Support from Day One
Working as a scientist, whenever I needed to learn a new lab technique, there wasn’t necessarily someone in my lab who knew how to do it. Even if there was, they didn’t always help very much - the culture was have a crack at it on your own for few weeks or months and see if works At times this led to a lot of frustration and no results. I was worried that learning new business skills at McKinsey might be similar solitary “figure it out yourself” experience. On one of my first projects I was asked to build a huge, complicated financial model to predict the future value of drugs in a biotech company’s R&D pipeline. I was terrified at the prospect – I had not idea where to even begin. However, my experience couldn’t have been more different than learning a new lab technique. In fact there was lots of support from day one to ensure I succeeded.
It’s very compelling to a pharmaceutical client for McKinsey to say, “Look, we’ve brought these MDs and PhDs who really know about whatever it might be—the latest drug targets for diabetes research or Alzheimer’s disease—to you.” And from the perspective of the consultant, it is an opportunity to learn a huge amount about the business side of healthcare or engineering or of whatever the focused area is. I think it opens a lot of doors.
Freedom in Choices
I liked the idea of moderate travel. I have worked in Japan, the U.K., Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and I’m about to start a study in Algeria. I never wanted to be away from home for months and months at a time, and McKinsey accommodated this preference. I wanted to focus on R&D in the pharmaceutical industry wherever possible—that’s where I came from, and that’s what my strongest interest is. I’ve also done finance work and strategy and marketing work for pharma, biotech, and medical device companies.
We worked on a project with the new CEO of a large pharmaceutical company who wanted to better understand the nuances of early stage R&D: What are the important technologies, what issues are everyone struggling with, what technologies are going to change the industry in the future, what keeps Heads of Research awake at night? We created a series of workshops for this CEO to explore these questions. It was really cool for me, having just come from working in Research to be in a role where I was explaining things to a CEO. If I’d stayed in my industry job I probably wouldn’t have met the CEO for another 20 years!
At the beginning of every project I have a conversation with my teams about what their work preferences are. Some teams like to stay together until everything is done and then go away and do no more work; others like to break quite early and have dinner with their families or exercise, then do a bit of work later at home in the evenings. I’ve done a few international studies, which is challenging, of course, when you’re married. One project that I did in Japan happened to coincide with an extended business trip that my husband had in Korea -- we had a great time meeting up in Tokyo every weekend!
|Imperial College London
||BA, Human Biology