A unique combination
As a student, I had never really thought of myself as a future consultant. I studied economics and history and thought I wanted to become a diplomat. But when I started having conversations with people about McKinsey, I realized I really wanted to become part of that community. The opportunities that you get from the beginning are tremendous—they range from working in all kinds of industries, functions, and geographies to working with highly driven, intelligent and passionate people to making your mark on society.
Many different opportunities for growth
After a little more than 2 years with the firm, it is difficult to track back all the interesting moments I have had, the inspiring people I have worked with, and the amazing parts of the world I have seen—simply because there have been so many. I have definitely grown personally as much as I have professionally. The diverse experiences range from facilitating a workshop about presentation and communication skills with ten important clients in the room to solving a critical issue in a client's jet while navigating through thunderstorms over Nigeria! One of my project leaders once said, “It is only pressure that turns rocks into diamonds.” I guess he was right.
As a consultant, you are quite often working in the shadows, behind the scenes, supporting clients in their efforts to deliver. You often develop a strong personal and professional relationship with people who show you their strengths and passions as well as, their doubts and weaknesses. If you do well, you will be able to build a very deep relationship in a relatively short period. I established a particularly good relationship with a former client, who is no longer in the position he was in when I worked with him; I like to think that I contributed in some small way to how he thought about his career choices. For me, that was a true illustration of the kind of influence you can potentially have in someone’s life. By building deep relationships, you build trust, which can become meaningful to the people you work with well beyond your project assignments.
The Amsterdam office has a remarkable group of diverse people. Contrary to what you may expect, it is not only engineers or economists who have the same background and interests. The sheer diversity that the office brings with respect to nationalities, cultures, and educational and professional backgrounds and interests has helped me to grow personally and professionally.
Collaboration and honesty
From the start at McKinsey, you are encouraged to share your story and vision when solving clients’ problems, which makes working together a very collaborative and rewarding exercise. It is great fun and inspiring to work in a team of like-minded people. Every so often you are reminded of your “obligation to dissent,” meaning that you have to raise your hand if you feel a matter has not been addressed well or completely enough—even if that means disagreeing with people much more senior than you.
University of Utrecht
University of Utrecht