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McKinsey Q&A: Jane

– Meet Jane, an engagement manager with our Marketing & Sales practice in San Francisco. She worked as a brand manager before earning her MBA and coming to McKinsey. She’s done amazing client work, including running workshops to rapidly prototype designs with colleagues in McKinsey Digital Labs. Outside of her client work, she’s an active member of McKinsey Women, a trapeze artist, and the mom of a seven-month-old daughter.

Jane

Interviewer: Why did you apply to McKinsey?

Jane: I worked as a brand manager for a global food company before I joined the firm. We hired McKinsey to work on some of the most interesting questions, such as how global health and wellness trends should shape our company’s strategy. The McKinsey team debated ideas and shared their findings with such energy and vigor. I wanted to be part of that process more routinely.

Interviewer: Why did you join M&S specifically?

Jane: I’m passionate about consumer marketing and knew I wanted to stay in the space when I joined McKinsey. It’s the perfect mix of right-brained creativity and left-brained analysis. I really enjoy having a community of Marketing & Sales practice members within San Francisco and around the world with whom I can share my excitement about this function.

Interviewer: What keeps you here?

Jane: I stay because of how much people care about each other. No matter how busy or pressed my colleagues are, they always make time to give me their advice, create opportunities for me, and teach me new things. When I went on maternity leave earlier than planned, my teammates – including the McKinsey partner and my clients – were so understanding and supportive. They took it all in stride and assumed some of my responsibilities, putting me (and my daughter) first.

The other thing that has kept me here is the speed at which I’m growing. McKinsey people are very open to feedback and willing to take on new challenges. I’ve approached my experience here with the same attitude and have learned so much in the process, especially around how to inspire others and how to use data to make informed marketing decisions. I love coaching other people, too. It’s so rewarding to watch someone who struggled with a problem or skill (like public speaking) at the beginning of a project present his or her ideas and solutions confidently in the final meeting with the CEO.

Interviewer: What has been your most exciting engagement?

Jane: A major online retailer asked us to test a new design for a key piece of their offering with their customers. Over the course of six weeks, we worked together to plan and execute ‘design-a-thon’ workshops with more than 100 consumers in the US, UK and Hong Kong. During each session, we would listen to the customers’ perspectives; then our designers from McKinsey Digital Labs would make their visions come to life literally overnight so we could present a new design to the company’s CEO the next day.

Interviewer: What have you been involved with outside of client work?

Jane: I’m part of the Women’s Initiative in San Francisco. We work to make sure McKinsey is a great place for all people – women and men. Last fall, we held a dinner series at our female partners’ houses to get to know each other on a more personal level. We conducted an unconscious bias workshop in the office; it was really illuminating to realize the biases we all have about different people and what it takes to overcome these stereotypes.

Interviewer: What advice would you give to others considering joining McK?

Jane: Let your curiosity guide you. Share with us what excites you – you might find McKinsey is the perfect place to pursue your passion. Approach the interview process like an adventure – you might have a lot of fun.

Interviewer: What are you passionate about outside of work?

Jane: I have a seven-month-old daughter who’s so much fun to be around. She learns something new every day. I work 80% right now so I can spend more time with her. I’m a circus performer in my spare time; I specialize in aerial fabrics and trapeze. Hanging 20 feet in the air certainly gets my mind off of everything else for a few hours.