As an English major doctor with entrepreneurial experience at two startups I had an atypical path to McKinsey. I actually came in a little cynical, thinking I would spend a couple of years at McKinsey and go do something else, with that blue chip on my resume. I was surprised how much I learned– not just about business analytics, which I expected, but about how to structure and solve virtually any problem and how to effectively work with, lead and inspire colleagues and clients to action. The people surprised me as well – frankly I expected a pretty homogenous bunch and found a terrific diversity of background, culture, interests, activities mixed with great intellectual engagement and excitement. At the end of the day, anyone who stays at McKinsey for any length of time will point to the people.
Define your own expertise
Many people I speak to with advanced professional degrees worry that they will struggle compared to their business school educated colleagues. The fact is everyone on a team brings a different area of depth. The value of the technical expertise that any consultant at McKinsey with an advanced professional degree brings is that you have the context to frame discussions and have intelligent discussions with people outside our firm who are deep experts on very technical topics. You know the language, you know the context, and you can get to the bottom of issues quickly, because you have the contextual setting to put them in. We are not trying to bring in the people who know the most about biomedical engineering or the nuances of oncology products. We are trying to find people who can apply context from their prior life and bring that context to the general business problem solving we do.
Creating networks of experts
I have helped lead our efforts to further develop this specialized expertise into formal networks of experts both within McKinsey and beyond our walls. We developed STATs (Standing Therapeutic Area Teams) that now include 150+ internal experts across the globe in 21 areas ranging from diabetes to critical care. External advisory boards of the world’s leading experts in areas from oncology to alzheimer’s augment our perspectives. Any McKinsey team can access these experts on demand in order to get smart fast and to understand the nuances of a complex, rapidly moving field. More recently we went to the finals of the “practice olympics” (a global forum for new ideas from across McKinsey) in Monte Carlo to share ideas on how to use such expert networks with colleagues across the globe in practices beyond healthcare.
Diversity of experience
I focus on healthcare but have worked on a wide range topics ranging from how a pharmaceutical company can be more effective in decision making (where we looked at analogs including Toyota, GE and the US army) to how to best structure a sales force to evaluating the potential for a new drug to helping define how a major insurance company can better collaborate with a large hospital chain. Ultimately, what you learn at McKinsey is how to define and structure virtually any problem.
The fact is that we work hard. McKinsey is an all-you-can eat festival and it’s really up to you to set your own limits and decide for yourself what you want to do or not. I have a wife and three kids – my personal policy is that the weekend is family time. I don’t schedule or do real work on weekends unless it is an emergency. And you have to be able to say “No, I would love to join you on that team, but I am tapped out and don’t have the capacity to do it.” Managing lifestyle is about being realistic, communicating clearly, and managing expectations.
|Columbia University - College of Physicians and Surgeons
|University of California - Berkeley
||BA, English Literature