I particularly enjoy client studies that involve capability-building. This enjoyment is driven by my teaching background. Rather than simply present an answer to them, we work with the client in the team room to generate the solution or answer to a problem. We then coach them on implementation. Recently, we went into a pharmaceutical manufacturing company to implement ‘Lean.’ This approach looks at their processes to identify areas for increased efficiencies. I was directly coaching one person who would become one of the lean coaches when the project finished. In the beginning, it was me doing work and showing her what it looked like. By the end, she was guessing what I’d do next. Ultimately, I had the opportunity to see her coaching other people, which was extremely rewarding. I was surprised how sad I felt leaving after two and a half months. We’re still in contact to make sure things are going well, and I’m always available to help out with analysis.
"I love helping clients find solutions to their problems and helping them grow in their roles. To me, that's just as rewarding as teaching in a classroom."
I feel very close to the people on my team and the other McKinsey consultants. I was nervous about whether I’d feel a strong connection with the rest of my office, especially since we’re only in the office on Fridays, but I do and it’s great. McKinsey does an excellent job of making sure we have events like holiday parties and seasonal events (e.g., Pumpkin Patch) that foster connectivity with partners, engagement managers and other associates. Also, every couple of months, we will have workshops to discuss relevant topics such as “Finding a good work-life balance” or “How to interpret feedback”. During these workshops, I not only develop professionally, but also connect with my colleagues. Aside from the official McKinsey events, on weekends I often meet up with other McKinsey people – we don’t talk about work though, we just hang out.
The BCSS Support Network
This year we had a virtual BCSS (Black Consultant Service Staff) conference as a way to reenergize and connect everyone in the community. People from smaller offices flew to bigger hubs that then connected via video conference. There was at least one partner in every location. We spent two hours in the ‘virtual plenary session’, then had lunch and an alumni happy hour. It was a great way to remind everyone of the support network that we have and can continue to reach out to. Byron Auguste, a director, came to hold office hours, and we all had the opportunity to sit down with him and have one-on-one conversations. During my time with him, he provided very helpful advice that encouraged me to continue to take on engagement manager level responsibilities while I am still an associate. This would help ensure my continued development. The advice was definitely well timed and much appreciated.
Banana Plants in Costa Rica
One of my projects was working with Earth University in Costa Rica, a non-profit that teaches students about sustainable agriculture. They give scholarships and raise money through either fundraising or another revenue stream. They have a banana plantation, which generates banana waste, which is either thrown away or dumped into the ocean. They came up with the idea of using it to produce banana paper. Our task was to determine where they could actually sell it. We had the opportunity to go to Costa Rica for a week to see the university first-hand. It was very beautiful! I could absolutely feel the mission. They cared about sustainability, and they were extremely pleased and thankful for our help. We created a plan for their growth strategy, which they are now implementing.
I personally have been able to establish a great balance between work and life. On the road I work hard as do my colleagues. On most weekends, I limit my work. I feel like the engagement managers I’ve had really assist in protecting our lifestyles. We do something called "team learning" at the beginning of each project. During these sessions, we talk about our lifestyle, the type of people we are, our goals or development needs, and we make a point of setting boundaries.
Why I Stay
I feel like I’m learning in every situation I’m put in, not just during formal training. The development for me has really come from on-the-job learning. When I’m in conversations with my staffing manager, the questions that direct the staffing process are “What do you want to work on now? What’s the next logical skill to prove or hone?” As I invest my time and energy in working, I want to make sure I’m growing as a person. Beyond that, my professional development manager and mentors are great about helping me find projects I'm interested in and/or will enjoy consulting on. I’m learning about things that I believe are relevant, and I am never bored.
I have a passion for operations and believe this is where I’ll continue to focus. At the same time, I also want to become more involved with the education practice. I wanted to gain traditional consulting skills in a for-profit environment, but would eventually like to use my operations knowledge in the education sector. Ultimately, I want to help people learn –in the classroom or in the boardroom.
|Harvard Business School
|University of Pennsylvania