Before I joined McKinsey, I was an entrepreneur. I wanted to try different things, and I wanted to have lots of choices. I spoke to a McKinsey alumnus, and he told me that McKinsey was a great platform for that; that I would be able to try different things, and have a variety of experiences. That is part of the reason I joined McKinsey: the knowledge that there is more than one path, and that I would be able to explore different possibilities.
Following a Passion
Now, I'm leading the public sector work in China. It is related to strategic urban planning, which was something that interested me when I was in high school, and it's really become my passion. I believe that my work has had a real impact on people, and on their day-to-day lives. Almost every project I've worked on has become reality. My projects not only improved local economic development, but I think they have also impacted people’s lives.
A Dramatic Transformation
In my second year at McKinsey, I got involved in a project working with government. Initially we thought it would be a one-time effort, but it has evolved into a long-term collaboration. Because of McKinsey's reputation, because of the network we have, and because of the trust the government had in us, we were able to totally transform one of the city's most important commercial areas and shopping districts. And it has evolved from there. Whether it is a street or a district or even a few square kilometers in a high-tech zone, we can make a difference.
Out in the Open
As a gay person, especially coming back to China, which I thought at the time was still quite conservative; I wasn’t really sure how I would feel. In my second year, I made the decision to come out. This was in the early years of the Gay and Lesbian consultants at McKinsey (GLAM) community, when it was relatively small. I knew, even prior to joining, that McKinsey was one of the first to have this type of organization, and to offer so much support gay and lesbian professionals. So that gave me confidence.
I thought that if people were cool with me coming out, and supportive of me, that this would be the place I would want to work at for many years. But I was also prepared for a negative reaction. I didn’t want to stay in a place where I would need to hide myself or pretend to be somebody else. And, as it turned out, everybody was not just very cool about it; they accepted it and actually embraced it. My experience proved that McKinsey is a truly open firm everywhere, not just within GLAM or within certain geographic areas.
Global Scale, Local Impact
The global connectivity provided through the GLAM network is so important and our global conferences are tremendous. It is quite inspirational when you see so many of your colleagues doing different things and being themselves.
The GLAM mentorship program provides a lot of professional value, but not always in the obvious ways. For my gay colleagues in Asia, I think what they appreciate is not only the fact that I help them to understand the profession; I think it’s more to give them a real example of somebody with this background. Sometimes, they may not necessarily think McKinsey could be genuine in supporting gay and lesbian professionals, that it might be just symbolic, or that there might be some sort of glass ceiling for someone with our background. But I’m a real life example, proving that if you do believe in your dream and if you do your best, this is a place where you actually can follow your passion and create impact. And you can do it and still be very different.
The environment at McKinsey has had an impact on my personal values, too. In the past, it was more about, if I’m gay, will I be tolerated by society? And, now, I think the word "tolerate" has almost disappeared from my vocabulary. It’s not just about having somebody else tolerate me; it’s not about me trying to tolerate somebody else because they are different. Instead, it's a celebration of diversity, and a way of embracing it to be truly inclusive. That is not just a McKinsey value or a personal value; it has also become part of my daily life, the way I deal with my colleagues, and the way I deal with my clients.
What I do in my free time
I travel quite a bit; I do a lot of adventure travel. My favorite place to visit is Thailand, because the people there are so genuine and so friendly, from the bottom of their hearts. I think it's because of their unique culture. That's why I love it there - and I love the warm weather.
||BComm, Entrepreneurship, Accounting
|University of Cambridge
||Undergrad, Political Science, Economics
|Shanghai International Studies University
||Undergrad, Journalism, Literature