I’ve been with McKinsey for more than 25 years and currently work as a partner in Washington, D.C. I’ve been an avid bicyclist for a long time, and I’ve gotten my husband, my two children, and several McKinsey friends and their spouses involved in bicycling too.
"The quality of the work we do, the problem solving and the impact we have are completely compelling. And we have incredible people—extraordinarily motivated and talented. I learn from them every day."
McKinsey helped me do what I most enjoy
I majored in economics in college and concentrated on finance for my MBA I didn’t study marketing, but when I joined McKinsey, people described some of the different studies I could get involved in, and I found that I always gravitated to the ones that involved consumers. I’ve crafted my career around things I enjoy—people I enjoy working with, clients I enjoy working with, and things I find fun. My general philosophy is that life is too short not to have fun.
An unexpected opportunity
During the Clinton Administration, the federal government was looking for someone to help transform the Treasury department. There were 14 different operations in Treasury, and the IRS and a couple of others were under tremendous pressure to become more effective. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and some other people were talking about it one day, and one of them, a former McKinsey associate, mentioned my name. I was not politically connected, but all of the other people also happened to know me.
When they called, I said, “If you’re willing to embrace significant change, then you’re looking at the right person. But if you just want to keep the trains running on time, don’t ask me to do this job.” It turned out to be a great opportunity, and McKinsey was very supportive of it.
Launching a new practice area
When I returned to McKinsey, people in government started to call, asking us to help them with their problems. We said yes to some of them and had a great time with their projects. And then a small group of us convinced the firm to pursue consulting in the public sector. We argued that in many countries government accounts for 40 percent of the economy, and if we were truly going to have an impact and improve economies, we could not ignore government. As we started to engage in this area, we saw two important things happening: we were having tremendous impact in the public sector, and our teams were loving the work. I am now focusing the next chapter of my career on helping to lead the Public Sector Practice.
Impact as a young associate
I was an associate in the New York office way back when and felt we should be doing upward feedback—that we should have 360-degree feedback. The office manager at the time had an associate advisor group and supported the idea. This might have been heresy in another place. We put in the first 360-degree feedback system that has now been expanded to the whole firm. I know many of the things we do here have been driven by an associate somewhere in the firm.
Balancing home and work
I’ve always kept my weekends sacred. I am highly productive during the week, but I can count on one hand the weekends I’ve worked in more than 25 years with the firm. That means I have two real days with my spouse and my kids knowing I’m present with them. That has been a great balance.
Also, my husband and I decided at the very beginning that when I’m out of town, if there is any way I can get home in the evening, I will get home. Even if I finish late and have to take a late flight, I do it, rather than get more sleep by staying over and going back the next day. It also has made clear to my husband that he was and is the most important person in my life.
How I spend my free time
Every year we take a big bicycling vacation in Europe. This year we’re going to Provence as a family, and my husband and I do an annual bike trip in Napa Valley. Also, my 15-year-old son is a baseball player, and my husband runs the little league, so I go to a lot of the games.
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