As an aerospace engineer, I bring a different perspective to a problem when brainstorming with teams.
This contrasting viewpoint is a vital contribution. In fact, you will often hear people at McKinsey say that your background does not matter; what matters is that it is different from the backgrounds of your colleagues.
Of course, you will find many people with engineering degrees at McKinsey. There is a lot of value in the “softer side” of our training—the methodology and efficiency of how we approach problems. And an important component of our work requires strong analytical thinking, which an engineering background definitely provides.
McKinsey represents a great opportunity for engineers who wish to broaden their horizons. You can gain enriching experience working with people who have completely different backgrounds. And you are exposed to a whole new variety of challenges, with the ability to pursue your own career path reflecting your interests.
“Plug and play” team structure
A unique aspect of McKinsey is how the team comes together in a “plug and play” manner within a couple of days of starting a new project. Since teams include colleagues from all over the globe, with very different personalities and cultural backgrounds, it’s remarkable how fast the transition period is. Part of the reason is that each of us is taught and trained in the same way. However, the main success factor is the willingness of colleagues to adjust their working styles to accommodate and respect one another’s preferences.
Embracing the unfamiliar
One of the reasons I decided to join McKinsey was that I wanted to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. The aerospace industry felt comfortable to me, but McKinsey was a very different world. Here I knew I would work with unfamiliar industries, and after being at the firm for more than a year now, I have come to realize that I can not only cope with the unfamiliar but also am really beginning to like it.
A great example of this was a project I did for a pharmaceutical company. We created different scenarios about what the market for a new type of drug could look like in a few years. Ultimately, the goal was to help the client shape a strategy that could be adapted depending on how these scenarios played out. As a non-pharma specialist, I would often raise some “naive” points during problem-solving sessions, triggering an interesting discussion within a team made up of pharmaceutical specialists (for instance, medical doctors and pharmaceutical experts) and thus helping us to gain additional insights. We also made a few market projections to build upon the more qualitative discussion of different scenarios. This was a task where, as an engineer, I could get a model up and running within a relatively short time frame.
MS, mechanical engineering
BS, mechanical engineering