Carolyn Dewar

Carolyn Dewar

Carolyn Dewar Senior Partner, Bay Area, McKinsey & Company


Carolyn founded and coleads McKinsey’s CEO excellence work, coaching many Fortune 100 CEOs to maximize their effectiveness in the role, including business aspiration-setting and roadmap, culture shifts to unlock performance, top-team effectiveness, managing external stakeholders, board engagement, and resetting their own personal operating model. She also works extensively with clients to drive organizational effectiveness at pivotal moments—such as merger, strategic shift, and crisis—and lead large-scale performance improvement programs integrating strategic, operational, and cultural initiatives.

Examples of Carolyn’s recent client work include the following:

  • new CEO onboarding across industries, counseling many CEOs as they navigate their CEO journey in terms of business priorities, organization, top team, stakeholders, and board dynamics
  • working directly with the CEO and top team to manage one of the largest mergers in financial services and reinvent the operating model of a Fortune 50 firm in a new regulatory environment
  • redesigning and installing a new operating model—including organization design, day-to-day management practices, culture, and incentives—of a Fortune 50 consumer-goods company to align resources and attention for future growth
  • managing the merger integration between a spin-off of a Fortune 20 company with a fast-growth tech firm to establish a newco, involving significant culture, integration, leadership, and strategy alignment, as well as building and execution

In addition to her direct work with clients, Carolyn conducts ongoing research. Among her many articles are two of the most read McKinsey Quarterly articles of all time, “The CEO's role in leading transformation” and “The irrational side of change management”. She has also authored two foundational publications: “Performance culture imperative: A hard-nosed approach to the soft stuff” and “Breaking new ground: Making a successful transition into your new executive role”.

Carolyn regularly gives keynote speeches and hosts CEO and senior executive roundtables on topics related to leadership, executive transitions, and change management. Carolyn serves as faculty for McKinsey’s executive programs: The Bower Forum, The CEO Excellence Forum, and Executive Transitions Master Class.

She is a co-author of the New York Times bestseller CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets That Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest.

Carolyn is a Canadian and British citizen, and currently lives in San Francisco with her two children and husband. She is a board trustee of Bay Area Discovery Museum and has a Master’s degree in economics and international relations from University of St Andrews, Scotland.