McKinsey celebrates Pride Month – meet Akay

Akay excited to eat delicious french fries
Akay excited to eat delicious french fries

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in the greater Seattle area and flew across the country to attend Dartmouth College. After college, I lived mostly in New York City, with some time in Washington D.C. and Beijing.  I worked mostly in education as a teacher and professional development coach, although I also worked as a bartender.  I truly believe I owe my early “client hands” training to my Monday afternoon regulars at the bar!

I moved to Chicago in 2013 to attend business school at University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  I decided to go to business school seven years after college because I felt I needed to better understand why people believed business practices could be applied to education. I felt strongly that these theories were inappropriate for schools and other education institutions and wanted to test that and learn more. I then joined the McKinsey Digital practice in the Chicago office in 2015 to better understand how companies tackle tough problems. And here I am today!

Akay with her fiance at University of Chicago campus
Akay with her fiance at University of Chicago campus

What does McKinsey Equal at McKinsey mean to you?

The Equal at McKinsey community has been one of the anchors of my McKinsey experience – starting with the Equal at McKinsey's members I met during my McKinsey recruiting process. They were a big part of my decision to accept my offer. These Equal at McKinsey's members provided mentorship, sponsorship, and overall guidance that enabled me to craft and define my place in the firm and turn a job into a career.

When I first heard of the Global Equal at McKinsey manager role, I was excited; not necessarily for myself to take the role, but rather for the fact that McKinsey put a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion by creating a full time position.  As I learned more about the role, I realized it would enable me to combine my passion for Equal at McKinsey with many of the skills I developed as a consultant.  Inside of analyzing and driving change for my clients, I could do that for the firm itself and help us push strategic objectives that will make the firm even better for our colleagues around the world.

What I have come to appreciate about this role and the guidance from Equal at McKinsey leadership is the focus on multiple directions.  When I first joined Equal at McKinsey, my expectation of the group was that this would be an area to build friends and a network, and then work to recruit more Equal at McKinsey colleagues. While this is true, Equal at McKinsey as a group does much more than that – be it through research showing other organizations why and how to increase their diversity and inclusion efforts or examining our Allyship programs to to be more action-orientated and provide training and counsel to drive change in the broader global community.

What moments in Equal at McKinsey have left you feeling inspired or included?

In early 2017, the Midwest Equal at McKinsey community came together to decide what the vision would be for our community. Aside from creating more opportunities for connectivity, I was inspired that so many members wanted to invest in the broader Chicago LGBTQ+ community.  From that one conversation, we took on multiple pro-bono efforts    for different organizations in the city and drove change through them.

What did you want to be while growing up?

When I was a kid, I wanted to either be a vet or a cheerleader for the Seattle Seahawks. Some days I think about going back to school to be a vet. I’m pretty sure I have lost the desire to be a Seattle Seahawks cheerleader though.

What piece of advice would you give to new hires?

Find the people you like working with and stick with them. Don’t be afraid to go after the things you want to do. And always take your PTO (turn off notifications too).

Black and white cat on bookshelf
Black and white cat on bookshelf

When you are not working, what are you doing?

Depending on my mood – watching tv or reading a book in the sun, adventuring and traveling, baking, going on picnics with friends and my fiancé, spoiling my dog (Kismet) and my cat (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg), trying to convince my fiancé we should get a leash for the cat to take her on walks, you know, the usual things! Given the current COVID situation, I have started to ride my bike around Chicago a lot more and am loving the exercise, exploring the city, and being outdoors.

Akay's dog wearing a rainbow bandana
Akay's dog wearing a rainbow bandana

What is your non-negotiable daily ritual?

Making tea in the morning. I have teas I purchased from all my travels and every morning I take a few minutes to decide which one I will have that day. It’s a nice way to recall the trip and fond memories.

Are you more of a sweet or savory person? What’s your favorite of this category?

Ooh, I like a good combination of bot.! Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I love all the sweet foods – pancakes, French toast, waffles, mmmm!  I also love eggs and bacon.  Thankfully I have found the perfect combination at my favorite diner, Over Easy. They have pancakes where the bacon is INSIDE the batter and you get scrambled eggs with veggies and cheese and some fruit… delish!

Learn more about Equal at McKinsey colleagues at McKinsey>

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