For McKinsey, “sorry” was a hard word to say. The word took approximately 34 months to utter. Kevin Sneader, the new global managing partner of McKinsey, apologised to South Africans in a speech delivered at GIBS business school on July 9 for its role in Gupta-linked business. Sneader acknowledged that the firm had “made several mistakes in SA and was now paying for them”. He  went on to highlight the ways in which, as a trusted firm, McKinsey had not just let itself  down but had also failed to live up to its standard of “putting client’s interests ahead of the firm’s”. Leaving aside the political aspect of this unfolding and unravelling story, from a brand-building perspective McKinsey has lost reputation, and in the short to medium term the hope of commercial growth in SA. It’s not going to be easy to restore the trust local clients had in it. The reversal of this negative reputation will take more than spin and will require a deliberate effort from the company to walk a new walk...

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