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Returning to work after maternity leave

– Hi everyone,

I can honestly say I am not the same person I was when I wrote my last blog entry. This is my first week back to work following six months of maternity leave. In August, my husband Chris and I welcomed a healthy baby boy named Connor. He is incredible, and the past six months have been a very special time for our family to bond and figure out how to function with more than just our dog depending on us. It has been an adventure and I cannot wait to see how the next few weeks play out as I reconnect to my colleagues and clients, all of whom I consider friends if not family.

Sometimes stepping back from a situation (in my case, McKinsey) gives us the opportunity to more effectively evaluate things. In my case, my original assumption was that McKinsey would be an impossible place to be a working mom. However, the more I live the reality of that situation, I truly think it is a great place for moms. The nature of the consulting model being project based enables a "clean break" from critical work; my colleagues are flexible, brilliant and eager to problem solve ways for me to work around constraints which creates a great deal of flexibility; and the people at McKinsey are truly a family and celebrate professional as well as personal accomplishments. This has played out in the following ways so far:

  1. Terrific maternity leave: When I ramped down for maternity leave, I was able to leave my trusted colleagues on point for my various projects and groups. I was not urgently pulled away or asked to do work at all during my maternity leave and I was the one who decided when to return to work. I joined a few calls to stay in the loop, and I had some hilarious (baby included) meals and drinks with my colleagues and a few of my clients, but they were at my discretion and I was able to focus solely on the transition of becoming a mom and figuring out how to keep a tiny human healthy and happy.
  2. Day-to-day flexibility: We work very hard at McKinsey, but there is a significant amount of flexibility I never fully realized before. Next week my son has a doctor's appointment I would like to take him to. I let my team know and we are working our meetings and my travel around that commitment. The firm takes advantage of flexible travel, video and teleconferencing, virtual team rooms, and a variety of other technological solutions to help us be more efficient and balance life. Before children, this helped me save time so I could work out every day or get home in time for a mid-week date with my husband, and now it lets me hold Connor's hand when he is at the doctor without having to jump through hoops or taking a day off.
  3. Supportive culture: Nearly all of the partners I work with at McKinsey have families that I have spent time with on multiple occasions. The culture here is to celebrate the whole person and never treat people in a transactional way. My colleagues know about my personal life without reminders and are sincere in their concern or affection. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I end up spending a lot of my free time with current or former McKinsey friends. Sometimes the "work-life balance" feels less difficult to manage when work and life are not independent of one another.
  4. Inspirational: I still get to help tackle the most challenging healthcare issues facing our country and our world on a daily basis with the most brilliant and driven teams and clients. I am one of the lucky moms who gets to have an amazing sense of inclusion and accomplishment at work and also at home. I am not saying this is going to be easy, but the energy my work gives me is something I would not feel complete without.

Every day is a new challenge, but I am optimistic that McKinsey is a wonderful place for moms and is the perfect place for the new me - the career mom version of my former self.

Meredith

About the blogger

Associate Partner

Meredith

Meredith began her McKinsey career as a Business Analyst after graduating from Dartmouth College and Thayer School of Engineering with a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering. She took an educational leave of absence to earn her MBA at Tuck and returned to our San Francisco office full-time in 2012. Now an Associate Partner, she mainly serves healthcare payor and provider clients, as well as various not-for-profit clients in global health. Outside of work, Meredith enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, snowboarding, cooking, hiking, golfing, and traveling.