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How McKinsey taught me to bring my whole self to work

– I applied to McKinsey right after completing my undergraduate degree in economics at Harvard. I joined in 2010 as a business analyst in our Bogota office. I spent the next couple of years working on projects across Latin America, in Chile, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, and of course, Colombia. I loved traveling and exploring different industries. One of my most memorable projects was working for one of Jamaica’s largest banks. I got to work in one of the most beautiful destinations in the world while leading a team of five clients to improve the bank’s internal credit processes. At 24 years old I was part of the decision-making body, chaired by the CEO. This project was one of many that gave me a steep learning curve with exposure to senior leaders and supported by their apprenticeship.

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Over time as an analyst, I developed a passion for retail and fashion. Sponsored by McKinsey, I temporarily left the firm to get my MBA from London Business School with a focus on luxury management. During my education leave, I pursued projects and internships with Estée Lauder, Harrods, and The Business of Fashion (started by McK alumnus Imran Amed) to gain in-depth industry knowledge. After completing my studies, I rejoined the firm, this time in London, and as a specialist in apparel, fashion and luxury clients.

One of the big reasons I rejoined the firm post-MBA was mentorship. It is ingrained in McKinsey’s values and processes, and I’ve found three key sources of it here. First, my professional development manager ensures I’m working on projects aligned to my career goals and industry focus. Second, my engagement teams have helped me form very close relationships with engagement managers and partners. During each project, they have been instrumental in helping me identify and develop my skills and strengths.

Third, the GLAM network (our global LGBTQ group at McKinsey) has introduced me to some of my closest friends and sponsors. GLAM was founded more than 20 years ago—one of the first professional networks of its kind—to promote diversity and inclusion at the firm. Since then it has grown to our largest affinity group, comprised of LGBTQ colleagues and straight allies. GLAM hosts many events to foster connectivity, celebrate our diversity, and provide professional development opportunities. My fellow GLAMmies have helped me navigate some uncomfortable situations, particularly in some of the more conservative countries in which I’ve worked, and guided me as I’ve made important decisions throughout my career, including whether and where to pursue an MBA.

Working at McKinsey has taught me that regardless of what country, industry or function in which I work, I will have the most impact by being myself and building authentic relationships with my teams and my clients. Particularly as an open member of GLAM, McKinsey has taught me how to balance my personal and professional life without sacrificing either. I’ve always been encouraged me to carve my own path and fully pursue my passions.

I encourage everyone to consider a career with McKinsey. If you’re a current undergraduate, masters PhD or business school student in Western Europe, check out our new LGBTQ Leadership Award that recognizes leaders (LGBTQ and allies) who have made a difference in the LGBTQ community. Applications are due by 20 Oct. 2016. If you apply, be sure to highlight your leadership skills and experience and your motivations for making a difference in the LGBTQ community.