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A day in the McK life: Katie

– Katie is an associate in the Operations practice, based in New Jersey. She is currently working on a lean transformation at a pharmaceutical manufacturing company.

5:15am: My alarm clock goes off. It’s absolutely necessary to snooze at least once, especially when the hotel bed is soooo comfortable...


5:40am: Finally time to get up and ready for the day. I quickly check email on my phone. Last night, I reached out to one of the European partners leading our team; overnight he sent me information and directed me to two useful practice documents in our online database (KNOW). I’m excited because this material will be really insightful for my clients.

6:25am: I meet my team in the hotel lounge for coffee and a grab-and-go breakfast before we head to the client site. Since we are working in the plant, we usually start our day a little before the first shift operators – which means we have some pretty early mornings.

7:15am: When we get to the plant, I meet my “mini-T” transformation client team for our daily check-in. We talk about our plan for the day, deliverables, and support needs. My colleagues have similar meetings with their teams; we each lead a group of clients focused on improving the processes in different manufacturing areas or support functions as a part of this lean transformation.

7:45am: I go to the first shift production huddle. We recently implemented new performance management tracking boards and a new meeting cadence I want to observe in action. After the meeting I pull the team leader aside and give him some feedback. I point out the things going really well and a few areas for continued refinement using McKinsey’s strengths-based feedback approach. My suggestions seem to be received well; the team leader and I have a good working relationship and he both welcomes my advice and gives me his regularly.

8:15am: I head out to the shop floor with part of the team to observe one of the packaging lines. We are looking for ways to improve the efficiency of the line and rebalance some of the tasks the operators perform. As we are observing the line, we talk to the operators, explaining what we are looking for and asking for their suggestions.

9:30am: After about an hour on the shop floor, we head to a conference room where I lead a problem solving session with the clients. We use the observations we just made, in conjunction with other client data and McKinsey knowledge to propose changes to improve the efficiency of the line. The team decides to pilot these changes on the line tomorrow. To prepare, we develop standard work procedures for the new process.

11:45am: I meet with the director of the production area for lunch. We head to a local sandwich place where I update him on the work the mini-Ts have been doing. We spend time talking about his goals for the transformation and beyond, and I provide him with some one-on-one coaching.

1:00pm: After I get back to the plant site, I meet with my engagement manager. We have an important meeting with the senior client leadership tomorrow, so I share my draft of the slide deck to get his input. He gives me advice on ways to improve the graphics and messages and asks to include some additional data. I spend the next hour or so in our team room working on his recommendations, while intermittently helping other members of the mini-T team with their work streams. Thankfully, Taylor Swift playing in the background is keeping me motivated.

3:30pm: Each week the McKinsey team holds a training for clients on different transformation topics. This week my colleague is teaching lean fundamentals. The training is really interactive and the client participants are excited about the topic. My colleague does a great job and sets the bar high for me, as I am leading next week’s training.

4:30pm: It’s time for the daily checkout with my mini-T team. The leader of each work stream talks about the progress made during the day and presents their findings and deliverables. One team ran into some obstacles today, so after the meeting I help them develop a plan for working through them tomorrow.

5:00pm: I meet with rest of my McKinsey team to quickly catch up and plan for tomorrow. Then we head back to the hotel together.

6:15pm: Our hotel gym offers free classes to guests, so a colleague and I head to a vinyasa yoga class. It’s a great way to exercise and relax after a crazy day. Namaste!

7:30pm: After yoga, we change and meet the rest of our team for dinner at a trendy restaurant in town. One of our clients recommended the place and it’s delicious. We catch up on each other’s lives, talk about our plans for the weekend and joke around. A fun night.

9:00pm: I head back to my hotel room to finish my slides for the meeting with senior client leaders tomorrow and send them to our visual graphics team for final polishing overnight. It’s so helpful to have a team of experts who can take my slides from good to great while I sleep.

10:15pm: Time for bed and a good night sleep before another busy day tomorrow.

Katie joined our Operations practice in part for the variety – to work with different companies, across industries, on a range of ops topics – and for the experience and learning that come with such broad exposure. She received an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University, then worked in manufacturing and operations management for a large pharmaceutical company. Before joining McK, she managed the launch and licensing of a new vaccine manufacturing facility while studying part time to earn her MBA from Villanova University.