I joined McKinsey after graduating with my PhD in Bioengineering. I think the biggest change after coming to the firm was having to let go of always being right. When I sat down with my first engagement manager, she said to me, "Give me the wrong answer first. You just need to get something down on the page so that we can tell you if you’re going in the right or wrong direction." That was one of the big revelations to me on my first study: being able to start off knowing nothing and eventually gain the expertise.
The transition from academics
It was actually a relatively smooth transition. What helped was the Mini-MBA, one of my favorite training experiences. There were 40 people from different walks of life, but we all went through this common experience of learning about business essentials and McKinsey. I got a sense very quickly of how truly global and diverse the firm was, being in the room with physicists, lawyers, and economists from places like Germany, Asia, and the Middle East.
Connecting work with my academics
I’ve found many opportunities to pursue subjects and work that I am interested in. There was even a project that came along for a company trying to commercialize a product that was very similar to my PhD thesis. I realized this was probably a unique opportunity for me to understand what it would have been like to commercialize my thesis idea. It became this perfect alignment of McKinsey and my previous life.
Having impact on a global scale
I moved away from academics because I was looking for a fast paced career that allowed me to impact very quickly. McKinsey offered the opportunity to have immediate impact on a large number of people.
Recently, I helped a pharmaceutical client with an acquisition that allowed them to access new talent and skills and drive growth in a new area. Its humbling to think that the lives of hundreds of people are changed because of this work, but the clients that I've met so far at the acquired company are very excited because they feel like it is an opportunity to do what they do best. This will be a very exciting time for them and its a great feeling to have been part of that.
The best decision I’ve ever made
In the beginning, I had a little bit of hesitation and wondered if I was closing a door to an academic career. Now, being part of the firm for over three years, I can see clearly that coming to McKinsey was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
|University of California, San Diego
||SB, Chemical engineering