– When McKinsey became a HeForShe 10x10x10 Impact Champion, a business analyst in our New Jersey office took the opportunity to spend a year with UN Women. Lauren helped launch and build the HeForShe program, taking it from infancy to an established organization fostering social change. In a recent interview, she shared her most memorable experiences, describing what she learned during her externship:
Interviewer: Why did you decide to take a secondment with UN Women?
Lauren: At the time, I was a third year business analyst, completing a fellowship with our Social Sector practice. I loved my role; it gave me an opportunity to focus exclusively on global public health work, which is something I wanted to do since I joined McKinsey. I was ready to try something new and happened to be in the right place at the right time. My professional development manager reached out to me with the opportunity at UN Women. Things moved very quickly and I was on the ground at HeForShe in less than two weeks. I was really grateful to have an opportunity to explore without leaving the firm. Both my home office and the Social Sector practice were incredibly supportive.
Interviewer: Tell us about your involvement with HeForShe.
Lauren: I joined HeForShe a few weeks after a program called IMPACT 10x10x10 was announced. Ten companies, including McKinsey, ten universities, and ten heads of state from around the world joined to champion gender equality and committed to tangible change at their institutions. I led and managed the program through its first year, taking it from a great idea in its infancy to an established organization. I helped develop the program's strategy, onboard the full cohort of partners, and publish our first report for the World Economic Forum in Davos this year (learn more about McKinsey’s participation in Davos here). It was an incredible opportunity to build something. It's a cliche, but the experience was life-changing for me.
Interviewer: What was your most memorable experience from your secondment?
Lauren: A few weeks after starting at UN Women, I found myself speaking on a panel in Copenhagen about using social media to engender social change. I remember thinking such an activity would be out of the ordinary, but it turned out be pretty indicative of the wild year ahead. As someone who had a serious fear of public speaking, this was a real challenge and a high point for me.
Interviewer: What was your biggest takeaway from the secondment experience?
Lauren: That's a really tough question. I joined McKinsey as a business analyst, right after college. It was my first real work experience. I grew up at McKinsey and it’s a huge part of who I am personally and professionally. I learned a lot about my strengths and passions with amazing people who supported me at every step. It was such a great start to my career.
There were a lot of things about McKinsey that I didn’t appreciate until I spent some time away. McKinsey and UN Women are both full of talented, passionate people; they’re cultures are very different, though. Looking at McKinsey from the outside helped me understand how and why it works the way it does.
On a personal level, there were a lot of skills I learned at McKinsey that I hadn't tested in the “real world” until my secondment. Without the formal structure of a team, I had to make bigger decisions and trust my instinct in a way I never had before.
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