My family and I live in Brussels, but I work throughout Europe and Asia. Every summer we take a big family vacation, discover new places, and have new adventures.
As an experienced professional, I chose McKinsey over an MBA
I worked in the petroleum industry for nearly six years before joining McKinsey. I was hesitating between two MBA schools and got in touch with McKinsey because they had a support program for young high potentials who were considering business school. I decided to join McKinsey rather than spending two years at a school. One reason for my joining McKinsey was essentially to grow and discover new things. I spent time discovering and trying out a large number of different industries. I found pharmaceuticals when I was a first-year engagement manager, and from then on, I had a growing passion for pharma.
The flexibility balances the hard work
McKinsey makes it possible to have balance in your life if you discipline yourself to do so. I’ve been able to take breaks between projects. Every summer I take a big trip with my wife and three children. We discover new countries and new experiences. The rest of the year, weekends are sacred. I travel most of the time, but whenever I work in Belgium, I try to work from home versus at the office.
If you look at the lifestyle on a weekly basis, the hours might seem long, but if you look at it on a quarterly or yearly basis, I think we have a great lifestyle because we can build in such terrific flexibility. For me this is the perfect balance. I like the adrenaline rush once in a while from working hard, combined with this tremendous flexibility to shape your career and shape your time around it.
McKinsey welcomes entrepreneurial thinking
I really value the entrepreneurial feeling at McKinsey. To me that means being entrepreneurial in terms of client service—you try to open doors, make contacts, and have the right discussions, and your team and the firm support you. I like the feeling of shaping things, and I think McKinsey gives you a lot of room to shape things on the client front.
For instance, I recently wanted to do something new and had the opportunity to join different colleagues to rethink our perspective on the pharmaceutical go-to-market model in Japan. We’re trying to help the industry develop a more innovative and effective way of taking new products to market. Within six months, we had discussions with a large number of pharmaceutical companies in Japan. You reach out to people, and being part of McKinsey, you have incredible access to leaders in the business to shape discussions and create new opportunities.
Mentorship and expertise make things happen
Very early on in my time here, I was working on a team with three young business analysts, and none of us had much experience. But we had a commitment twelve weeks down the line to hold a massive conference on a marketing and sales topic. At the end of week one, we were still debating the right framework for the conference. Mentoring got us through it. I reached out to a senior partner and told him “things are not going great.” He spent hours with me helping me think through what to do. That gave me a solid action plan. We reached out to the best marketing and sales experts from the firm, the team worked hard to pull the conference off, and we had tremendous client impact. It was a great experience.
Why I stay at McKinsey
One reason I joined McKinsey was to grow. I stay because of the people, the challenges, and the opportunity to shape your own passion, program, and environment.
|Vrije Universiteit Brussel