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Inspiration and insights

– Angela, an associate in the London office, describes her McKinsey.

Angela inline

My McKinsey

My story may not be what you’d expect: I studied genetics in Glasgow as an undergraduate, then earned my PhD in cancer epigenetics at Imperial College London. I enjoyed science, but I got frustrated with the decline in funding available and the lack of future career opportunities. I wanted to put my problem solving and people skills to use somewhere less isolating than a cell culture lab. I applied to McKinsey and the rest is history.

Since I joined as a junior associate a year and a half ago, I’ve worked on engagements in a variety of industries including healthcare, pharma and the public sector.

More importantly, I love the people I’m working with and how passionately they seek to drive change for our clients. We’ve had a ton of fun together outside of the client work. One of my McKinsey highlights was participating in School of McKRock. Every year, the UK & Ireland offices put on a benefit to raise money for charity. This year, we had a rock concert. I played the drums for a few bands that competed in front of a crowd of ~750 people. I hadn’t drummed for about 10 years, and I’m buzzing again just thinking back to it.

What I’ve learned

I had a fairly specific view of leadership before I joined McKinsey. I thought that to be a leader, I had to be the main voice in the room – charismatic, extroverted and in control. I’ve discovered almost the opposite is true. Leadership is about listening, paying attention to the context in which you’re working, and helping your team mates do their best. This is what gets the most from the team, for your clients. I’ve also realised great leaders have many styles. I don’t have to be extroverted and direct to be a good leader.

I’ve also learned I can achieve a terrifyingly large amount when I’m given the opportunity to do so. I’ve been asked to work on topics I’ve never heard of. My team and the firm resources (like our graphics and analytic specialists) have helped me do it. At the beginning, I thought “there’s no way I can do that!” By the end, I said “wow, I can do more than I thought. A lot more.”

Paying it forward

I’m part a team organizing a new event for women (students and early-tenured professionals) in the UK and Ireland called Inspire. We’re creating an opportunity for intelligent, driven women to build their leadership skills and share insights with each other. As the name suggests, it’s about inspiring women to achieve as much as they want and showing them they can.