Washington, Feb. 20: The remarkable transformation of Chelsea Clinton from a shy, gawky adolescent into a poised woman of the world seems about to be completed with a job offer from one of the world’s most elite companies.
The daughter of former US President Bill Clinton has attended interviews at the London offices of McKinsey, the management consultancy firm headed by an Indian, Rajat Gupta, before a likely posting in New York on a salary of £40,000.
Chelsea, who turns 23 next week, is studying for a master’s degree in international relations at University College, Oxford, which she began after taking a first in history at Stanford in California. She had a difficult start at Oxford, complaining of loneliness and, after the September 11 attacks, admitted that she had scrapped her dreams of befriending non-Americans.
“It’s hard to be abroad right now,” she wrote in an article for a New York magazine in November that year. “Every day I encounter some sort of anti-American feeling.”
She also suffered jealousy from fellow students, who complained to reporters about her bodyguards or sold stories about her.
Within a few months, however, she appeared to have found love with Ian Klaus, a 22-year-old Rhodes Scholar studying history at Jesus.
“Oxford is wonderful, I’m having a great time,” Chelsea reported last spring.
Recently, the gossip columns have barely been able to keep up with her social appearances, mixing high culture and charity fund-raising with an unabashed fondness for a good night out. Complete with a new straightened hairstyle, she was photographed everywhere from the front row at Donatella Versace’s couture show in Paris to a ball thrown by Sir Elton John.
She was seen out on the town with her father and Bono, the pop star, on holiday at the home of Oscar de la Renta, the fashion designer, and her college pigeonhole became so overloaded with invitations that she was forced to hire a personal assistant. She recently attended a fund-raising party for the Old Vic theatre in London, where the guests included the Duke of York. She has been seen at London’s Groucho Club and at film premieres with Sir Paul McCartney and his wife Heather Mills.
An only child, Chelsea was 12 when she moved to the White House, leaving the sleepy atmosphere of Little Rock, Arkansas, for the constant scrutiny and oppressive security of Washington DC.
Her mother, Hillary, now the Senator for New York, sought advice from Jackie Kennedy Onassis on raising a White House child. “Be ruthless about keeping the public from the private,” the former first lady reportedly advised. As scandals mounted around her parents she attracted her own share of merciless commentary, much of it focused on her braces, puppy fat and curly hair.
Yet for all their desire to maintain her privacy, her parents took every opportunity to expose their daughter to new cultures and experiences and she was her father’s official escort on presidential trips to Africa and India.
If she accepts McKinsey’s offer, she will join a company which ranks William Hague and many other pillars of the British and American establishment among its former employees.
She would also benefit from one of the best graduate recruitment packages around, with bonuses that could double her annual earnings. However, the firm is legendary for the demands it makes of its employees and she would be expected to work long hours and travel extensively.
Hiring her would be a coup for McKinsey, which has suffered heavily from the fallout that followed the end of the Internet bubble and its relationship with Enron, the bankrupt US energy company.
However, it still prides itself on being able to open the doors of the most powerful people in the world. One source close to the company said: “McKinsey is more like a club than a company. Even the language they use is deliberately collegiate. A project is called a study and an outside meeting a retreat.
“The ethos is generally, ‘This is the best firm in the world’ and you could say some of the people are a bit smug and complacent. But they are all very academic and talented and have usually won all sorts of prizes.”
Chelsea has yet to sign up but those who work there believe it is a near certainty. One said: “McKinsey is regarded by a lot of people as a good place to start wherever you end up in your career, whether it be chief executive or leader of the Tory Party.”
A McKinsey spokesman said: “All applications are treated with complete confidentiality.”
A spokesman at Bill Clinton’s office in Harlem would only remark: “She is a private citizen.”
The Daily Telegraph