McKinsey Acronym Guide

Like most companies, McKinsey uses lots of acronyms - especially TLAs (Three-Letter Acronyms).  These abbreviations are useful shortcuts, but sometimes make it difficult for other folks to understand us.

Using the acronyms also becomes second nature after a while, so I apologize if I use any in my posts without at least specifying what they stand for.

Below you'll find a list of common McKinsey acronyms, what they stand for, and what they mean.  I'll continue to add to this list as acronyms come to mind.  If you come across other McKinsey acronyms in my posts or from the McKinsey consultant in your life, please let me know and I'll add them to this page.


McKinsey Acronym Guide

AA:  Advanced Analytics - although you might think McKinsey consultants need another kind of "AA", these Excel experts are invaluable to the consultant struggling with a complex and/or broken model

AP:  Associate Principal - the consulting role between Engagement Manager and Principal.  APs usually split their time between 2 or 3 client engagements while supporting other Firm initiatives and working on proposals for future engagements. 

APD:  Advanced Professional Degree -  JDs, MDs, and PhDs who typically comprise over a third of any incoming class of Associates (the rest are MBAs)

ASC:  Abbreviation for Associate - the consulting role usually filled by recent MBA or other Advanced Professional Degree (APD) holders.

BA:  Business Analyst - the consulting role usually filled by recent undergrads.  Generally assumed to have the greatest raw intellectual horsepower of any group at the Firm

CSS:  Client Service Staff - Basically, anyone you would think of as a "consultant" at McKinsey.

CSSA:  Client Service Staff Assistants - Basically, anyone at the Firm who doesn't seem like a "consultant" at McKinsey.  They are the lifeblood of the Firm and keep it and engagement teams running.

CST:  Client Service Team - broader than the engagement team, the CST includes all of the leadership serving a given client, and engagement team members.

CTL:  Counseled to Leave - The Firm rarely fires consultants.  Instead, they are counseled to leave, encouraged, and helped to find opportunities outside of McKinsey.

DGL:  Development Group Leader - Partner responsible for conducting a consultant's semi-annual review (SAR)

EA:  Executive Assistant - Every McKinsey Director (Sr. Principal), Principal, Associate Principal, and Engagement Manager has an EA supporting them, doing everything from expense reports to coordinating calendars with clients.

EM:  Engagement Manager - the consultant who leads the "team on the ground", ultimately responsible for the day-to-day and overall progress of a client engagement

LFO:  Leveraged Fly Out - when on a travel study, expensing flights to another destination and back to the client site rather than flying home

MECE:  Mutually Exclusive and Completely Exhaustive - an important principle in McKinsey problem solving

PD:  Practice Document - PPT deck found on McKinsey's "Know" knowledge portal that contains the Firm's best thinking on a particular topic

PD:  Practice Document - any document from a library of PPT documents on a wide range of industry, function, and client topics.

PD:  Professional Development Manager - the person responsible for getting consultants staffed on engagements

PTO:  Paid Time Off - rather than vacation days or sick days, McKinsey consultants accrue PTO days

SAR:  Semi-Annual Review - formal review process that occurs for every six months.  A consultant's fall SAR rating determines their annual compensation increase and bonus

SO:  Significant other - the spouse, partner, boyfriend, or girlfriend of a Firm member

VGA:  Visual Graphics America - internal McKinsey department, based in the US, that "produces" PPT pages for McKinsey consultants

VGI:  Visual Graphics India - internal McKinsey department, based in India, that "produces" PPT pages for McKinsey consultants

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