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Bob Sternfels faces opposition to be re-elected as McKinsey boss

Bob Sternfels, global managing partner of McKinsey
Bob Sternfels, global managing partner of McKinsey

McKinsey head Bob Sternfels’ bid for re-election is reportedly facing internal opposition due to mass layoffs and a slowdown in growth during his tenure.

Unnamed sources told the Financial Times that Sternfels failed to win a second term as McKinsey’s global managing partner in the initial round of voting after the majority of its 750 senior partners put others as their first choice.

At McKinsey, if a partner fails to secure a majority in the first round, the 10 most popular candidates move on to a second round.

Senior partners can vote for any peer in the first round provided they can serve a three-year term before turning 60 years old.

A key source of internal conflict reportedly stems from 1,400 back office job cuts last year – representing just over three per cent of McKinsey’s 45,000 total workforce – in a bid to protect the partners’ compensation pool.

Some partners are said to feel the restructuring was poorly consulted, while others reportedly think the layoffs did not go far enough.

McKinsey and other consultancy firms are struggling with a dearth of corporate dealmaking, which has dragged on the company’s growth over the last year.

It was reported last month that partners at McKinsey had voted to defer part of their annual share in the company’s profit as the firm’s clients reduce spending.

Although Sternfels is still seen as the favourite to win after the following rounds, he would be the second single-term boss in a row if he fails.

Candidates going to the second round alongside him reportedly include chief risk officer Carter Wood and global leader of McKinsey Digital Rodney Zemmel.

Others are said to be Eric Kutcher, McKinsey’s chief financial officer, and Virginia Simmons, formerly head of the firm’s UK office.

Those backing Sternfels argue he helped McKinsey recover from the major backlash it received over its role in fuelling America’s opioid crisis.

In 2021, McKinsey agreed to settle with 49 US states for nearly $600m after giving sales advice to opioid makers.

Sternfels’ predecessor, Kevin Sneader, soon after became the first global managing partner to be ousted after one term since 1976.

McKinsey declined to comment when approached by City A.M.