Why I Joined a McKinsey
As I was getting to the end of my PhD—as much as I enjoyed and was passionate about it—I looked at the professors around me and realized academia was not my path. I liked the idea of trying out a range of possibilities that would give me ‘real-world’ experience.
Investment in People
Learning about McKinsey’s training programs and investment in people was a major factor in my decision to join. McKinsey offers an incomparable package of training and support, including a three-week mini-MBA program when you first join with a non-business background. I feel valued both as an employee and as a PhD in particular – while I built up my business knowledge through formal and on-the-job training, I brought expert training, experiences, and maturity to the table from day 1.
My first study was in banking, and was a lot of fun. My team took care of me: they supported and encouraged me without making me feel rushed or inadequate. While the learning curve was high, it turned out to be an easier transition than I thought. The mini-MBA helped with the basic parlance and my team helped with the rest, whether that meant pointing me to the right website to define banking terms or helping me see the universality of the issues we were dealing with.
Without a doubt, having my PhD has helped me in my work here. I haven't come across fossils, of course, but there's a lot of room for independence and speaking your mind and opinions, which I experienced in academia. Also, coming from science, where you communicate with a wide range of people, scientists or professors, I’ve learned to answer in a language my audience will understand. There are definitely some benefits in not coming from a strict business background.
Joy of Teamwork
My biggest surprise has been how much enjoyment I get out of working with clients and colleagues. When I was in academia I thought it was a bit lonely but that it suited my personality. Now I know I really enjoy having someone to interact with and solve problems with. It sounds cheesy, but now I can’t imagine working without a team. That's become the foundation of my work.
I did a climate change study aimed at helping a small island in the Pacific adapt to rising sea levels. We looked at their options in terms of financial damage and risk, as well as in terms of their overall social structure. What I found really interesting was thinking about this culture based on marine existence, tourism, and the like—how do you convince them to build houses further up the hill, what kinds of incentive can you offer, and how do you communicate the risks?
What I Do in My Free Time
I love oil painting, which I studied as an undergrad and had always considered an alternative career possibility. For me, art helps balance out the practical work we do every day. This spring I’ll start showing my work around London.
|University of Oxford
|California Institute of Technology
||BA, Visual Arts, Geology