I came to McKinsey without any formal business training: I am a scientist at heart. I wasn't sure if my background would pose a challenge to a career in consulting, but it's been just the opposite, in large part because McKinsey is a place where you have constant opportunities to learn. My first weeks at the Firm, before I'd done any actual work, were spent learning. The first week, I got a basic consulting regimen. My next three weeks were spent in Austria, doing a mini-MBA, where top business school professors taught crash courses in finance, strategy, operations, and marketing. Now, I see my background as an advantage. I do a lot of work with pharmaceutical companies, and my chemistry knowledge gives me a credibility that I wouldn't have otherwise.
Building client relationships is one of the things I've grown to love about McKinsey. I came in thinking I would love the problem solving aspect of it, and that is very true, but the highlights of my career at the firm have been around building strong relationships with clients and seeing them succeed. Early on in my time here, I was working with a medical device company, one that was really struggling to compete, on a complete transformational effort. At the time, I was one year into being an associate, and I ended up working closely with the lead client on a commercial team. We developed a really nice relationship, and as we worked together, I could see that he was just getting what we were doing, that he was taking hold of our combined ideas and really owning them. We had a big meeting scheduled about halfway through the project, and this client got up and delivered an impressive presentation to a group of his peers and his senior colleagues. It was such a proud moment for me. Not because we'd turned the company around on that day; for me, the impact was really at a personal level. Seeing this client step into a leadership role was very fulfilling for me.
Coming from my chemistry background, where I had planned to become a professor, I was looking at getting tenure and staying in one place, possibly for the rest of my life. So McKinsey's Global Rotation program, which offers the opportunity to move to different locations around the world, was instantly appealing to me. I spent about 10 months in London and then another 6 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and it was just a wonderful, wonderful experience. I learned so much working in an environment like that, in a different culture, on projects and content that were outside of my normal scope.
Now that I'm back in New York, I still have this network that I built while I was traveling. I know that if I have a client who's thinking about entering Brazil, for example, I have a perspective there, I have people I can call up and ask, very seamlessly. It's pretty powerful.
Learning and Growing
I genuinely believe that people at McKinsey, the people that you work with, really do want you to get better and to learn. Take my example: coming from a PhD program, I had, literally, no business experience. I came to the firm without knowing what now seem to be the real basics; I never even took economics in college. My first study at McKinsey was with an engagement manager who ran my Insight Healthcare program. He took me under his wing right away, and now, he regularly says to me, 'It's amazing how far you've come'. I came from a place where I had no concept of how value is measured or created in the business world, and now I'm sitting in senior meetings, counseling clients, and building deep, lasting relationships. It's been a tremendous journey.
What I do in my free time
I really like to travel. I also like to be active, I run and swim, I do an occasional sprint triathlon, and I enjoy exercising on the ‘rings’: freestanding fitness equipment installed in NYC’s Riverside Park. I hang out with my daughter whenever I can, and I like to go to nice restaurants and have dinner with my wife and friends.
||PhD, Organic Chemistry