Goldman Names Ousted McKinsey Head Sneader to Co-Run Asia
(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. hired Kevin Sneader, who was voted out as head of McKinsey & Co. amid an uproar over its role in fueling the opioid crisis, to co-run the firm’s Asia-Pacific operations.
The move makes Sneader the bank’s most prominent outside hire for Asia ever, arriving as the company moves beyond international probes into its role in the looting of Malaysia’s 1MDB investment fund. The 54-year-old has connections to leading companies and governments across the region that will be useful for the firm’s ambitious plans to expand, especially in China.
Sneader has “worked with global clients in multiple industries and functions for more than three decades,” Chief Executive Officer David Solomon told staff in a memo on Wednesday. “He brings significant international experience and a wealth of expertise to the firm across strategy, organization and operations.”
McKinsey’s senior managing partners voted to remove Sneader earlier this year after a single term as its top executive as he sought to resolve a string of scandals over the firm’s past client work. The blowups mainly centered on advice McKinsey had provided to drugmakers involved in the U.S. opioid crisis, for which McKinsey agreed to pay more than $600 million to settle state investigations. But the consultancy also faced criticism over mandates in South Africa and with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
He will arrive at Goldman with the rank of partner, serving as co-president for the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, alongside Todd Leland. Sneader will also join the firm’s powerful management committee.
Goldman is looking to Asia for growth after paying out more than $5 billion to resolve probes into its fundraising for 1MDB. But that means navigating heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, where investment banks have longed to do more business in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Along with other global banks, Goldman has big ambitions in China. A five-year plan presented to the board in late 2019 envisioned doubling the workforce to 600, and expanding in advisory, securities and wealth management. The firm also looked outside its ranks in 2018, when it hired veteran dealmaker Wei Cai to co-head its China investment bank business.
Wednesday’s announcement highlighted Sneader’s experience abroad: He joined McKinsey in 1989 and held posts around the globe, working from cities including Beijing and Hong Kong. He eventually ran the firm’s offices in Asia from 2014 to 2018 before his ascent to global managing partner.
“He will help manage our day-to-day operations and advance our businesses in the region, including in China, where we continue to make meaningful progress on our strategic plan,” Solomon said in the memo.
Born in Canada and raised in Glasgow, Sneader has said he traveled only modestly before finding a McKinsey recruiting brochure while cleaning the library as a university student. He decided to apply and was, by his own account, hired rather improbably as the first Scottish business analyst in the consulting firm’s London office, arriving with a strong Glasgow accent.
In the early 1990s, he picked up an MBA from Harvard Business School. Over the years, his assignments at McKinsey took him from continent to continent as he added experience in industries including consumer goods, retail and health care, as well as the public sector, McKinsey said in 2018. Wherever he went, he noted in an interview at the time, he made sure to start his day in the gym -- “90 minutes without fail” -- often starting around 5:30 a.m.
In a statement, Sneader said he has long admired Goldman.
“It is particularly exciting to be joining at a time when tackling the complexity and capturing the opportunities of Asia have never been more important for clients inside and outside the region,” he said.
Bloomberg had reported his appointment earlier Wednesday.
Local jurisdictions targeted McKinsey for helping opioid makers such as Purdue Pharma by providing sales analysis and marketing advice. The firm has said its work was lawful but that it regrets not fully acknowledging the addictive drug’s consequences for communities at the time. Under Sneader, McKinsey said it took a number of steps to reshape its culture, including enhanced training, a code of conduct and other internal controls.
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