• Interview by:
  • Ana Marcela

‘Lisbon hub had the largest growth in McKinsey’s history in its first year of operations’

Around 85% of the work of the consultancy firm's hub in Lisbon is done outside Iberia, 30% of which is outside Europe. They expect to hire up to 100 employees this year.

Lisbon has hosted one of McKinsey’s 12 Client Capabilities Hubs for a year now. The hub with the “largest growth in the history” of the consultancy firm in its first year of operation. In 12 months, the hub has already employed 150 people – out of the 300 planned until 2025 – and this year the objectives are to reinforce it with between 80-100 new employees.

Lisbon “is already a true global hub, with a large regional presence. Around 85% of our work is done outside the Iberian Peninsula, 30% of which is outside Europe,” André Osório, director of McKinsey’s Lisbon Client Capabilities Hub, tells ECO.

“Portugal and McKinsey are very attractive to talent from all over the world. We have colleagues based in the Lisbon Client Capabilities Hub who have moved from over twenty different countries,” he assures.

A year ago, you announced your intention to hire 300 professionals with specialised skills by 2025 for your hub in Lisbon. How is this process going? What talent are you looking for?

For the first year of the Lisbon hub we had projected to hire between 50 and 75 people. Fifteen months later we have already hired around 150 people, approximately half of the goal we have until 2025. So we can say that our recruitment process is being extremely successful. And we continue to hire in an accelerated manner, particularly profiles specialised in various themes, such as corporate finance, life sciences, private equity or energy and sustainability, and with experience in areas such as advanced analytics, data engineering, software engineering or product management. This year, we have a plan to hire between 80-100 people.

Pandemic has made telecommuting more mainstream. Does that mean the option is still to recruit locally or is the recruitment pool now global?

Portugal and McKinsey are very attractive to talent from all over the world. We have colleagues based in the Client Capabilities Hub in Lisbon who have moved from over twenty different countries. Regardless of the changes that the pandemic brought to the working model, our recruitment pool was actually already global. A McKinsey study on hybrid working reinforces the idea that the model is here to stay and that workers prefer it. At the Client Capabilities Hub in Lisbon, for example, we do most of our work outside Portugal, which reinforces our positioning as a global employer capable of adapting to different work models and individual profiles.

Tech companies report an environment of salary pressure and talent shortages. Have they been experiencing this difficulty? What proposition are they putting on the table to recruit the talent they need?

A McKinsey study on talent in technology companies highlights the difficulties experienced by these organisations which, with hybrid or remote and borderless working models, see their best talent leaving in search of better opportunities, which exacerbates the talent shortage in the technology area. Capabilities hubs like ours can help companies address this shortage, as we continue to reach talent with skills that many companies are failing to retain or capture.

The growth of our hub’s human capital demonstrates that we have been able to circumvent the difficulties. The international experience, integration in global teams, the diversity of our colleagues and the continuous training provided by McKinsey are the great arguments we bring to the table that allow us to attract, capture and retain talent with different skills and cultural and personal backgrounds. We provide personal and professional growth through mentorship programmes, on-the-job learning and world-class leadership development programmes that allow our professionals to develop and accumulate skills without having to leave for another company, as suggested by the study “Human Capital at Work: The Value of Experience”. We like to say that we hire people for their learning potential and not just for what they already know.

With the cooling of the markets we have seen several announcements of slowdown in hiring or staff cuts. Is there any effect on the availability of talent, on the relief of salary pressure? Is it getting easier to find talent?

In fact, we have not experienced any difficulty in attracting talent and we continue with a clear intention to grow. We are top-of-mind for the best talent in Portugal and, in the first year of the Lisbon hub, we received more than ten thousand applications. The Lisbon hub was the fastest growing in McKinsey’s history in its first year of operations.

Are there plans to install other hubs in Portugal? In other regions?

For now, we are focused on growing the existing hubs. Lisbon is one of only 12 McKinsey Client Capabilities Hubs and is already a true global hub, with a large regional presence. Around 85% of our work is done outside the Iberian Peninsula, 30% of which is outside Europe. We have over 150 colleagues in over 20 teams in our Client Capabilities Network with a presence in Lisbon, with approximately 50% having prior experience in Fortune 500 or PSI-20 companies.

How could the country become more attractive for such a settlement? Or given the reorganisation of work – with more distance working – is this a model whose days are numbered? Companies do not need to settle in a country to have hubs and talent.

Our studies indicate that more than two thirds of workers who prefer the hybrid model will probably look for another job if their companies ask them to return, full-time, to face-to-face work. The days of face-to-face work are not numbered, but given the current evidence, it should not be seen as the exclusive solution. Regardless of the working model, the best performing organisations are turning the ‘Great Dismissal’ into the ‘Great Attraction’ through inclusion. Without an inclusive environment, even organisations with diverse human capital will struggle to improve their performance over the long term.

Countries whose companies respond better to the inclusion challenge and create great experiences for workers will be favoured for hubs. And at a more systemic level, countries that are able to train human talent with DELTA skills through reforms in the traditional education system and strengthening the lifelong learning system, among other government actions that our study on skills for the future of work suggests, will also be more attractive.

  • Ana Marcela