– Hi everyone,
Writing this blog post is my last work item before I head off to meet my family for a long weekend. I just wrapped up a meeting with a client with an interesting history, which I’ll get to in a moment.
As I have written before, I am pursuing a 100% local program, based on clients here in Taiwan. My client base is fairly fragmented (in terms of industries), and many of the clients I am working with are smaller (meaning they may only do a project or two with us, rather than continuously engaging us), but I feel like I am making a positive impact on my home island of Taiwan. If I can help our local businesses improve their capabilities and performance, then by default I am helping our Taiwanese economy, which is a fulfilling way to think about work.
I mentioned above that my client base is fragmented across industries, which is the result of my focus on Taiwan only. Typically, Associate Partners and Partners at McKinsey have a couple of ongoing engagements, several proposals out for future engagements, and even more discussions with clients about potential future engagements. However, many of these activities will be at the same client—and if not at the same client, most will be in the same industry. This is not the case with me, so I find myself in discussions with over a dozen clients or potential clients in industries ranging from high tech to telecom to chemicals to insurance. It’s a great brain exercise to keep all of these companies and their different problems and goals straight!
In addition to staying on top of the situations at all of these companies, I’m also on a steep learning curve learning about many new industries. It is humbling and challenging to get up to speed in industries that you knew nothing about just a year or two ago. And of course I’m also staying in touch with what’s going on in my old Consumer and Retail practice “home.” Although life is a bit more complicated, it’s also very exciting, as I believe there is a lot of opportunity in focusing on Taiwan as a geography.
Right now I am involved in engagements in high tech, telecom, and chemicals (actually, two in chemicals!). Although I am trying to get up to speed on all of these different industries, I am also relying on the firm’s experts for help. The support that we have at McKinsey makes this local program possible, and I have a lot of gratitude to our leadership for allowing me to try this out—and I’m also grateful to the many people who have been willing to travel to Taiwan to meet with my new clients and lend their expertise.
In the beginning of this post I mentioned an interesting client situation. Here’s the story: We do get a lot of inquiries from smaller companies with big aspirations, and one such company—a chemicals company—came to us a year ago. I brought on some of our best experts to talk to them. Every time I thought they were close to starting an engagement, they wanted to have more discussions about our proposal. This went on until late fall, and then in November they decided against moving forward. I thought this was a shame, mainly because the company was losing money and I really thought we could help them turn things around. We wrote them a memo offering some questions they could pose to themselves in their quest to improve things. Two months later they had us come back in, and then we heard nothing for months. All of a sudden, in May of this year, they called and said their board had approved the project, and asked if we could start right away. Normally we can’t invest that much time in developing one client, but the firm supported me and the team, and I am happy that we were eventually able to kick things off with them, and I am confident we will have great impact!
Because I am doubling down on the chemicals industry in Taiwan, I am entering our “L2” program for GEM (Global Energy & Materials). Our L2 program is designed to build expertise in a particular function or industry through a combination of client experience, training, practice involvement, and mentorship. It is unusual for an AP to enter an L2 program—typically, Senior Associates and Engagement Managers pursue L2—but it makes sense for me given my shift from consumer to chemicals. I am excited about this and feel renewed. I am not the same person or the same consultant I was a few years ago, and am learning so much right now. As part of the L2 program I will be going to our new training center in the United States in September for our Advanced Learning Program focused on chemicals and agriculture.
We go to Boston every summer so that our children can spend quality time with their paternal grandparents. All told, this year the kids will spend four weeks in the US, which will be great for them and their English skills. My son Owen understands English but is shy in speaking it (though he is a chatterbox in Chinese). He is now at the age Olivia was when she blossomed into a fluent English speaker during her month in Boston. We are looking forward to the same magic happening with Owen!
Have a great summer,