When I was at Stanford, I had McKinsey consultants already coaching me, walking me through the process. They invested time in me because they wanted me to succeed. As a result, I learned that investing in other people's success is one of the key things real leaders have to do—it's about finding the next set of people you want to coach.
A passion for people and Africa
Being a mentor is a big focus of mine. I'm involved with a lot of other people who have the same passion I have for Africa—for driving success and making a difference here. One group within McKinsey is the BCSS—a network enabling black client service staff to connect with other black professionals who can help them navigate the firm and guide their development. I also am a member of two other mentoring groups focusing on economic development and social issues, respectively, and I'm the partner who leads recruiting in Johannesburg. We're transforming the office to make it more representative of the environment in Sub-Saharan Africa.
One engagement plus one year turns into the future
While still with the Atlanta office, I was involved in a study on AIDS in Uganda aimed at increasing access to drugs for people with HIV. Since I'm from Cameroon and AIDS is the biggest problem facing Africa today, this study was of special interest to me. At first we were focused on drug distribution, but we soon realized that distribution wasn't the problem—it was the fact that people can't afford these drugs in the first place. At the end of the study and with the state beginning to implement our recommendations, the drug companies dropped the cost of drugs by 90 percent. We literally saved lives in Uganda.
Afterward I returned to Atlanta, but in 2002. I requested a one-year transfer to Johannesburg for another engagement. I'm still here.
“We're doing good, meaningful work and helping our clients; but more importantly, we are really playing a meaningful role in supporting the economic rebirth of the Continent.”
Having an impact across a continent
McKinsey offers me a unique avenue for having an impact. In Johannesburg, we have opportunities to make a difference across Africa. We do a lot of work in the public sector—in addition to our private sector work. We recently helped create the overall vision and economic growth strategy for an African country, with an overall aspiration to grow the economy by 10 percent a year for the next 25 years. We worked hand in hand with members of government, representatives from the public and the private sector, and key constituencies all over the country to come up with clear strategies and a robust plan to deliver on the vision.
We're doing good, meaningful work and helping our clients; but more importantly, we are really playing a meaningful role in supporting the economic rebirth of the Continent.
What stands out for me
People know the phrase "making your own McKinsey" as a tagline, but it's real. It's about finding your passion because given how hard we work we have to be passionate about what we do. You need to find the thing you're passionate about but also the people who share your passion. Find the people who support you and want to do it with you. Then go after it.
Passion is powerful
I hope everybody in the firm has a chance to do something they are passionate about. It doesn't have to be with AIDS in Africa, but to know you've had real impact on people's lives is very powerful. It's truly rewarding to feel you're contributing to something great and that the company you work for is dedicated to such causes.
||PhD, Electrical Engineering
||MEng, Industrial Engineering/Engineering Management
||MEng, Electrical Engineering
|Georgia Institute of Technology
||BS, Electrical Engineering