I started my career working at the largest market research company in India, but it wasn't until I moved over to the client side, working at Pepsi Co., that I really began to understand the power of consumer insights. While there my influence reached from something as small as the truck drivers delivering the soft drinks to a shop all the way up to the global brand strategy for Pepsi Co.
I came to McKinsey expecting to learn consulting skills, such as communication and presenting, and I have. But what amazes me is how I am consistently learning new skills in my functional area. Every year since I've joined McKinsey, I've learned something completely new and exciting about consumer insights.
I knew that working at McKinsey would bring variety, but I was honestly a little overwhelmed by the sheer pace of the activity. Previously, I'd been working in one country. Then I joined McKinsey, and quickly spent time in Korea and the U.S.; I was travelling all the time. At McKinsey, change was an everyday thing: everyday, I met new people, or worked in a new industry, or travelled to a new city.
I also saw that the standards were set at a totally different level. In my previous position, people had been very willing to see my analysis and accept my recommendations. At McKinsey, I found myself constantly being challenged. I realized this while I was working at a client in Korea, a publishing company. I presented my market research to the client, and while they were pleased with my recommendations, I quickly found out that I hadn't clearly explained the basis for those opinions. At McKinsey, I'm forced to back up all of my decisions -- if I use one set of numbers and not another, I have to say why, and if there's messy data in the market research, I can't choose to ignore it. While this was challenging, I also found it refreshing. I could immediately see the value of joining McKinsey, because I was constantly learning.
Studying People to create better business and social solutions
I was among the first to introduce observation based qualitative research to McKinsey, where I was really analyzing peoples' behavior by understanding their context better. It quickly became the focus of my client work. One of the things that I particular feel proud about in my McKinsey career was starting a patient behaviour change group in London that used consumer insights methods to gain an understanding of patients that helped design interventions that would help them become more healthy, e.g., by quitting smoking, eating healthily, or managing their diseases more proactively. I worked on a study for a government health service to make doctors and nurses more proactive about helping patients who give up their habit. By observing the doctors and nurses at work, and by observing the lives of the smokers themselves, I was able to identify the barriers that healthcare providers face when dealing with patients who smoke.
Too often, they feel that either the patients won't listen to them, or that, statistically, they have little chance of convincing people to quit smoking. They may even feel judgmental. But by observing the smokers, too, I was able to identify the different reasons why they smoke -- some lack will power, while others are simply risk averse -- and help the doctors and nurses target their approach more specifically. The insights were used to design portfolio of interventions that helped overcome the barriers that doctors and nurses faced, and helped them become more empathetic to the different types of patients. The doctors, nurses, and the executives were really pleased with the work we did, and it was a high point for me.
What I do in my free time
I do karate to stay fit, and I love to play jazz piano. I discovered fellow musicians, a sax player and a double bass player, in McKinsey’s London office and we formed a jazz trio. We have a music room in the office where we practice, and we have a Spring concert every year.
|University of Delhi
|St. Stephen's College - U of Delhi