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A day in the McK life: Brandi


– Brandi, an associate with our Operations Practice in Chicago, loves the variety of work at McKinsey. She graduated a civil engineer from Rice University, and started her career at ExxonMobil. After about four years, she went to HBS and then came to McKinsey. Since she joined almost two years ago, she’s worked with aerospace and defense, basic materials, and transportation clients. While no two days are ever really the same, here she shares some consistent activities:

6:45am: My alarm goes off – ideally at the same time room service is knocking on my door with breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day and I NEVER miss it. Often I’ll briefly check in on the national news while I’m eating. This is the life.

7:30am: I leave for the client site. Some days, my colleagues ride with me and we always aim to have non-work-related conversations; otherwise, I listen to NPR, my favorite station.

8:00am: I check-in with my team. We go over objectives for the day and review calendars. It is so helpful to know what everyone else is working on and when they are available.

8:30am: I finalize documents for team problem-solving sessions or client meetings later in the day. I usually grab one of my teammates to look through this with me to make sure I’m thinking about the problem holistically; it always helps to have a different perspective and second pair of eyes.

9:30am: I meet with my clients to discuss particular pieces of the problem or solution. We’re a team. We both ask each other a lot of questions. I share my recommendations, formulated from analyses, previous conversations with clients, and our McKinsey experts; my clients share their insights from the industry and organization. We all learn something new.

11:30am: Lunch time. Typically, one person retrieves food from a local restaurant and brings it back for us. Usually, we work through lunch; sometimes we’ll take a break or, on special occasions (like birthdays) we’ll go out.

12:30pm: The afternoon varies widely for me from day to day. Some of the things that usually occupy my time are:

Talking with our McKinsey leadership. I come prepared with specific objectives, topics to discuss, and decisions needed. I let them know how they can be most helpful.

Going to gemba, the Japanese word for where the work gets done. I may visit the plant floor to better understand the processes we’re trying to improve or interview a client.

Learning from firm experts: we’re lucky to have so many experts in just about every topic. I come to them with specific requests as frequently as possible to make sure I’m bringing the best knowledge and expertise to our clients.

Analyzing client data: it’s best for me to do this as early in the afternoon as possible, while my brain is still alert. Sometimes, I find a quiet place to work or I use my headphones so I can focus.

6:00pm: Our team meets again to measure our progress against our objectives and identify anything critical that has to get done in the evening. We keep this to 15 min typically.

6:15pm: We travel back to the hotel.

7:00pm: I get in a work out or unwind with a TV show.

8:00pm: I call my husband, family or friends.

8:30pm: I finish any work that has to be done and plan for tomorrow.

11:00pm: off to sleep.