“My business analyst experience was phenomenal and I am still in touch with members of my class.”
I worked as a summer business analyst in the New York office in 1994. I got an offer immediately after that. Since I loved my summer experience it was an easy decision to return full-time. The only question was: where would I work?
It was enormously helpful that McKinsey is a borderless organization. My parents lived in Nigeria and my sisters and I lived in different parts of the United States. So, we decided that we would move to wherever my older sister got into a PhD program. She was accepted at Northwestern, and so I applied for a transfer of my offer to McKinsey's Chicago office and joined there as a business analyst in 1995.
When people say you can make your own McKinsey, I can confirm it's incredibly real. That spirit pushed me to seek diverse experiences, including spending four months in South Africa in 1997 where I worked with a non-profit focused on reducing crime. My team was specifically focused upon improving the effectiveness of the police force. I traveled across South Africa, visiting police stations and meeting and working with individuals from all walks of life. This experience enabled me to build my confidence and convictions.
My passion was and is to promote entrepreneurship and leadership development in Africa. In 2000, I accepted an offer to establish the FATE Foundation—an organization committed to developing local entrepreneurship—and lead it as pioneer executive director.
That's a lot of responsibility for a 25 year old. I had minimal managerial experience so at FATE I had to learn to manage a diverse team. The critical problem solving, communications and research skills I gained while at McKinsey were invaluable.
I also learned that my McKinsey experience wasn't always applicable. I expected the staff to operate at the level of my McKinsey colleagues, and pushed them to deliver. That wasn't fair. I quickly learned my team didn't have the training, experience or self-motivation I was used to. So I re-focused on building their capacity and commitment. It was really gratifying to watch them grow.
I tell everyone who can get a job with McKinsey to take it. My business analyst experience was phenomenal and I am still in touch with members of my class. My brother and best friend have gone on to work at McKinsey. They both had amazing experiences.
At 28, Ndidi established Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability & Professionalism (LEAP) Africa. This leadership development organization has worked in 26 states across Nigeria, providing leadership training and coaching to more than 30,000 people. They include entrepreneurs, teachers and young people—the human infrastructure of the future.
Ndidi was recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and received a National Honor – Member of the Federal Republic from the Nigerian Government. In 2011, she was listed as one of the 20 Youngest Power African Women by Forbes. In 2013, she was honored by the Global Fund for Women during their 25th Anniversary Celebration in San Francisco. She serves on numerous international and local boards including Nestle Nigeria, Cornerstone Insurance, Nigerian Breweries Plc. and USAID's Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid.
Harvard Business School
University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School
Women at McKinsey
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