The new path from strategy consultant to entrepreneur to politics

02 December 2019 3 min. read

Once a feeder for the C-suite, the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company is increasingly producing entrepreneurs or politicians, and now it seems – both.  

Global consulting giant McKinsey & Company is well-known as a breeding ground for chief executives. More recently however, there’s been a growing shift toward entrepreneurialism (around one fifth of former employees go on to found a business) and the upper political classes, with Kyriakos Mitsotakis in July becoming the first McKinsey alumnus to lead a country on being elected the new Prime Minister of Greece.

But a new trend is emerging in Southeast Asia, where ex-strategy consultants are founding successful start-ups and then entering the political arena as well. Last month in Indonesia (where McKinsey is currently advising on the relocation of the capital from Jakarta), President Joko Widodo appointed Gojek founder and ex-McKinsey consultant Nadiem Makarim as the government’s Minister of Education & Culture.

Now, Makarim has been joined in the corridors of power by fellow tech entrepreneurs Andi Taufan Garuda Putra and Adamas Belva Syah Devara, respectively the founders of peer-to-peer fintech start-up Amartha and education platform Ruangguru, who have both been appointed as special presidential advisors. Putra was formerly a business consultant at IBM, while Devara is another McKinsey alumnus.The new path from strategy consultant to entrepreneur to politicsThe pair will continue to work in their current roles, with Amartha landing series B funding last week and Ruangguru in the process of expanding to Vietnam. Devara; “As expressed by the President himself, I am expected to continue working in my current position as managing director of Ruangguru, to never forget my roots in the tech sector. That way, I can give him relevant inputs on new innovation to help the society.”

Also serving alongside Putra and Devar as special staff to the president is the co-founder of social enterprse SabangMerauke, Ayu Kartika Dewi – another former intern at McKinsey, which launched its Indonesian branch in 1988 as the firm’s first office in Southeast Asia. Twenty years later, McKinsey launched Young Leaders for Indonesia, a leadership development programme, for which Devara serves as a board member.

Meanwhile, another MBB alumnus, former Bain & Company consultant Alfian Lim (who also served at Booz & Co., now Strategy&) was recently named as the new Country Head for OYO Indonesia – continuing a trend at the hospitality start-up for recruiting one-time consultants, which among their ranks includes Southeast Asia CEO Mandar Vaidya and Malaysia country head Ming Luk Tan, both previously of McKinsey.

“Alfian has all the characters of an OYOpreneur with his focus in problem-solving, vast knowledge and experience, emphasis on innovation and customer-first approach – it solidified why he is the right person for the role,” Vaidya, who spent over 17 years at McKinsey, said of Lim’s appointment. “It also strengthens our commitment to our hotel-partners and customers of building OYO as a preferred hospitality brand.”