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Stepping back and launching forward with Aaron, managing partner

Through the ebbs and flows of life, Aaron has found purpose in creating new opportunities for Black talent to thrive.

Across all industries, talents, and career paths, one important skill reigns supreme when finding success and satisfaction: being able to see things from multiple perspectives.

Aaron is familiar with this gift after a lifetime of big dreams, international experiences, and challenging decisions.

Born and raised in Ghana, Aaron was a high achiever from a young age. Growing up, he was attracted to any opportunity to help solve problems and create streamlined tools. After earning a degree in electrical engineering from a university in Botswana, he then attended Georgia Tech for graduate school after which he joined Texas Instruments (TI) as a chip engineer. He eventually left TI to pursue his MBA at the University of Pennsylvania.

During his time at Georgia Tech, Aaron attended a McKinsey info session which served as his first introduction to the firm. However, while he appreciated McKinsey’s mission, he was admittedly “too in love with engineering work at the time” to pay much attention.

That all changed when Aaron found himself wanting more out of his career. After one pivotal project in his time at Texas Instruments, the future direction of his career started to take shape.

“Sometime around 2001, I became technical lead of a new device that we were developing,” he explained. “In that role, I was still doing some applications but was interfacing a lot with the business world and more non-engineering people than I ever had. And then it just hit me that even though I was still passionate about technology, there was more that I wanted to do. I think for me, that project was the turning point.”

That project was the catalyst for Aaron leaving TI for his MBA, launching his consulting career, and eventual transition to the McKinsey family.

A natural transition to the next chapter

In addition to his experience at the McKinsey info sessions, Aaron found himself regularly meeting more people connected with McKinsey as he began considering the career switch.

Ultimately, Aaron decided McKinsey was the perfect place to start the new chapter of his career, and he joined the team in August 2004. Less than a year later, he got involved with the McKinsey Black Network (MBN), where he nurtured a passion for advancing opportunities for Black talent across the McKinsey landscape and beyond.

Connections that were built to last

Aaron immediately found himself surrounded by the mentors he had been looking for throughout his career – mentors who brought various perspectives to the table and enabled him to grow as a professional in the Semiconductors practice.

Relationships like that have proven to be the backbone of his success and a huge reason he’s stayed at McKinsey for over 18 years.

“I have two client ecosystems at the firm – my semiconductor ecosystem and my automotive ecosystem,” he explained. “These are two “families” where I serve clients with colleagues who are more friends than work colleagues. Those personal relationships, those friendships that I've built with the firm, along with my MBN family, are a big part of why I'm here.”

Building the McKinsey Black Network of the future

Aaron got involved with MBN nearly 16 years ago. Since then, he’s gathered diligent insights about his community and what it will take to achieve the growth and innovation needed to keep paving the way for an even brighter future for Black talent.“One thing I ask myself is, how do we think about really scaling the impact that we have? It's all ‘well and good' to improve what we're doing internally. But how do we get that multiplicative effect? I think those are some of the things that I aspire for MBN going forward.”

His main goals for MBN – both on a local level in his new home of Detroit and on a national level – are three-pronged.

First, Aaron wants to continue to advance the 10 actions toward racial equity McKinsey set in place in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and resulting protests. These commitments include recruitment, community involvement, and advancement of Black talent.

“I think we're making good progress with these commitments,” he said. “But the way those 10 actions become sustained long-term is by taking ownership in and believing in the 10 actions at every level of the firm. How do we get all our colleagues to understand how to develop, mentor, and sponsor Black colleagues? How do we help our colleagues in the office understand how to best create opportunities for our MBN colleagues?"

Aaron is committed to expanding the hiring pipeline in Michigan and engaging and retaining more local Black talent. “When it comes to hiring, I want to encourage us to look beyond the University of Michigan,” he elaborated.

He also wants to ensure interviewers are well-calibrated to identify strong markers of excellence in Black talent. “Sometimes, the markers of excellence and great intrinsics in some Black candidates depend on how they've grown up and where they've developed,” he explained. “That may not look the same as the average candidate that the firm sees, and we risk losing great potential talent that way.

Second, Aaron would like to engage Black business, social and public sector leaders in a more deliberate way in Detroit. “I’d also like us to engage Black executives in Detroit more, find ways to support them and also create additional opportunities for our MBN colleagues to counsel senior clients”. In May, 2022, the Detroit office hosted the inaugural Detroit Black Executives Summit under Aaron’s leadership.

Aaron’s third (but far from final) goal when it comes to MBN is supporting the community at large. Whether it’s further advancing the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility or making more donations to organizations developing and connecting Black talent, Aaron feels certain that a strong sense of camaraderie within the community is key to fueling success for decades to come.

Words of wisdom for new talent

With years of mentoring experience under his belt and professional perspectives that span the gamut of McKinsey roles, Aaron has two important pieces of advice for incoming McKinsey talent: believe you are worthy of being here and, once you’re here, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“I'd say if you're here, there's a reason you're here. You're smart, you're bright, you're capable, and you will be successful. Whether you stay or leave, you will be successful. Don’t sweat it.”

This confident approach to work comes from decades of defining what success means to him and using his diverse experiences to set better goals for his future – starting with running his charity in Ghana that funds college education for youth in need.

No matter his next step, Aaron will always turn to his personal and professional community for inspiration, support, and empowerment in good times and bad. At the end of the day, he credits his relationships as being the most important part of his life and a major reason he’s achieved such tremendous success – both in the workplace and outside of it.

Find a role like Aaron’s