McKinsey serves clients across a broad range of industries along six areas of the operations value chain (e.g., product development, manufacturing) to achieve world-class, operational excellence. We are always interested in talking with potential candidates who want to work in China.
We are often asked what kind of operations work we do, and what qualifications we look for in applicants. We asked Martin Lehnich, the Head of the Greater China Operations Practice, what you can expect when you join our Operations Practice.
Q: What is the Operations Practice, and what type of work do you do?
Martin: You probably know McKinsey is the biggest strategy consultancy. But did you know that more than a third of our work is operations related? We are a global practice, with a strong and growing presence across Asia. You would be joining a team of more than 500 global Ops practitioners with diverse backgrounds and expertise.
Our work in operations covers six distinct areas across the whole operations value chain – ranging from product design to customer experience. We work in every industry, from high tech and telecom, to services, such as banking and infrastructure. So even if you have deep expertise in supply chain for consumer products, here you can learn more about a different area, such as service operations in insurance. You will have many opportunities to develop new skills and acquire new knowledge beyond your current expertise.
Q: What do you look for in a candidate?
Martin: First, we look for expertise in one or more operations-related functions, such as Lean manufacturing, supply chain management, or service operations. We also look at skills. Are you good at working with people from different backgrounds and very different experiences? Do you like to solve complex, challenging problems in a fast-paced, dynamic environment? If you do, you could be the person we are looking for. We don’t necessarily require an MBA or consulting experience, since we have extensive learning programs tailored to your interests and expertise.
Q: How will you help new hires to be successful?
Martin: I think you will find almost immediately after starting at McKinsey that it feels like you are joining a family who genuinely cares about you and your future.
We are proud of our professional development programs, including mentorship and a buddy system, to ensure that from day one you are in good hands. And you will have a lot of flexibility in choosing your mentor who can help you navigate your career. I can say this has been essential to me personally for my own growth and sense of fulfillment.
In addition, operations has over the years refined and developed specialized learning programs based on functional expertise—for example, in procurement diagnostics or predictive maintenance. We also provide general skill-building learning for basics, such as communications and project management.
Q: How do you serve clients in Greater China?
Martin: We serve China SOEs, family-owned businesses, multinationals, and privately-owned companies [GL4] on operations topics across a wide range of industries, as mentioned already.
In China, as in Asia and other parts of the globe, operations is innovating our capabilities and the way we serve clients. For example, we have acquired internationally-renowned design firms LUNAR and Veryday, giving us the ability to help clients design world-class products. On the other end of the product development process, our DtV (Design-to-Value) lab in Taipei helps clients to optimize cost, typically using product teardowns.
We are also very excited about our recent partnerships with leading institutions and companies to develop Digital Capability Centers (DCCs). Our launch of the DCC in Beijing in partnership with Tsinghua University (which we formally announced on April 21, 2017), and one of five DCCs globally, will provide a working model factory to test new technologies and develop digital capabilities in a safe environment.
Q: What are some of the interesting problems we solve for Chinese clients?
Martin: I’m sure you already know that China serves as a key manufacturing base for the world. But its capabilities are now under challenge with globalization, geo-political pressures, and volatility. In this environment, our clients here need to improve their lean manufacturing capabilities and productivity even more.
If digital excites you, Industry 4.0 is another area where we are helping clients develop operational strategies and digital capabilities. These range from robotics and automation, to building the skills and organization needed to support them.
Another interesting area for our clients is services. China’s rapid e-commerce adoption has now surpassed that of many countries. Understanding customer experiences and behavior will be critical for our clients and has implications for supply chain, sourcing, and other parts of the operations value chain.