The great thing about McKinsey is they pair interviewees up with an experienced person at the firm who’s been through the process, and knows what it takes. That person is your guide. After I heard I had been selected for a first-round interview, someone at McKinsey called me and said, I’m here to help, I’ll run cases with you, I’ll do whatever it takes to prepare you so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to work here. That instilled a ton of confidence. Then, when I joined the firm, McKinsey matched me with two mentors, a 2nd year BA who became one of my closest friends at the firm and a partner with whom I have developed an important and meaningful relationship.
New challenges to rise to daily
My friends in other businesses say they get good at their jobs to the point that they don’t feel like it’s ever different or challenging. They improve and get praise, but they don’t feel like they consistently learn. Not only is every project different than the last at McKinsey, I get challenged in different ways every week in the same project: it could be an organizational issue with the client that needs looking at, it could be strategic problem solving, it could be figuring out how I get the facts I need. There’s constantly a different problem that I need to navigate.
Growing into a thought partner for client leaders
I came in with a certain set of skills – I knew I was good at presenting to a group and communicating well. For me one of the big growth areas was thinking about how I go from presenting to peers to being a thought partner to clients. There’s formal training and informal training, both have been instrumental in my growth. Formally, there’s incredible training for the analyst class, associates, engagement managers – everyone. There’s semi-weekly training where we approach a different topic, for example: how to do company valuation, what is going on in the insurance industry, or how to lead effectively. We sit down with McKinsey topic area experts and learn from them, we talk to partners and associate principals about their experiences, and we have sessions led by 2nd year BAs who help explore and develop the fundamental BA skill set.
My first project was one of the most awesome experiences I could have asked for. The most amazing part was the level of client interaction I had. We were working with top management at a major pharmaceutical company, helping them figure out how to pair technology solutions with traditional drug based therapies to deliver more effective care. These integrated solutions are the future of medicine, and they range from text message and other electronic reminders for Alzheimer’s patients, who have trouble adhering to their medicine schedule, to ingestible pills that measure and record various body metrics such as heart rate and transmit this information to healthcare providers. We helped the team, which included the company’s Chief Medical Officer, Chief Procurement Executive, and various sector and therapeutic area directors decide what solutions would be best for them, and then helped them present the recommendation to the CEO and board. When the executives went before their bosses to present, every single one of the ideas we had together received approval, and people unrelated to the project wanted to be involved with implementing them. It was great to see the whole organization rallying behind our ideas.
Exploring private equity
Recently, I helped a private equity firm decide if it should invest in a company in a very volatile sector. The project was a three-week due diligence effort, and we helped the client understand the competitive and economic landscape: What is this company and how do they differentiate themselves from other players in the field? One of the important issues we had to consider was the effect foreign investment would have on the sector and if it could prematurely drive consolidation that would limit the company’s competitive position and the PE firm’s return on their investment. We built a brand new analytics model from scratch to evaluate different scenarios, but that was only a small part of the project. It was exciting to take on an investigative journalist role, interviewing CEOs and top executives from different industries who had worked with companies in the same sector that our client was considering. To build our recommendation, we were combining McKinsey’s expert knowledge, an analytical model, and perspectives from leading companies around the world. We determined that while the niche sector might prove a good investment, overall global trends informed by our interviews led us to believe that developments over the short term would be too risky.
For me, the best thing here is the people
The best thing about McKinsey, for me, is the people here. In every one of my projects, the McKinsey teams I work with are committed to helping both the client make a difference in the problem or opportunity it is facing and each member of the team develop. They want me to get better all the time, and when I do, then they want me to excel in the next area. Each project is about helping the client understand and conquer one of its most challenging problems while providing new opportunities for individuals on the team to challenge their capabilities and build new strengths. McKinsey is a meritocracy and an incredible learning environment. I am working with people I respect. And we’re really fun; I’ve built incredible friendships.
McKinsey has vast resources
One of the rewarding things we learn here in our first days and weeks is figuring out the best way to take advantage of McKinsey’s huge resources. We have an enormous network we can tap into. There are people I can call or email for expertise on any topic area: people who have worked on similar studies will help colleagues get on the right track and get to the solution faster. My advice to new joiners is to encourage them from day one to take advantage of the mentorship: reach out to people to get connected. McKinsey isn’t about tackling a problem by oneself; we navigate new problems and new industries as a team, and our resources are there to help maximize our impact.
Lifestyle balance, fun, and building my network
McKinsey is a place where you work hard but you don’t feel like it’s taking over your life. We are not ever there trying to put in face time. We are at work to make a difference. An environment like that has a great group of people to spend time with. For example, if it’s a Thursday and we’re leaving work early, we’ll all go grab a drink together before heading home. Outside of work, there are tons of events for us to bond and spend time. I think about McKinsey as a community that I am part of. The relationships that I am building will be important to me in the future, too. I constantly feel like I am growing my network.
Exploring new places with friends
I like to spend time with my friends, taking advantage of what’s available in New York, spending weekends in Central Park, exploring Brooklyn, or walking any of the great neighborhoods downtown. I also take a lot of trips to interesting countries around the world. Though I have already visited about 40 countries on 6 continents, I have only explored a small fraction of the world. I am looking forward to planning my next big trip with one of my best friends and travel partner.
||BA, Cultural Anthropology, Economics