McKinsey elevates Indian boss Gautam Kumra to top Asia role

19 July 2021 3 min. read
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The search is underway for a new India managing partner at strategy consulting powerhouse McKinsey & Company, a position made vacant with Gautam Kumra’s accession to Asia Chairman.

McKinsey & Company has elevated India managing partner Gautam Kumra to Chairman of the its Asia geography, with the process now underway to determine his replacement. The India branch of McKinsey is home to more than a dozen senior partners – including former managing director Noshir Kaka – with three names floated by local media sources to date; Alok Kshirsagar, Vivek Pandit, and Rajat Dhawan.

An MBA graduate of the IIM Ahmedabad, Kumra has been with McKinsey for the best part of three decades, joining the New Delhi office in 1993 before ultimately becoming India boss in 2017. Now, he’ll oversee around two dozen of offices extending across Asia, including in India, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and Australia, in a role previously held by the past two global managing partners, Kevin Sneader (who was ousted earlier this year) and Dominic Barton.

“I am honoured and humbled to have accepted the role as Chairman of McKinsey’s offices in Asia,” Kumra stated in a LinkedIn post. “I am thrilled to be able to bring to a regional stage my passions for developing CEO leadership and helping institutions – both in India and across Asia – become global and world-class organisations. In parallel, we have a selection process underway to find the new managing partner for McKinsey’s India offices.”

According to multiple inside sources cited by the Economic Times, Sneader’s replacement, Bob Sternfels, and Kumra’s predecessor Oliver Tonby have begun interviewing shortlisted candidates for the top Indian role, as put forward by McKinsey’s global senior partners. With over 70 years of service at McKinsey between them, Alok Kshirsagar, Vivek Pandit and Rajat Dhawan are said to be among the front-runners for the position.

During his 25 years at the firm, Kshirsagar has led a number of divisions in Asia, including McKinsey’s Risk practice, its Asia Centre, and currently its Accelerate practice. Joining in New York in 2000, Pandit co-heads McKinsey’s global Private Equity & Principal Investors practice, and before that its TMT segment. Dhawan meanwhile, a 24-year veteran at the firm, currently serves as managing partner for McKinsey’s Advanced Industries practice for the Asia-Pacific.

Believed to be relocating from the firm’s Gurgaon office to Singapore in the coming weeks, Kumra will succeed Tonby after three-odd years in the role, with Tonby to focus on McKinsey’s Digital Capability Center based in Singapore. Prior to becoming chair, Tonby headed up the firm’s fast growing Southeast Asia region, including individually its Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore offices, and has been with McKinsey for close to 25 years.

Kumra, meanwhile, led the consulting firm’s Asia Pacific Organisation practice prior to his elevation to India managing partner, and also founded the McKinsey Leadership Institute in 2013. Perhaps not incidentally, his primary specialities are the healthcare and pharmaceuticals sectors – which even prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 represented one of the fastest growing consulting segments in the region, with global takings now exceeding $10 billion.