnership founded in the 1920s by James O. McKinsey, who had the idea of applying cutting-edge accounting ideas to businesses.

The partnership has become notorious in more recent times because some of its alumni have played a big part in corporate America’s largest scandals. Jeffrey Skilling, for example, was a partner at McKinsey in the 1980s, until Ken Lay hired him to work at Enron, where he became associated with that energy derivatives’ company’s meteoric rise and fall.

Rajat Gupta was the managing director of McKinsey from 1994 to 2003. Gupta was later convicted of insider trading and spent two years in confinement.

The Thing to Know:

Under pressure over the secrecy of his own time at McKinsey, Mayor Buttigieg, on December 7, 2019, released a list of projects he worked on during his time there (2007-09). We may all end up learning much more as ‘opposition research’ gets to work on that list.

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