– Happy new year, everyone! It's been a busy few months and I am loving life!
Big news—double big news
Last month, Emily and I became the parents of our twin children, Clara and Jack. We have always wanted children, and been trying on and off for the past year. In Chinese culture, having boy-girl twins is known as dragon-phoenix twins, and considered to be especially lucky. It's pretty amazing to walk into a hospital as Emily and Ginny, and leave as a *family*. We went from two to four overnight, and the enormity of the change hasn't fully settled in yet. Even if I'm slow in totally grasping how big a change this will be in our lives, Emily and I feel so blessed to have them in our lives. And I'm looking forward to the day when they join the firm—as a welcome home gift, the Philadelphia office sent official "McKinsey 2035" bibs.
Going through the process of getting pregnant while working on travel studies was challenging, but on the whole, my teams and clients were wonderfully supportive. During my second trimester, my doctors encouraged me to travel less. Since my last engagement was very heavy on travel, including regular international flights, I was at a crossroads. While I was excited about the team, clients, and the work, I was worried about my health. Twin pregnancies are typically complicated, and mine had a couple of additional wrinkles.
After discussions with my mentors at the firm, I made the difficult decision to step away from the project. Fortunately, the junior engagement manager was more than ready to step into the role. And so, thanks to my mentors and my team, I was able to make the best decision I could for the twins.
On the recruiting trail
While I was glad to scale back on the international travel, I wasn't ready to go on maternity leave quite yet. My doctors actually discouraged bed rest—they told me that local travel was fine as long as I was travelling short distances and the local hospitals had intensive care units for newborns, in case there were any issues. I wasn't sure I could find anything that fit the bill. I had visions of binge watching television for three months, while slowly going mad on the couch.
Fortunately, I was able to find an internal role as the GLAM (Gays & Lesbians at McKinsey) "staffed ambassador." I spent my time on the recruiting trail, encouraging candidates to apply and helping them prepare for interviews. I was able to pretty much limit my travel to the East Coast, most of it by train or car, except for a couple of quick trips to Chicago. Being able to set my own hours and limit my travel was exactly what the doctor ordered. Just to be safe, I did travel with a Tyvek envelope stuffed with my latest medical records, insurance information, and a listing of the best hospitals for neonatal care on the East Coast. And I'm so glad that the firm was able to make this happen. I'm convinced our twins turned out healthy and happy because I made that choice, and I have no regrets.
This ambassador role was a ton of fun—and something I'd recommend to everyone at the firm. If you’re loving McKinsey, this is a wonderful moment to let your "true blue" (our McKinsey color!) shine and recruit the next generation of the firm. If you’re feeling burned out, this is a wonderful moment to step back and reflect honestly on what you love (and don’t love) about the firm—many find it rejuvenating.
I loved being able to reconnect with many of my colleagues from other offices at campus events. And I loved meeting students and hearing what was on their minds. I was actually surprised and touched by how many of them asked me about what it was like to be out at work. I've always been out to my clients, my teams, and my office. It made me realize what a rarefied and welcoming world McKinsey is, as that question hasn't really come up since I've been at the firm. Even after the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage, it made me realize that the legal change has happened, but the cultural change hasn't happened yet. As I reflect back on the different factors that led me here, it is just one more reminder of how fortunate I have been to work at McKinsey.
Other events this fall
This October, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Philadelphia office, including a visit from special guests Judith Hazelwood (managing partner of the Mid-Atlantic Office, including New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia), and our global managing director Dominic Barton. I was on the planning committee with a crack team of fellow Philly folks—and we showed everyone how we celebrate Philadelphia-style. We started with a morning run along the Schuylkill river with Dom, had cheesesteaks for lunch, and created a time capsule for our next Philadelphia office birthday.
To celebrate 20 years of GLAM, Emily and I invited Malcolm Lazin, executive director of the Equality Forum, in to speak at lunch. Malcolm spoke movingly about the history of workplace discrimination and the next frontier of LGBTQ issues. We had a great discussion in the office about where we stand as a firm, and what else we can do. Henry Ritchie, one of the partners in Philadelphia, spoke about his own call to action moment as a GLAM "Ally" when he was working in Brazil. This event rejuvenated the Allies program in Philadelphia, and kicked off some new events for next year.
Finally, in November, I served as faculty for EWP (Engaging with Presence). This is one of the firm's core trainings for women. This one took place over two days in Long Island, and is intended to give early tenure women in the firm an opportunity to reflect on and develop their leadership style. This is a powerful workshop built around the Centered Leadership project led by Joanna Barsh. I loved being able to connect with other women and talk through issues we had all faced, e.g., being the only woman in the room. Plus, like all trainings, it was a great opportunity to make new friends and reconnect with old friends.
After I wrapped up my stint as GLAM staffed ambassador, I went on maternity leave. And not a second too soon: I ended up giving birth about a week earlier that expected. While I'm at home enjoying the twins, I've started to think about what's next.
I've spoken with many McKinsey women about their own paths while having children at the firm. Many told me that McKinsey is about the best place to have kids, because of the flexibility the firm gives us, to take time and pace our careers. At the same time, the travel and client services industry can be demanding, which is another factor to weigh. Emily and I have the complication (or advantage), of being a double McKinsey couple. We've been having lots of conversation on where we'd like to raise the twins, where we want to live, and what we'd like the next few years to look like. We don't have the answers yet, but we're off to a good start with a list of questions. I have a few more months of maternity leave for us to sort it all out, so I'm feeling good about 2016.