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McKinsey Q&A: Anna

Anna

– Meet Anna, a consultant based in Copenhagen. Anna joined McKinsey after completing her PhD and a research fellowship. Her background in neuroscience has proven more helpful at McKinsey than you might guess. Especially, if you’re working towards an advanced degree and considering a career outside of academia or research, you won’t want to miss Anna’s advice and perspective.

Interviewer: Tell us about your background.

Anna: I am a biologist with a PhD in neuroscience. I am fascinated by the brain and how biological and chemical factors affect it. After graduating from the University of Copenhagen, I received a PhD fellowship to research in Denmark and the U.S., where I focused on mental disorders like schizophrenia.

Interviewer: Why did you make the switch to consulting?

Anna: I wanted to explore other career options and heard McKinsey hired people without business backgrounds. I really enjoyed research, but didn’t want to stay academia or become a laboratory specialist. I saw McKinsey as an interesting opportunity to develop new skills and have more immediate impact, while leveraging my knowledge in biology and pharmacology.

Interviewer: How have you used your background at McKinsey?

Anna: For some projects, my knowledge in life science has been an asset. For others, I’ve relied on the skills I acquired as a PhD student, such as structuring problem solving, taking a hypothesis-driven approach, and communicating complicated material to non-specialists. In general, when I work on an engagement I go through the same steps I would for any research project: I collect information about best practices, gather and analyze data, and synthesize and communicate the results.

Interviewer: What is your favorite thing about McK?

Anna: I value our supportive culture – it affects my social and work mentality. I’m acknowledged for my strengths and receive support to learn and develop new skills. When I joined I was surprised how quickly I was given responsibility. Having access to the firm’s knowledge and experts and a team member always close by helps me feel confident.

Interviewer: What advice would you give to others considering McKinsey?

Anna: It might seem obvious: simply apply. I often meet people who have been thinking about it for a long time and are reluctant to apply due to concerns about the interview process: “what if I don’t understand the terminology? What if I don’t get the case?” My interviewers were extremely helpful and gracious. It’s perfectly fine to ask lots of questions during the process and you won’t know what it’s like until you try it.