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Leadership lessons

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– We recently sat down with Charlie, Simi, and Kevin, business analysts in our London and Dublin offices, to explore the lessons in leadership they’ve learned at McKinsey.

Interviewer: You all joined McKinsey after university. What attracted you to the firm?

Kevin: I liked the idea of trying a huge range of different things and learning a broad set of skills.

Charlie: Yes, me too. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after uni. I’ve always liked solving problems and developing clear solutions instead of constant discussion and churn. It feels good to set and achieve targets. McKinsey offered me an opportunity to work with driven people (both clients and colleagues) who wanted answers and provided the support and network I needed to develop and learn.

Simi: I wanted a lot of breadth in my job. As a business analyst, each study is different so I stay on my toes and continuously learn new information and new skills. I love it.

I was keen to surround myself with great people and I’ve definitely done that here. McKinsey is very team-oriented; from my very first day, I’ve appreciated that I’m an important part of my team and that my opinion and analysis is valued.

Interviewer: What does leadership mean to you?

Charlie: For me, leadership is about inspiring and enabling a team to perform to the best of its ability. Inspirational leaders make me want to be at the top of my game at all times.

Kevin: Guidance and support. Great leaders provide guidance and support to those they lead to ensure they move forward in the right direction.

Simi: Responsibility, motivation and coaching. Leaders with these skills have profoundly affected my life and the way I work. I’ve only been at McKinsey a few months but I have already received great coaching.

Interviewer: How does leadership fit into your McKinsey experience?

Kevin: Leadership is a big part of my experience at McKinsey. Many people have gone out of their way to give me guidance and support – whether or not they’ve been part of my project teams.

Charlie: It has become a big driver of my staffing priorities. If I know leaders I trust and admire are starting a new engagement, I request that team so I have another opportunity to learn from them. I used to think content knowledge and technical skills were the most important things for me, but recently, I’ve focused much more on my leadership style and how I can enable people around me to perform at their best.

I recently joined a team organizing a new women’s leadership programme called Inspire. I’m starting to put some of the leadership skills I’ve learned to practice as we prepare to help women students and early-tenured professionals think about their leadership strengths and styles and develop their skills.

Interviewer: What advice would you share with people considering applying to Inspire or McKinsey in general?

Simi: Think about what leadership means to you and what you might gain from spending time with like-minded peers.

Kevin: Understand what you bring to the table and don’t be afraid to be proud of it. You have something interesting to offer and that is what McKinsey looks for.

Charlie: Don’t worry about whether you’ve done a case study or thought about consulting as a career. Talk about the experiences that distinguish you, even if they’re not consulting-related.