Andrew Thomas (Tom) Kearney [pronounced “Car-nee”] was one of James McKinsey’s early hires with Kearney being the first person McKinsey elevated to partner and, not long after, appointed him to Managing Partner of the newly-established Chicago office in 1935. Following James McKinsey passing away in 1939, Kearney and the other New York-based partners decided to go their separate ways and, eight years later, McKinsey’s former Chicago outpost was (finally) rebranded as Kearney & Company.
By 1964, two years after its founder’s death, the firm had begun its global expansion, opening an office in Düsseldorf, Germany. In 1995, the firm was acquired by American IT company EDS however, it became an independent, partner-owned firm again following a management buyout in 2006. In Australia today, it has offices in Melbourne and Sydney, but its consultants can be based on client sites across Australia, New Zealand, and the wider Asia-Pacific region.
Though it lacks the size and high profile of some of its competitors, the firm is one of the oldest and largest global strategic consultancies and is well regarded globally. It currently works with around three-quarters of companies on the Fortune Global 500 list, as well as many powerful government and non-profit organisations across the Americas, Europe, The Middle East and Asia-Pacific.
The firm continues to abide by the philosophy expressed by its founder almost a century ago: “Our success as consultants will depend on the essential rightness of the advice we give and our capacity for convincing those in authority that it is good.” More recently, the firm describes its mission as “helping clients achieve immediate impact and growing advantage on their most mission-critical issues”.
Andrew Kearney was an early advocate for diversity and inclusion and was known to proclaim, "The true strength of this firm, as in any organisation, lies in the fact that we are all different.... The strength inherent in this firm rests upon these collective and diverse interests.”
This is still echoed at the firm today where Kearney believes its staff will only be able to perform at their best if they can be themselves and feel comfortable, without encountering prejudice or discrimination. Hence, the firm has sought to create a workplace where staff have equal opportunities to contribute, develop and succeed irrespective of race, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. The firm also offers reasonable accommodation for disabilities, or religious beliefs and practices.
Kearney’s emphasis on diversity not only fosters an inclusive environment, both globally and locally, but is evident throughout. The firm’s well-established apprenticeship model and collaborative working styles continues to help employees at all levels make an immediate impact and cultivates an open and welcoming working environment.
The firm continues to be praised by the media and diversity-championing organisations for its inclusive practices, including being named as one of the best places to work for LGBT Equality and one of the top 100 Firms for Working Families and Women.
Since its foundation, Kearney has aimed to connect the corporate good and the common good with its social impact initiatives currently focused on three areas.
First, the firm is working to both spur economic development and make sure that it benefits the four billion people living at the “base of the pyramid”. The firm partners with a range of private and public-sector organisations to do things such as launch low-cost banking platforms, make broadband internet more widely available and foster an innovation-driven entrepreneurship culture in economically depressed regions. Second, the firm assists corporations, governments and other organisations operate more sustainably. Third, the firm works with schools, governments and NGOs to provide the education young people will need to thrive in the Digital Age.
Kearney hires from all degree backgrounds and looks for talented problem-solvers who possess excellent written and verbal skills, strong critical thinking and analytical capabilities, and are a forward-thinking team player. The firm also looks for individuals with superior interpersonal attributes who can work in a collegial way to create and implement elegantly simple, practical and sustainable solutions across a wide range of industries.
Grads typically join Kearney as a Business Analyst and are recruited during their final year of studies. Kearney’s Sydney and Melbourne offices also offer summer and winter internships to those in their penultimate year (second last year) of undergraduate studies. As the firm values diversity of thought, students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply to these opportunities.
The firm’s standard recruitment process can vary but typically consists of two rounds of interviews. During your first-round interview(s), you can expect to be asked to complete a short case study. You’ll also be asked about your previous work experience, core competencies, and how you manage client relationships. (This is done to assess whether you’ll be a good fit at the firm). The second-round interview(s) involve completing a couple more case studies and answering further questions designed to determine whether you will be a good cultural fit.
The firm doesn’t discuss remuneration until after an offer is made. The most it will say on the public record is that “packages are competitive”. That noted, even compared to its high-paying competitors, Kearney is noted for looking after its staff well. In fact, the firm has on occasion be crowned the “highest-paying company” in the US, beating out the likes of Google.
Upon joining the firm, you’ll participate in local and regional structured training programs designed to help you learn essential concepts and methodologies, as well as developing a network of contacts with other Kearney staff. You will also be given access to a full curriculum of tailored courses available to enhance your skills.
Much of your professional development will occur on the job. From the day you join, you’ll almost immediately be treated as a “full member” of a client team. This means you’ll be expected to contribute ideas, opinions and new information. Under the guidance of your more experienced colleagues, you’ll also be required to develop models, perform complex analyses and work on research assignments at both the office and client sites.
While it’s not compulsory, some Business Analysts enrol in an MBA within three years of starting at the firm. If you’re a top performer, you’ll be eligible for the Kearney Scholars’ Program’. This provides significant support for tuition and fees to pursue an MBA degree at a top business school.
You can expect the scope of your consulting role to increase as rapidly as your performance warrants. Kearney encourages staff to make the most of their potential. Mentors provide regular feedback and help you to be successful throughout your career life cycle. The standard career progression is: Business Analyst, Senior Business Analyst, Associate, Manager, Principal, Partner. There are typically opportunities to work overseas on international projects and, if you speak the local language, you can also apply for permanent transfers at other local or international Kearney offices.
Even if you leave the firm, you’ll still be able to tap into a vast number of useful business contacts as part of Kearney’s global alumni network. Kearney alumni have gone on to take up leadership positions at global companies such as Westpac, Google, Nike, SEEK, Volvo Group, SAP, and Microsoft.
Like most management consulting firms, Kearney is full of driven, intellectually gifted overachievers who relish solving complicated, high-stakes problems. However, the firm’s culture is less brutal than is found elsewhere in the consulting industry. For example, it doesn’t have the aggressive Darwinian ‘up or out’ approach most management consultancies have now adopted. In general, the firm takes an old-school approach, fostering a down-to-earth collegial culture where staff are expected to treat each other respectfully.
From Monday to Thursday, consultants are often on the client site working with their colleagues on projects, returning to the office on Friday to get coffee and catch up on the week’s happenings with your peers. Although, as a consultant, no two weeks are the same – one you may be working from the office on future proposals and the next you may be on a client site in Perth--- one thing is certain, Kearney is like a family, and you can expect to remain in contact with your colleagues despite being in different locations.