My career started in a specialty market research firm. While there I often noticed differences between what people say they want and what they actually choose. This was something I wanted to study more deeply, so I went back to school and got my PhD in the psychology of decision making.
After my graduate studies, I was prepared to enter the academic job market until I found out about management consulting. I started out at a smaller consulting firm. After three or four years I found that I was able to integrate what I knew about market research with higher-level strategic problems. That’s when I found McKinsey, and was delighted to discover the opportunities it offered to apply insights about customers to challenging business problems.
Making lasting change
My greatest moment of satisfaction came from working with a banking client in Europe. They asked our team to help them develop a strategy that would allow them to be more customer focused. Our client knew they needed a unified approach to managing relationships with their customers, but couldn't agree about how to achieve that. Most of this company's customers dealt with them for several different products, each managed by a different business unit - with its own marketing challenges and lens on the customer. We worked with the client to separate the business decisions that required coordination across products from those that should be made by individual business units. This allowed us to help them define a hierarchy of customer segmentation approaches that provided the appropriate insights for each constituency and clarified the organizational structure they needed to gather and use customer insights more effectively in the future.
The work was so gratifying because its impact went beyond just achieving the client’s business objectives. It also helped their internal consumer experts become more central to how the organization works. We completed this work several years ago; recently, I heard from one of my clients there that the company is much more customer focused overall and that he and his internal marketing colleagues are taking on new responsibilities and new leadership roles because of the work we did.
Personal discovery - Leadership
When I made the transition from Expert to Senior Expert, I realized that I possessed leadership abilities that I’d been unaware of. As a functional expert, I was used to leading with ideas, but I was not used to leading people. Making the transition to Sr. Expert gave me the opportunity to develop my people leadership skills. The rewards of leading people are surprisingly rich, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to grow this capability. One of the most important things I've learned at McKinsey is how to be a people leader, not “just” a knowledge leader.
Building leadership skills
People want leaders who bring out their best, but no one follows a know-it-all. Striking the right balance between telling and asking is hard for everyone, but especially challenging for functional experts. One of the most important things I learned from our Client Leadership Workshop (CLW) training is that if you want to be a good leader, at the end of the day, you have to realize “it's not about you.”
I learned that I‘m better off approaching colleagues and clients in ways that lead them to discover answers for themselves, rather than telling them my “expert answer.” It’s more motivating for my teams, and sometimes leads to insights that teach me something new, too.
What I do in my free time \ hobbies
I spend a lot of time with my family. I have two kids, and being a good dad and a good teacher to them is just as important to me as being a leader to our clients.
|Carnegie Mellon University
||PhD, General Science
|Carnegie Mellon University
||MSc, General Science
|University of Michigan
||BA, Political Science