After working in consumer goods for a Belgian company for eight or nine years, I wanted to do something different. Friends of mine working at McKinsey suggested I interview with the firm. I’m still based in Belgium, but my work takes me all over the world.
McKinsey values its people
There is a big difference between working at McKinsey and working in industry. Industry is all about products, production lines, and factories—everything is tangible. Consulting is all about people. McKinsey has made me feel like I am one of its unique assets, and that is quite an experience.
I’ve found the work I want
I had been working in packaged foods, and my primary objective at McKinsey was to learn about other industries. To get that experience, you need to get to know people, starting with your staffing people. I told them I wanted to explore different industries, and they helped me do so. Once I’d been involved in a few projects and built my own network, I quickly heard about other interesting projects.
In the end, however, the choices I’ve made have been largely based on people. I found a really nice group to work with in pharmaceuticals, and I find the industry interesting because it is evolving so quickly.
You can have impact from the start
When you start at McKinsey, you’re a full team member as of day one. That means you get full exposure to the client and the rest of the team. You’re someone from McKinsey, and people tend to listen.
In my very first study, we were looking into the operations of a pharmaceutical company. Because I was the only person on the team who knew something about cost accounting in a production environment, I was able to make an authoritative contribution.
You learn by doing
When you join the firm, especially as an experienced hire like me, you need to invest at least a year learning basic consulting skills. That goes from creating a slide for a presentation to the way we interact with clients and our team. But in the end, I don’t think there’s any training that prepares you fully for working with clients and working in teams. That’s where you learn the most.
McKinsey creates a sense of belonging
We have office retreats for everyone at the firm and their spouses or partners. It’s a unique opportunity to involve the rest of your family in the McKinsey network. Of course, you get along with a few people really well and become more than colleagues—you become friends. At the retreats, we talk about how the office is doing and how to make sure people are satisfied at work, but the rest of the occasion is more social. In Crete, we went by boat to remote beaches. Last year we went to Sardinia and rode in jeeps into the mountains. We stopped in a pasture where sheep were running around and had a very nice dinner, along with a spectacular view of the Mediterranean.
|Vlerick Leuven Gent Management
||PGD, Financial Management
||Licentiaat, Applied Economics