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Rejoining McKinsey after four years away

With my sister and college girlfriends (all Africans, but currently living in Beijing, Seattle, Nairobi) on a recent trip to China.

– Hello everyone! I'm excited to be re-joining the team of McKinsey Women bloggers. I left the firm in June 2013 after a whirlwind three years at McKinsey: a summer internship in 2009, two years as a business analyst in Minneapolis, and a third year in the Lagos office that changed my (McKinsey) life. During that time, I was challenged to deliver answers that were 2x 'better' than average—because the answer would get knocked so hard by the realities of implementation, it had to be robust enough to survive. I was empowered to be resourceful—"no" is never an answer in Lagos. If someone tells you no, you are asking the wrong question. I was surrounded by the hustle everywhere...guys asking for my number were pitching me their business ideas. That year of running around in the "Wild Wild West" of Africa remains the most exhilarating year of my McKinsey life to date.

When I left McKinsey, I spent three years at graduate school pursuing an MBA at HBS, and a Masters in Public Administration with a focus on International Development (basically, a Master's in Economics) at the Harvard Kennedy School. I focused my time at Harvard on meeting incredible people, eating lots of great food accompanied by delicious beats courtesy of my peers from all around the world, and ideating hard on private sector growth as a catalyst for building institutions for governance in Africa. I was 100% sure after graduation that I was coming back home to Kenya after 12 years away (I did my IBs in England and undergrad at Yale before joining McKinsey).

With my bestie Teresa on the Kenyan coast (my favorite place in the world). I'm holding the food

I wasn't sure I wanted to come back to McKinsey—I spent my summers working with the Ministry of Infrastructure in Rwanda, the African Leadership Network across West Africa ("The Davos of Africa"), and an Africa focused Investment Advisory firm in Nairobi—and could see myself pursuing post-graduation opportunities with any of them. I tried (and failed) to get an agri-business start-up off the ground. I took six months off after graduation to lecture economics at a university in Kenya, and dedicate time to writing a biography of my incredible father (more here).

Pure joy after handing in my thesis

I ultimately came back because after a lot of soul-searching and job interviews, I decided that the McKinsey platform in Africa is unrivalled as a place to meet key decision makers in the public and private sectors, while building a reputation for doing impactful work. I have aspirations to enter public life in Kenya once I find my sea-legs, but I have a lot to learn before such an adventure. McKinsey is a great place to have lots of learning expeditions. Since being back, the firm has not disappointed. Its been eight months and I've worked in Kenya, South Africa, and Ethiopia on three very different projects:

—Did the commercial due diligence for one of the biggest private equity deals in East Africa this year
—Acted as the junior engagement manager on a recovery & transformation project for the retail and business banking division of one of the top banks in South Africa
—I'm currently the engagement manager of a multi-year tax transformation, one of the highest priority projects for the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. We meet with him monthly. Someone pinch me!

I'm looking forward to keeping you updated on my life!
Amandla


ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Associate

Amandla

Amandla originally joined the firm as a summer business analyst in Minneapolis. She spent her third BA year in Lagos before departing to earn her MBA/MPA at Harvard University. She recently returned to her home country and re-joined us in our Nairobi office, where she works on an exciting mix of private and public sector projects.