McKinsey partner quits consulting to serve as a minister in Pakistan

23 January 2019 3 min. read

Former McKinsey partner Taimur Khan Jhagra has revealed why he left a high paying job in Dubai to take up a public service position in Pakistan as the provincial finance minister for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

In an interview with local New York Times-affiliated media agency the Express Tribune, Taimur Khan Jhagra, the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by legendary former cricketer Imran Khan) party’s finance minister for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the Northwest of Pakistan, has revealed his motivation for leaving a $600,000 a year job with McKinsey in Dubai to take up the role at home – for a salary of just Rs180,000 per month.

Joining McKinsey & Company as an associate consultant in Dubai in 2008, Jhagra was made partner with the management consulting giant at the beginning of 2017, focusing on the energy and public sectors and having previously led the development of McKinsey’s new office in Pakistan. Just prior to joining the firm, Jhagra completed an MBA, General Management, with the esteemed London Business School, complementing an earlier BSc in Mechanical Engineering.

Yet, at the beginning of last year, after nearly nine and a half years at McKinsey but only twelve months since having been admitted to its partnership, Jhagra gave up his job and joined the PTI party in Pakistan – elected to the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after contesting the 2018 election. Late last year, Jhagra was selected for the locally governing PTI cabinet and appointed as Provincial Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for Finance.Ex-McKinsey partner gives up $600,000 job to become finance minister in PakistanIn his interview with the Express Tribune, the first question Jhagra fields is; “Did your colleagues at McKinsey ever ask what you were smoking when they found out you’re leaving the company to join politics in Pakistan?” Only his friends and family according to Jhagra, while many of his colleagues at McKinsey were said to have been incredibly supportive. The real intoxicant? His sense of responsibility to family’s constituency in rural Peshawar.

“If you’re privileged enough to be educated and have a political constituency, it is an obligation to try and make a difference in the country,” Jhagra says. “I adopted my work ethic from my uncle Iftikhar Khan Jhagra and Ghulam Ishaq Khan (the former President of Pakistan, who was Jhagra’s grandfather). You feel very guilty when you have lucky breaks in life and still don’t have the courage to serve the country.”

The transition back to Pakistan and into the world of politics hasn’t however been the smoothest of rides (with Jhagra having been out of the country for a decade and a half, spending time professionally in China in addition to the Middle East) – including strong opposition from within his own party. “The local party chapter reacted against me vehemently and my effigies were burning on the road. It was quite intimidating,” Jhagra tells the Tribune.

Having since moved on, Jhagra is now concentrating on the future, evidently drawing on his management consulting and public sector expertise in support of his party’s centrist, egalitarian platform. “As the finance minister, I want to focus on two things. First, I want to see how to generate more revenue within the province, and second, how does one utilise the budget more efficiently? My vision is to transform the way K-P earns and spends its resources.”