The Iran-born managing director at the top of the consulting tree in France

09 August 2018 4 min. read
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As the US deepens its divisions with the EU by imposing strict sanctions on Iran, effectively coercing the bloc to cease trade with Tehran, takes a look at one very fruitful Iranian export to Europe; Homayoun Hatami, Managing Partner for McKinsey & Company in France.

Born in Iran but raised in Paris from the age of 14, Homayoun Hatami joined McKinsey in France in 2000 following his completion of an MBA with the esteemed Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where he was a member of MIT’s board of trustees, the MIT Corporation), since rising the McKinsey ranks to ultimately take the reins of the strategy and management consulting giant’s French operations this year.

Elevated to Managing Director of McKinsey in France, where the prestigious firm has had a presence for more than half a century and currently operates from locations in Paris and Lyon, Hatami is no less ambitious since taking the helm: “My ambition is to make France the bridgehead of the group's innovation,” the new MD said in an interview with French financial daily Les Échos. This is no small aim, as McKinsey globally blazes a path in the worldwide digital revolution.The Iran-born managing director at the top of the consulting tree in FranceAs it stands, the French management consulting market has grown to an estimated worth of €6.5 billion, rising 10 percent last year to feature behind only Germany and the UK for size in Europe, with strategy consulting, according to industry agency Consult'in France, generating a total fee income of €1.4 billion to account for an approximate fifth of the overall market. And of the big strategy firms in Paris, McKinsey remains the top dog in the eyes of aspiring graduates, coming out on top as the most desired employer in recent student survey conducted by

In the interview with Les Échos, Hatami touches on the point of the firm’s approach to recruitment; “Overall, our mission is twofold. We need to help our customers improve their performance in a changing world: 40 percent of McKinsey's business did not exist seven years ago! At the same time, we need to build an environment that attracts talent. In 2017, we recruited 3,000 consultants out of 700,000 applications received.” The firm, too, has been looking to reward talent under Hatami’s watch, with a round of partner elevations in recent months.

Hatami himself is not unfamiliar with the talent recruitment path from graduate school to prestigious strategy firm, guided by the then President of the MIT club in France David Znaty to pursue professional experience as a business development manager with digital electronics manufacturer 3Com in London, before signing up for an MBA with Sloan – a noted McKinsey recruitment ground – where he earned the Seley Scholarship, Sloan’s highest merit award.

“I had a good knowledge of marketing and sales so I wanted to study everything I didn’t know. I took a lot of classes in leadership, strategy and negotiation, and a lot of finance classes — I literally didn’t know how to read a financial statement before I got to Sloan.”

In addition to his MBA, Hatami holds a computer-focused masters in Science from the Ecole Centrale Paris, completed in 1996, and has since gone on to be a noted publisher of thought leadership, including the co-authored 2012 best-seller ‘Sales Growth Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders’, which forwards practical ideas for driving growth derived from McKinsey engagements and interviews with the leaders of 200 successful global companies.

Despite his obvious hard work and dedication to reach the top of the consulting tree, in the Les Échos interview Hatami quips; “In Persian, my name means ‘lucky’,” adding with humility, “I have received a lot.” Hatami’s challenging early background will perhaps grant an extra special meaning for the Managing Director as the French branch gets set to roll out McKinsey’s successful global Generation programme, a social initiative which provides unemployed youth with accelerated skills training for in-demand sectors.

So far the programme has graduated 20,000 students worldwide since its 2015 inception, with 85 percent of those subsequently place in employment. “This is of course about helping our clients to improve their positions, but also helping to develop the new leadership skills of decision-makers, and to participate in the economic influence of France,” Hatami explained to Les Echos. Hatami’s McKinsey counterpart in Spain, Alejandro Beltrán, recently received a Fundación SERES social award for his role in the Generation programme and contribution to Spanish society.