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Unmatched people, unmatched impact

From collaborating with inspiring colleagues to analyzing of gigabytes of rich data sets, former investment banker Ajai shares his rewarding experience as a McKinsey data scientist.

I’ve always loved trying new things and creating. I’ve been on six continents and am always planning my next adventure to somewhere new and exciting. My family and friends are usually keen to try my eclectic recipes. One of my newer hobbies is gardening; I’m trying my hand at growing exotic fruit trees and flowers. It’s relaxing and so far, so good.

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Ajai and his family at the beach

From investment banking to McKinsey
In my professional life, I’ve also been entrepreneurial. I worked at a boutique investment bank prior to joining McKinsey. There, I led the quantitative strategy and analytics team, building it from a single person (me) to a large team. It was a fast–paced environment; I worked with incredibly talented individuals and I learned a ton.

About 18 months ago, a recruiter from McKinsey approached me about an exciting role in one of our McKinsey tech solutions. It involved using cutting–edge technology and machine learning to deliver substantial client impact. The opportunity was too compelling to resist. What followed was a rigorous interview process that ensured I was the right fit for the firm and that the firm was the right fit for me.

I work with amazing people everyday
There are so many things about the firm I love. First and foremost: the people. I work with amazing people everyday. Each one brings significant experience from in or outside of McKinsey. More importantly, even after our longest days, these are the people with whom I want to have dinner; we always share some good laughs. The support my colleagues have already shown me, has blown me away.

Lee, one of our solution managers and someone who I work with almost on a daily basis, has taught me a lot about the importance and fine art of maintaining client relationships. He’s a genius at translating analytics into real client impact. Lee has given me really useful guidance on how to navigate some tough personal situations – acting as my mentor and my friend.

Richard, our former solution leader, always had an Excel trick ready for me and showed me (through his example) how to manage a growing team of data scientists and translators. He never hesitated to get into the weeds with us to work through challenges. Our current solution leader, Doug, is bringing his extensive experience in operations to bear, taking our solution to new heights by helping our team grow in people and variety of product offerings as well.

Gigabytes of data driving significant impact
The second thing that excites me about McKinsey is the opportunity to deliver significant client impact. I work on some fascinating problems that are intellectually stimulating and important to our clients’ organizations. For example, one of my most memorable engagements was working with a credit insurance firm in the U.S. They sell credit insurance by partnering with credit unions across America. We were asked to identify the top 100 credit unions out of more than 6,000 that would make excellent partners.

Our team built a machine learning–based model with more than 2,000 different variables. It analyzed several gigabytes of data from more than 30 sources. From our results, we recommended a list of the best potential partners. Next, we drafted a pilot plan the clients’ account executives immediately put into action, contacting the credit unions we identified. 

This whole process, from model creation to the sales took place in four months. Currently, these new business partners are being on–boarded by the clients, who are anticipating significant impact as a result. The fast pace of the project was astounding. Such a process, in my experience, would have taken at least two years anywhere else.

Be confident, and be yourself
It may sound cliché, but if you’re interested in applying to McKinsey, go for it. Be confident, and be yourself. Don’t try to share what you think we want; there aren’t any right answers. If you interview, use that time to show us your personality and skills. Don’t be afraid to get in the weeds, and remember that your results should be communicated in a way that helps drive impact for clients.

Find a job like Ajai's

About Ajai
Based out of our Los Angeles office, Ajai is a data scientist, specializing in the insurance industry. Prior to McKinsey, he was a product manager at a investment bank in San Francisco. He has a bachelor's in applied mathematics and statistics from the University of California, Berkeley. 

For more information on McKinsey's data science career paths, visit 

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