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A pro-bono project in Africa

– Hi everyone! Last time I wrote, I was getting ready for some travels to St. Petersburg and also to Italy. Upon returning from Italy, I signed on to do a really cool project.

Solar lamps in Rwanda

In Amsterdam we have an optional social impact program for six weeks over the summer. Since many clients are on vacation, consultants can choose to do a pro-bono engagement for this time period. I chose to do a project for a solar lamp company based in Rwanda. Seventy-five percent of Rwanda’s population doesn’t have electricity—they depend on kerosene lamps and the like. It’s quite an investment to buy a solar lamp, and my client wanted to sell their lamps on credit. My task was to assess how they could accomplish this.

Enjoying beautiful Florence, Italy

This engagement was completely different from any other McKinsey experience I’ve had for several reasons. First, it was a standalone role, which was a little scary at first because it was far away from home, but it ended up being a truly entrepreneurial opportunity for me. Secondly, the client didn’t have anywhere near the resources that many of our clients do, and with only eight employees, the environment really felt like a start-up. Third, the pace was quite different. The stakeholders in Rwanda always liked to meet in person instead of communicating via email or phone.

The work was very interesting, and I loved working with local Rwandans on a project that will have positive impact for so many citizens there. Since returning, I have been working on summarizing the project for a knowledge piece that will be added to our internal knowledge network.

An intense turnaround project

After that project was over I started my current engagement, which is in the mobility industry. They are looking to turn the company around and create more value. This has been a really interesting environment—a bit of a roller coaster actually—as the company is looking to undergo an organizational overhaul.

Tracking gorillas in Rwanda

We have been looking at the value chain of the company to figure out where we can create value, and we have a large meeting coming up where we will present our findings. This work has been intense but very satisfactory for me. I had a lot of responsibility on the team and grew enormously from the experience. When I started at McKinsey, fresh from university, I never imagined being able to work like this. This engagement—my last one at McKinsey for a while—was an opportunity for me to reflect on my growth and my McKinsey journey.

Wrapping up my time at McKinsey

I will be finalizing my Fellow journey at McKinsey at the end of the calendar year. Before leaving, I’m looking forward to some time off in December, which I will spend in Argentina. In January I will join a start-up for a year or so. I’ve decided to postpone my decision whether to a apply for business school for another year, as I want to have one more professional experience in addition to McKinsey so that I can decide what I want to concentrate on if I’ll apply for business school.

My next company, the start-up, is a “disruptor” in the flower industry. I’m very excited about this role—I will get to execute things instead of being in the advisory role. This will be somewhat similar to my experience on the entrepreneurial Rwanda project. The new company has a good amount of funding and is growing quickly, so I am looking forward to a really exciting year ahead.

A fun team event in Barcelona

This concludes my McKinsey blog for the time being. I’ve enjoyed sharing my updates with you, and I will be back either after my secondment year or after business school, so keep following the blog for updates!

Take care,
Laurien

About the blogger

Laurien
Fellow

Laurien

Laurien joined our Amsterdam office after completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering and management from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. In her first year as a consultant, she worked in numerous industries including banking, oil and gas, and media, and achieved her wish to travel and work in foreign countries by spending significant time in Australia and West Africa. She’s looking forward to another year at McKinsey before she pursues her MBA.