McKinsey & Company and the Australian Scholarships Foundation are offering seasoned executives from the not-for-profit sector the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to attend McKinsey Academy’s Executive Leadership Program, beginning in May 2021. 

Program overview

Build the critical capabilities required to lead and thrive in a world of increasing uncertainty and volatility 

Our leaders are under enormous pressure to balance instinct with insight, fortitude with flexibility, and performance with recovery. The Executive Leadership Program (ELP) is a ‘hands on’ leadership development program that develops self-aware leaders who have the capability and conviction to lead in the age of complexity and disruption. 

Leadership cannot be taught like a language. It requires nurturing through inspiration, intervention, opportunity, and practice. This program accelerates the development of senior talent by increasing self-awareness, exploring topics with a diverse faculty of leaders and coaches, and personalising insights within groups of external peers. 

What to expect:

In-Person events - In-person events are held at the beginning and end of the program. These residentials are immersive experiences where time is spent in plenary exploring macro topics and in small facilitated groups focusing on insight generation and personal growth. A group of more than 40 faculty members – equal in gender and diverse in background – collectively work to create individual and actionable insight for our participants. 

McKinsey Digital Course - Strategic Thinking. Learn the ten timeless tests of strategy and use these to assess the robustness of strategic plan. Participants will gain an understanding of the most important questions that a leader can ask when doing the work of strategic planning to improve the performance of their organisation.  

Personal Board of Directors - Each participant becomes a member of a small and diverse group of external peers. We call these groups ‘mini-boards’ and they are designed to collaborate, challenge, and collectively pursue leadership development together. 

Leadership Assessment - A baseline diagnostic is run prior to commencing ELP as part of the pre-work, and participants have the option of debriefing this report with their leadership coach to explore insights on their results.

Program format

This program is delivered as a 6-month blended learning journey. Participants will: 

  • Attend two (in-person or virtual) events where deep insights arising from exploring content and interacting with peer executives facing similar challenges. 
  • Complete a baseline diagnostic assessment prior to commencing ELP as part of the pre-work. 
  • Complete remote learning and coaching sessions that are anchored in business context, reflecting each aspiring leader’s specific personal and business situation. 

 Successful applicants should allow approx. 1-2 hours per week to complete the required work. 


The health and wellbeing of our scholars remains our utmost priority, as do our efforts in protecting our broader community. McKinsey Academy are monitoring this situation very closely and will ensure all course activities adhere to current government guidelines. Should COVID-19 affect the program dates, delivery mode or scholarship availability, all attendees will be notified immediately and every effort will be made to limit the impact on our scholarship recipients. If you have any questions or concerns prior to submitting your application, please contact the Australian Scholarships Foundation

Course dates for 2021

April – May*: Complete the leadership assessments prior to ELP to support your reflection on development priorities. 

Monday 24 May*: Attend an informal not-for-profit networking lunch to meet other NFP participants before joining the wider cross-industry cohort. 

Monday 24 – Friday 28 May:Attend the (in-person or virtual) kick-off event** in Sanctuary Cove, QLD. Participants will need to be available for this entire period and allow for the possibility of evening activities. More details will be provided to scholarship recipients. 

June / July*: Online ‘Strategic Thinking’ course consisting of 6-8 hours of learning (scheduled so that it can be completed with a 1-2 hour per week commitment). 

July – September*: Three peer ‘mini board’ sessions lasting approximately 90 minutes each via VC or phone, and scheduled within these recommended timeframes. 

Monday 23 – Friday 27 August: Attend the (in-person or virtual) capstone event** in Sanctuary Cove, QLD. Participants will need to be available for this entire period and allow for the possibility of evening activities. More details will be provided to scholarship recipients. 

*Course dates either side of the in-person forums are yet to be confirmed. Final dates will be advised as soon they are available. 

**The kick-off and capstone events will either be delivered in person or virtually, depending on the current COVID-19 guidelines. Successful applicants will be advised closer to the program. 

Who should apply

The Executive Leadership Program is designed to benefit high potential seasoned executives who are seeking personal and professional growth. A typical participant leads, or is on track to lead an organisation, significant business unit or function. They may be a CEO, or in a role where they report to a top team member. Each year, the class comprises 150 seasoned executives from 50+ organisations drawn from private, public, NFP and social sectors. 

Scholarship inclusions

There are 30 scholarships available to staff of charitable not-for-profit organisations Australia-wide thanks to McKinsey Academy’s generous contribution and commitment to not-for-profit development. Each scholarship is valued at $20,000 and will grant recipients full access to the Executive Leadership Program. 

Employer contribution 

This scholarship requires an Employer Contribution from each recipient’s supporting not-for-profit organisation according to their annual operating budget, as follows: 

  • Less than $250,000 p.a. = no contribution required 
  • $250,001 – $500,000 p.a. = $2,000 contribution 
  • $500,001 – $1m p.a. = $3,000 contribution 
  • More than $1m p.a. = $4,000 contribution 

This amount is payable to ASF by 19 March 2021 (following written acceptance from the scholarship recipient and upon receipt of an invoice). 

What is the Employer Contribution? The Employer Contribution is paid directly to ASF and allows us to expand the number of high-quality programs we can provide, assists with service delivery costs and enables us to invest in research and development that strengthens the NFP sector. The Employer Contribution is a way for not-for-profits to facilitate learning and development for their organisation via a small contribution to any scholarships ASF awards to their employees. McKinsey Academy does not receive any portion of this contribution.  

Travel / Accommodation 

Travel and/or accommodation (if necessary) are to be covered by the successful candidates or their supporting NFP organisation to attend the 2x five-day forums in Sanctuary Cove should the events be held in-person. We estimate this cost at $0-$2,000 for each forum depending on your location and travel needs. 

Key scholarship dates

7 October 2020Applications open
26 November 2020Applications closed
27 January 2021Scholarship awarded 
3 February 2021Written acceptance from scholarship recipients 
19 March 2021Employer Contribution due 
24 – 28 May 2021ELP kick-off event* 
23 – 27 AugustELP capstone event* 

*Students are required to attend both forums in May and August. 

Please reserve these important dates in your calendar. For more program dates, see the “Course Dates” section above. 

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must: 

  • currently work for an Australian charitable not-for-profit organisation or *social enterprise 
  • be an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident 
  • hold a leadership role within their organisation 
  • fulfil ASF’s general eligibility requirements available on our FAQs page 

*Check our FAQs page for guidance on eligible social enterprises. 

**Please note, this is a general guide and does not exclude those with a little more or less experience. 

More information

For more information about the program, please click here or download the program brochure here. 

Have questions?Check our FAQs page for answers to the most common questions. If you need assistance with the scholarship application process, please contact ASF via [email protected]

Applications for the 2021 McKinsey Academy Executive Leadership Program scholarships closed Thursday 26 November 2020 at 5pm AEDT.