Why I stay at McKinsey
Before joining, I thought McKinsey was going to be a stodgy, uptight place. That is not true. In fact, McKinsey is an amazing collection of interesting individuals. Some of my closest friends are at McKinsey or are alum. A big part of why I stay is because of these friendships. For me, it makes McKinsey more than just a place to work.
I was a brand manager for a packaged goods company before I came to McKinsey. I joined McKinsey because I wanted more variety in my career, as well as an opportunity to focus on the things I loved about brand management, such as strategy and growth. At McKinsey I ended up becoming involved with an unbelievable network of former brand managers who helped and mentored me. They were also women, which was really terrific.
Breadth of Experience
My first experience as an engagement manager was in the telecom industry and we were writing a marketing plan for a client. It was two months before the FCC was opening their market to competition and they needed to quickly learn how to market to consumers. I went kicking and screaming because it was outside of the packaged goods industry, but it was a fabulous experience and opened up my eyes about this place called McKinsey. I had been so narrowly focused on only doing packaged goods, but suddenly I realized I could have a great development experience and deliver unbelievable impact in a new sector. Since then, I’ve probably worked in almost every sector—oil and gas, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, insurance; I have had a real breadth of experiences along the way, while still being able to ‘come back to my heart’ around packaged and consumer goods. I found this to be one of the unique aspects of McKinsey. This variety of experiences help round me out, showing me the world through many lenses.
Greatest moment of satisfaction
We have an obesity epidemic in the United States, and unfortunately, it disproportionately affects African Americans. I proposed to the consumer practice leadership that McKinsey should be involved in an initiative working with the food and retail industry to think about what companies could do systematically as an industry to try to make some progress on this issue. McKinsey was unbelievably supportive. We had a full-time team working with the industry association and some of the leading food manufacturers and retailers to come up with an agenda that the industry could drive to try to address the obesity epidemic—specific initiatives with children, families, and government. It was an unbelievable experience to work on an issue that impacts millions of people.
Maternity Leave and Knowledge Development
In 1998 I had my first child. I was able to take off seven months, which was something I didn’t fully appreciate about McKinsey. Because our work is project-based, it is possible to take chunks of time off and come back. And because, like most of my McKinsey colleagues, I have enduring and long-term relationships with my clients, my being away from them for several months is really just a blip in time. I came back part-time after maternity leave and stayed part-time for twelve years. During that time, I had my second child.
The black consultants (BCSS) at McKinsey community is fairly spread out geographically, and I find the conferences are a great opportunity to see folks and to get re-grounded, to check in with one another, and to share experiences and learn from one another. The conferences focus on professional development, with topics informed by the needs of the BCSS community. Early on in my career I recall going to some very valuable sessions, about how to stand up and defend your point of view, for example. Another was this amazing workshop around McKinsey’s network and how to build an external network. BCSS has been really important in helping me think about and enhance my professional development.
What I do in my free time / my hobbies
I am a big outdoors person and love biking, hiking, and skiing. My husband and I were both competitive sports athletes. Our kids are at the age where they are getting involved in sports too, and we enjoy sharing that passion with them.