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A day in the McK life: Fan

– Fan, an associate with our Corporate Finance practice in Hong Kong, joined McKinsey after several years in investment banking. Here, she describes a day when the supportive nature of our firm helped her to achieve significant impact with clients.


6:45am: my alarm goes off. I take a few minutes to flip through my email, calendar, etc. I’ve already memorized the day’s itinerary because I’m excited. I recently joined a new engagement team and will meet the core clients today. We’re supporting a financial institution in the U.S.

This is my first international engagement with the firm. My husband recently got a great short-term job in Washington D.C. and McKinsey supported us by creating an opportunity for me to work with a client in the area so we could go to the U.S. together.

7:30am: I meet my engagement manager for breakfast at the hotel restaurant. It’s a nice opportunity for us to get to know each other a bit before diving in. We talk about our working style preferences (e.g., I need a little time to think alone before problem solving as a team and I love exploring new restaurants for lunch when possible) and establish some norms; since it’s just the two of us, we have a lot of flexibility and control.

We also talk about the client situation at hand, reviewing the problem we’ve been asked to address, the key stakeholders and the culture of the organization. My manager encourages me to think through how I want to introduce myself to our clients today. He coaches me through how to position my background in investment banking.

9:00am: We arrive at the client site and prepare for the day’s meetings. We have been asked to help craft the institution’s growth strategy following the acquisition of a faster–growing company. I review the client’s most recent financial statements and some of the data they’ve shared about their new acquisition.

10:30am: Time to meet with our clients. My manager introduces me and I describe my previous experience in corporate finance, just as we practiced earlier. The clients seem pleased and willing to listen to my perspective, which is humbling. I’m glad we took the time to practice this morning.

As we start to discuss what success will look like for this engagement, the clients ask about the market share growth their institution can expect going forward and tensions start to rise a bit. The CEO wants to set an aggressive target for the company’s valuation, but the CFO wants to set more conservative expectations so he questions some of the cost of capital projections. I ask some probing questions about their assumptions and share some examples of the growth I’ve seen at other companies in similar situations. My manager also shares his expertise. These examples seem to resonate with our clients and we start to align on our goals.

12:30pm: We break for lunch and try an Israeli restaurant in the city. I’ve never had such fresh hummus.

1:30pm: I leverage my McKinsey network to get in touch with a corporate finance analytics expert in the client’s industry to bring additional perspective to the client’s questions around growth rates. We schedule a video conference for her to meet with the CEO and CFO later in the week. I really appreciate her scheduling the call so quickly since this topic is a high priority for our clients and we can’t really move forward efficiently until we completely align on our goals.

3:00pm: I spend time building a model in excel to predict different growth scenarios for the clients. I review them with my manager, make additional adjustments and share them with the expert who will speaking to the clients. I’ll be excited to hear her feedback over the next day or two.

7:00pm: I head home to meet my husband for dinner. Can’t wait to tell him all about my day.