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China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG -

McKin­sey of­fers a fan­tas­tic train­ing ground for young­sters in Hong Kong and the Chi­nese main­land, and the con­sult­ing firm is look­ing for young peo­ple with a drive for ex­cel­lence, Joseph Luc Ngai, di­rec­tor and man­ag­ing part­ner of McKin­sey & Com­pany Hong Kong, told China Daily.

McKin­sey & Com­pany is a global man­age­ment con­sult­ing firm that serves lead­ing busi­nesses, gov­ern­ments, non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions, and not-for-prof­its. Its claimed goal is to help clients make last­ing im­prove­ments to their per­for­mance and re­al­ize their most im­por­tant goals.

Aside from Hong Kong, McKin­sey has of­fices in Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Shen­zhen on the Chi­nese main­land.

Ngai is in charge of McKin­sey’s financial in­sti­tu­tion busi­ness in Hong Kong, the Chi­nese main­land and Tai­wan, which in­cludes the bank­ing and in­sur­ance industry, as­set man­age­ment, and In­ter­net fi­nance.

Hong Kong- born Ngai went to the US when he was 14 and fin­ished high school there. Next came Har­vard, where he earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in eco­nom­ics, as well as an MBA and a law de­gree. He is a mem­ber of the New York Bar As­so­ci­a­tion.

“When I was at busi­ness school, I worked for McKin­sey as an as­so­ciate in the sum­mer. Af­ter I grad­u­ated, I ac­tu­ally did not come back to McKin­sey,” said Ngai, bet­ter known as “Joe” Ngai. He ex­plained that it was the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the era of the “dot com” boom. So he teamed up with a cou­ple of friends to launch an e-com­merce in­cu­ba­tion start-up.

“I did that for about two years, and luck­ily McKin­sey still re­mem­bered me from my as­so­ciate days. So I was able to come back to McKin­sey in 2002, and I’ve been with the com­pany ever since.”

The con­sult­ing industry has changed quite a bit over the years, Ngai said.

About 70 or 80 years ago, when the busi­ness of con­sult­ing firms had just emerged in the mar­ket, they mostly did strat­egy con­sul­tancy — work­ing with large com­pa­nies by help­ing them with strate­gic choices, es­pe­cially when th­ese com­pa­nies wanted to ex­pand or head­hunt top man­age­ment. Con­sult­ing firms at the time worked mainly with high-level man­age­ment such as com­pany chief ex­ec­u­tives.

To­day, strat­egy con­sul­tancy is only about 20 to 30 per­cent of what McKin­sey does, while the rest of the busi­ness is quite di­verse, Ngai said.

The com­pany does a lot of work around op­er­a­tional ex­cel­lence, and a lot of work with com­pa­nies try­ing to be more dig­i­tally savvy.

Many com­pa­nies on the main­land are try­ing to trans­form them­selves, try­ing dif­fer­ent ways of mak­ing their busi­nesses work, and this is re­ally a broad spec­trum of what McKin­sey does apart from tra­di­tional strat­egy work, said Ngai. The com­pany is also em­brac­ing a di­verse set of skills to meet client de­mand, he added.

“We have peo­ple who can go to power plants on the main­land to re­duce costs, we have peo­ple who can go to auto fac­to­ries and are able to do things around ef­fi­ciency man­age­ment, we have peo­ple who can go into banks, and think about what to do when in­ter­est rates are dereg­u­lated.”

Ngai be­lieves that McKin­sey can pro­vide great op­por­tu­ni­ties for young­sters in Hong Kong and the main­land.

“I think peo­ple come to McKin­sey as it is a fan­tas­tic train­ing ground for young peo­ple; we are a very flat or­ga­ni­za­tion, which means that we don’t have many lay­ers be­tween a young per­son, who has just joined the com­pany, and se­nior staff in the firm. We go to client meet­ings to­gether — as a young per­son, you are very likely to at­tend meet­ings with CEOs and chair­men of com­pa­nies, which is a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for a lot of peo­ple.”

He also pointed out that McKin­sey em­ploy­ees travel a lot, so that young peo­ple can see a lot of the vast Chi­nese main­land, as well as a lot of Asia and the rest of the world.

“If you are in your 20s, and you are work­ing at McKin­sey, I would imag­ine that there are not that many places that would give you such va­ri­ety of ex­pe­ri­ences and ex­po­sure to the busi­ness com­mu­nity.”

On the other hand, Ngai em­pha­sized that to be suc­cess­ful in the con­sult­ing industry, one needs to have a drive for ex­cel­lence.

The clients are de­mand­ing, the industry is de­mand­ing, and the com­pany needs peo­ple who strive for the ex­tra­or­di­nary.

“If you are a stu­dent, of course you can be a ‘B+’ stu­dent, you can be a ‘A-‘ stu­dent, but we do want peo­ple who want an ex­tra bit more to get an ‘A’, we want peo­ple who run the ex­tra bit at the end to win.”

The com­pany also needs peo­ple who can fight dur­ing tough times, said Ngai, ex­plain­ing that there are times when things are not go­ing well, there are clients who are dif­fi­cult, and re­search can some­times be tough as well.

“Dur­ing those more dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods, if I look around, I’m look­ing for peo­ple on my team, peo­ple I feel that I can go to

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