The McKinsey consultant is an icon of American business, right up there with the gray-suited IBM man. For nearly a century, few firms have had the ear of CEOs like McKinsey and hence such a massive influence on global business. Its approach has always been to disclaim credit (or blame) for its advice, so it’s often hard to detect its fingerprints. But various chroniclers describe it as responsible for business-changing ideas ranging from strategic layoffs to using budgeting as a management tool. The firm has produced a roster of powerful alumni, from the illustrious (Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg) to the ignominious (ex–Valeant CEO Michael Pearson).
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