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A day in the McK life: Sonam

Chicago-based senior implementation coach, Sonam, grew up playing along with the hit quiz show Jeopardy! with her family. In December, she had the chance to compete on the show (which aired Jan. 26). 

Chicago-based senior implementation coach, Sonam, grew up playing along with the hit quiz show Jeopardy! with her family. In December, she had the chance to compete on the show (which aired Jan. 26). She came in second: “Obviously, I was disappointed I didn’t win, but just being a contestant was exciting and felt like an achievement.”

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Sonam was a general surgery resident physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital before coming to McKinsey: “I really enjoyed practicing medicine and caring for patients, but I wanted to address systemic healthcare issues on a larger scale. Consulting seemed like a great way to do that. McKinsey was ideal because of McKinsey Implementation. As a coach, I work with providers to help ensure the solutions we develop are sustained after the project is completed. It allows me to see the impact of my work in a tangible way and that’s tremendously motivating.”

We recently sat down with Sonam to learn more about her typical day:

6:15 am: Wake up and head to hotel gym for a 30-minute workout to get my brain going. Working out in the morning is the best way to ensure I exercise every day, as evenings can fill up quickly team events, work, or other activities?

7:00 am: Watch the Today show while I’m getting ready and having breakfast. I spent so many years getting to the hospital by 6:00 AM that I consider having this time in the morning quite a perk of this job.

8:00 am: Meet my team in the hotel lobby and head to the client site, reviewing my calendar for the day and checking emails en route.

8:30 am: Check in with our engagement manager to make sure we’re aligned on the objectives for the day. Then I prepare agendas for my meetings and review any relevant analyses I’ve conducted. As nonchalant as I’m trying to sound, “conducting analyses” requires the use of Excel in ways I had never tried prior to joining McKinsey. It’s remarkable how much I’ve learned in such a short time, and I have my teammates and their unending patience to thank for that.

10:00 am: Touch base with my client. My current engagement is a hospital system turnaround, and my work is focused on business development and workforce management for two of the hospitals we’re supporting. The call is with the business development lead at a hospital to review the progress we’ve made on several initiatives and discuss the next steps we both need to take to continue forward. It’s amazing how much goes on behind the scenes at hospitals that I never realized, despite spending an average of 80 hours a week in one for the past three years. The client truly appreciates my clinical experience, which has helped us develop a strong relationship.

12:00 pm: Lunch time. A thoughtful team member usually sends around a link to a food delivery service well in advance of lunch time, so we have food when it’s time to eat. This is helpful as this particular team is huge (15 people) by McKinsey norms. Ordering out streamlines lunch time and keeps us all productive mid-day.

1:00 pm: Spend a few hours problem solving with leadership and other members of my team. This time is instrumental in helping me develop insights and knowledge to effectively counsel our client and drive real impact. Sometime we review slides I’ve been working on; other times I bring up ideas on how I want to perform an analysis and get real time feedback. Coming from surgical residency – a culture where being wrong is never ok – it was initially challenging for me to speak up during these sessions. I’m getting more comfortable with iterating on ideas to reach the best possible solution.

3:00 pm: Another client call, this time with the labor team at one of my hospitals. We discuss the challenges they have had, and how best to address them. I’m especially excited I get to work with nurses, who were my own personal lifesavers during my medical training.

5:00 pm: Review my to-do list for the day, summarize my client meetings so I can keep my team updated on the progress we’ve made, and decide what work – if any – I need to accomplish that evening.

7:00 pm: Team dinner. I’m on an especially social team, so a lot of us get together at night to explore the city and try new cuisines. One of my favorite recently was a Burmese restaurant. Delicious!

9:00 pm: Head back to the hotel, and wrap up anything I need for the next day.

11:00 pm: Sweet sweet slumber.