– McKinsey’s annual Destination EMEA events are approaching quickly. If you’re a first–year MBA student attending school in New York, Boston or Chicago and you’re interested in a career in management consulting in EMEA, please sign up to join us at one of these events in mid–October to learn more about our work and meet our colleagues from EMEA, like Sarah, an associate based in our London office. For more details and to sign up by 7 Oct 2016 please visit our website.
Interviewer: What brought you to McKinsey?
Sarah: I joined McKinsey after completing my MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Before that, I’d spent nearly five years in economic consulting in Washington, D.C. I loved the work I was been doing before school – heavy analytic work for clients facing allegations of market manipulation in the financial services and energy industries. I decided to get my MBA as a springboard to more international work and broaden my functional perspective, supporting clients across their businesses instead of only in litigation. McKinsey’s London office followed as a natural next step on that learning journey.
Interviewer: Tell us about your most memorable engagement.
Sarah: It seems I am always most excited about my current engagement. In this project, I’m bringing advanced analytics to the way my media client thinks about promotions. With an outstanding team of data scientists, we’re developing new ways to apply machine learning techniques in this context. Even though it’s early, we are already shaping the way our clients think about their people and systems, helping them prepare for the next wave of personalisation in pricing.
This is the first time I’m acting as a full–fledged engagement manager. I’m really enjoying the challenge and find coaching my team gives me lots of energy. At McKinsey, I’m always challenged to try something new as soon as I’m ready for it; it is core to our apprenticeship model and keeps me learning and growing. I’ve also been blown away by the support my team has given me; everyone from the senior partner to the associates and business analysts has shared advice and encouragement.
Interviewer: Tell us more about the mentorship you’ve received at McKinsey.
Sarah: There’s a phrase you’ll hear around the firm: “Make your own McKinsey.” For me, this has been a lot about finding my home in the London office. London is one of our largest offices. It provides a huge amount of opportunity, energy, and diversity. As an introvert, I worried I would get lost in a sea of faces. Now that I’ve been here a year, I can safely say my fear was unfounded.
I have found my home in our high tech, media, and telecom (TMT) practice. I didn’t have a background or even an interest in this industry when I joined. However, I met three people who quickly became my mentors that all happened to work in TMT. First, there was the associate partner who I credit (or blame!) for bringing me to the firm and is now one of my primary sponsors. Then there was a partner who I am convinced became my formal advisor because I beat him in a sailing race. And there was an associate who taught me the ways of the firm during my 10 week summer internship. I found the work these characters did very interesting. Before I knew it, I had found a challenging, supportive, energizing community within the firm.
Today, I go to these mentors, and others, with questions about content on engagements, staffing, and life in general. This kind of active sponsorship is a cornerstone of our culture and one of the things that makes McKinsey so special.
Interviewer: What’s your best piece of advice for someone considering applying to McKinsey?
Sarah: Figure out what you want to get out of the firm. McKinsey encompasses a huge variety of things. Having a vision for what that could mean for you, even if you change it along the way, will help you connect in your interviews and give you a head start in making your own McKinsey.
Interview: What are you passionate about outside of work?
Sarah: I spend as much free time outside as possible. Given that I live in England, it’s a good thing I don’t mind rain! I’m slowly bringing my husband on board with the virtues of the natural world. We go on a ~15 mile walk in the country every Sunday and this summer we spent our holiday hiking in the north of Scotland. My latest achievement is convincing him to buy a tent. Wish me luck!