When I joined McKinsey, I was staffed right away on a team revamping the performance system of a commercial bank. My responsibility was the human resources management system—recruiting, training, evaluating, compensating. It felt like a lot of responsibility for a new joiner, but the team really helped me by guiding me through the problem solving. That kind of exposure and expectation that people have of you from day one made me push myself harder.
Developing persuasion skills
I was on an engagement helping a client consider where they should concentrate their future growth: should it be digital TVs or something very different, such as PDAs or game consoles. We had a large team, all with very strong perspectives. We had many heated discussions. But those intense discussions were what brought us to, in hindsight, the correct conclusion for the client. Trying to persuade team members taught me how to persuade clients. And I learned that at McKinsey, it is okay to say what you need to say, and you can walk away from disagreements with no hard feelings.
Emphasis on ethics
As a team we discuss ethics a lot. There might be an easy answer, but is it really the right thing to do? I worked with a client who wanted to run an expensive workshop. The client was prepared to pay, and our team could have arranged it without difficulty. It would have been easy to agree. But our team felt strongly that there would have been no client impact as a result of the workshop, and we spent time and effort persuading the client not to throw their money into it.
Looking into a nuclear reactor
I have worked in many different industries and done things I never expected to do. Once we were working with a company in the energy industry. One client executive thought the McKinsey team needed to see what he was talking about in person. We said, “Sure!” and followed him—to the top of a nuclear reactor, ten-stories off ground level, before the dome had been put on! We were looking right down into the reactor. It was scary, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Billion dollar projects build confidence
Thinking through the strategy of a company that’s worth billions of dollars builds your confidence. Having such experiences in your back pocket means when the next big challenge comes along, you know you can handle it. That’s the biggest change I’ve experienced at McKinsey—my growth in confidence and perspective.
|Kellogg School of Management
||MS, Fashion Marketing