What made you choose McKinsey?
Before joining McKinsey, I led a technology start-up, building software for energy-efficiency monitoring and optimization in data centers. I founded the company while studying computer-science engineering at Ghent University. After a couple of years working on very technical topics, I joined McKinsey to broaden my horizons. Although I expected a career at McKinsey would be challenging and push me far outside my comfort zone, I mainly joined because I really liked the people I met during interviews. To this day, working with this group of incredible colleagues is still the thing I like most about the job.
What new skills have you developed?
I joined as an experienced professional with expertise in IT and IT infrastructure. While I have certainly leveraged that knowledge, I am constantly learning and growing in new ways. For example, I have mastered the ability to structure problems, methodically work toward solutions, and clearly communicate results to senior management. These are enormously valuable skills at McKinsey and wherever else my professional career takes me.
How do you maintain a sensible work-life balance?
The first thing to do is define what work-life balance means, personally. During the week, for example, I make time every evening to go for a swim or a walk to clear my head. Second, make your teams aware of what is important to you, and push back when you’re not able to keep a sustainable balance. For instance, I was serving a client in another country that did not follow the same public holidays as we have in Belgium, and I had planned a long weekend with friends. I made my team aware of how important this was to me, and we worked around it to make it happen.
What are you most proud of?
I am by far most proud of the impact I can have on others. Being able to help support people and organizations in their success really makes this job worthwhile. Recently, I helped a private-equity firm in the due-diligence process to acquire an IT service provider. Our client was excited about the potential acquisition, but the investment board was skeptical as to the impact it could have as an investor. We helped our client define the future strategy for the company and build a case for the investment board. He ended up acquiring the company and got promoted 2 months later, based on his great work driving the acquisition.
On a nonclient front, I take great pride in my involvement in our recruiting program, mentoring candidates, interviewing people, and being involved in hiring decisions. It is the greatest confirmation of our recruiting program to see how candidates enjoy the interviewing journey and whether they become colleagues or not.