Kito de Boer is retiring from McKinsey & Company as he takes on the full time commitment of his new role as Head of the Middle East Quartet’s Initiative of Palestinian Economy. His new role will see him leverage his capabilities developed at McKinsey, as he brings in an independent perspective to a political issue that has gone on for decades.
Kito De Boer is a Dutch national who has worked for McKinsey & Company for nearly 30 years. His last role at the consulting firm has been Director of the firm’s Middle East division, and has resided since 1999 in Dubai. During his time at McKinsey, he has attained three major ‘legacy items’ which include his role in the founding of the India office in Delhi in 1992; his later role in founding the Middle East office, based in Dubai; and his role of heading up the firm’s government practice that saw him provide advice to rulers across the UAE and GCC as well a range of regional players, emerging African economies and fast growth South Asian markets.
Besides his work for McKinsey & Company, de Boer was last year appointed to lead the Middle East Quartet’s Initiative of Palestinian Economy – consisting of the United Nations, the European Union, the US and Russia – which seeks to bring private investment into Palestinian’s economic development and institution building.
De Boer recently announced that he will be leaving McKinsey after his nearly 30 years at the firm. His decision to retire, he tells the Arab Emirates’ The National, had to involve a reinvention. “The path to retirement in McKinsey is a comfortable one, but retirement lacks meaning. I did not want to retire, I knew I had to rewire. At a strategic level I was open to the idea of reinvention, although this was at a metaphysical level. I had done nothing to translate this realisation into action,” explains De Boer.
Middle East Quartet
His role as leader of the Quartet’s Palestine initiative was recently cemented by the US secretary of state John Kerry, whose persuasive powers help de Boer see through his own insecurities. De Boer remarks: “John Kerry is a fine man. I have often said that the world lacks good leaders. In my view he is a good man and a good leader. He was persuasive.” Reflecting on his own capabilities to fulfil the role, de Boer says: “A major issue for me was whether I was qualified. I figured out that [the job] was a good cause for a good person. But was I the right person? The list of reasons why I was not qualified is compelling. I came to realise that no one is really qualified – and those who are, know not to get involved.”
One aspect of his role is his natural state of being able to act as an objective and independent arbitrator, being neither Arab nor Jewish. His sympathy for both sides, allows him to seek to create what is best to both sentiments. “I do feel that the Jews need a secure homeland based on the unequivocal evidence of history predating the Holocaust. I also have a strong belief that the Palestinians have been wronged. I have numerous Palestinian friends and they can attest that I have argued their case strongly in a number of forums.”
To his new role, he brings the capabilities that served him well during his years at McKinsey– saying that being a professional has taught him to “listen, learn, focus on the facts and try to be helpful rather than opinionated. And then, be creative.”