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A day in the McK life: Josh


– Josh, an associate in our Mid Atlantic office, joined McKinsey through the Insight Healthcare program. He’s now leveraging his MD and PhD in immunology to serve clients in pharma and healthcare. Here he describes one of his typical days helping a pharma company think about its sales force strategy and describes how the people, the impact and McKinsey’s values drew him to the firm.

6:30am: Wake up. I check my email while getting ready for the day. I’m staffed locally, and, although my team gave me the option of staying in a hotel, I chose home. I spend two hours commuting daily, but I make that time productive and I get to spend more time with my one-year-old son. He just started walking and is close to saying his first word.

7:30am: Commute to the client. After saying goodbye to my family, I spend the majority of my commute planning and prioritizing my work for the day.

9:00am: Team check-in. After all my team members arrive, we briefly discuss our plans for the day. Since there are multiple teams on the ground, we also touch base with them to talk about interdependencies and share relevant knowledge and insights.

10:00am: Client meeting. I meet with a key member of the client team regarding data I’ve requested. He describes the related work his team has done. I’m pleased; the data he provides is exactly what I was looking for and will fit nicely into the analytic model.

11:00am: Team Problem Solving. Our McKinsey team has problem solving sessions one to three times each week. Today, we review a few materials we’ll share with our clients soon and discuss a few key questions about the scope of our project. I present some analyses regarding the implications of product changes on the organization’s sales force. I seek input from the rest of my team on additional variables to consider; we take a few minutes to brainstorm and then prioritize the most interesting ideas. It’s always helpful to spend time talking about my work with my team – they always give me new things to think about.

12:30pm: Lunch. One of our team norms is to eat lunch outside the team room. Usually we go to the client cafeteria, which is delicious. Today’s topic of conversation is the path we each took to McKinsey. Several of us came to McKinsey after earning advanced degrees (not MBAs), so we enjoy swapping stories. I joined McKinsey after earning my PhD and MD from Emory University. I discovered the firm through the Insight Healthcare (IHC) program. The program helped me decide between consulting and academia by showing me what I would do day-to-day as an associate and providing the opportunity to talk with others (at all levels, inside and outside McK) about my choice.

I share with my current team that I joined for three reasons and many of my colleagues seem to agree:

1) The people. This was by far my number one consideration. The people I met at IHC were impressive on every level. They were insightful, brilliant, kind, and well-spoken. I wanted to work with them as colleagues, learn from them, and become more like them. (Here I tease my team that they seem to be the exception to the norm…)

2) Our values. IHC demonstrated McKinsey’s values on a high level, highlighting some of McKinsey’s learning opportunities and resources that would help me grow and achieve a full life. Since joining full time, I have come to appreciate more of our values, like the obligation to dissent that requires us all to express our opinions. It helps us deliver the best answers for our clients and builds a real sense of comradery and trust.

3) The type of work. I wanted to work on fascinating problems with high impact. The mock engagement and examples McKinsey people shared at IHC made me excited about my career – something I hadn’t felt about academia in a while.

After swapping stories we all feel re-energized. Time to head back to the team room.

1:30pm: Call with McKinsey Analytics. I’m doing a somewhat complicated analysis, matching pharmaceutical sales, institutions, physicians, and sales territories (based in part on the data the client shared this morning), and I need some assistance. I call McKinsey Analytics to get help generating the output I need. It will help me determine the promotional sensitivity of the products and the productivity of the sales force.

4:00pm: Client presentation. We have been giving short presentations to a key client a couple of times per week to keep him updated on our progress. My manager, another associate, and I each present a few pages. My pages discuss our recommendation to add additional sales personnel, which will provide a positive return on investment in the short term and additional flexibility in the long term. The client has a few questions, and we discuss some interesting next steps. For example, the client has a new drug in the pipeline, and wants to better understand the impact additional personnel could have on the drug’s launch.

5:30pm: Checkout. Our team discusses our accomplishments for the day and work that needs to be done tonight and tomorrow.

6:00pom: Commute home. During my hour commute, I interview a colleague on the West Coast who has done similar work for another client. She answers my questions and provides useful insights for our client. She recommends a geospatial analysis of sales territory size and density to see if this is impacting productivity.

7:00pm: Family time. My team knows I will be out-of-pocket for two hours to have dinner and spend time with my wife and son.

9:00pm: Wrap up. I normally spend an hour our two answering emails, performing analytics, and scheduling meetings at the end of the day. I also get the ball rolling on any overnight requests, such as research inquiries to our knowledge team, pages to our Visual Graphics team for formatting, or input requests to our partners in Europe.


Although I usually head home for the night, our team occasionally has dinner together. This photo was taken after my favorite team event, Escape the Room Philadelphia. Here, we put our McKinsey problem solving skills to a fun use: cracking codes, deciphering riddles, and making our way through numerous puzzles to literally escape from a locked room in less than an hour.