I probably have too many interests—sailing, skiing, tennis, travel, and of course my work at McKinsey. But the biggest thing in my life is my two boys. Since they are my highest priority, I have worked hard at achieving a good balance between my personal and professional lives.
Many opportunities to grow and change
There are different phases of growth at McKinsey. The first couple of years provided a huge learning curve—learning the tools of the trade, if you will. It’s totally different from business school, because all of a sudden you are faced with trying to challenge and give advice to people who are running businesses.
The next growth curve came from taking more responsibility. We had a study for a large daily newspaper in Sweden. I was a one-year associate working with two other associates and a senior engagement manager. I worked with a very high-powered chief editor and a tough-minded CEO. To them, I was McKinsey. I had to learn to deal with the panic that sets in when you feel so responsible, and then learn to represent McKinsey.
The last growth curve for me has been managerial growth. To lead a practice and some large client service teams, you feel part consultant, part manager. It gives you a broader challenge, and it’s been really rejuvenating to me.
"The thing I like best is to solve problems with smart McKinsey people and smart clients. That is why I’m still here. On top of that, building a practice has made it much more fun. It’s a richer experience."
If I can’t make people around me successful, I won’t succeed
You quickly realize you can’t lead a practice or develop a client or create a bigger and more impactful client service team by yourself. You can’t be involved in everything; you can’t see every document. So you have to build something beyond yourself, through the people you influence on a day-to-day basis.
You have to build a group of people who are really successful, because if they’re not successful, you won’t be either. Almost automatically, you start to focus more on other people’s success than your own. The paradoxical thing, of course, is that if you do that, ultimately you become more successful, too. That means I spend a lot of time working with people on their programs, trying to help people match up with the right opportunities.
McKinsey has accommodated my personal goals
My two boys are my highest priority and for the past two years, I’ve had custody of them every other week. It’s difficult, but I had to make it work. I became the first McKinsey director to go on a part-time program; while I was sorting out how to spend the time with my kids that I wanted to. I worked 80 percent time for about six months. Now I’m back to full-time and enjoying it.
Since I work internationally, I try to travel as much as I can every other week and travel much less on the weeks I’m responsible for my children. It’s not always possible, but it works pretty well. When I’m not traveling, I take them to school most mornings, and I try to be home by six so I can be with them. It’s a matter of planning and of making sure my assistant is aware of the situation to help work it out. Of course, you also have to be a little bit flexible and not be too hard on yourself when it doesn’t work.
McKinsey satisfies my entrepreneurial streak
I have a bit of an entrepreneurial streak and McKinsey gives me the best of both worlds. I feel as if I am running my own business in some way, with the client service teams, client situations. and the practice I run. At the same time, it isn’t as lonely as running my own company, and it doesn’t feel as risky, because I’m doing it in the context of a partnership. It’s a very supportive environment. I am part of a big group of people I really like and respect.
|Stockholm School of Economics
||MA, Business Administration