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Achieving my goals with the right support

Water polo bronze medallist Aleksa tells why he returned home to Serbia after earning his degree at Berkeley.

Read more about: Emerging markets| Diversity

Aleksa joined McKinsey in Belgrade after studying at Berkeley. This water polo pro wanted to be close to his family while making a difference for his home country. If you want similar opportunities in fast–growing global markets and you have or will have an advanced degree from a university in North America and/or at least two years of work experience in the US, apply for Global Connect – our newest event to bring the world of McKinsey to you.

I grew up in Serbia, where I played professional water polo. This brought me a full scholarship at UC Berkeley after high school. I was thrilled because it meant I could play alongside my brother who was already studying there.

After finishing my undergraduate studies, I was not sure what direction I wanted to go, so I came home to spend time with my family and decide on my next steps. I ended up accepting a role with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Serbia. After a year there, I switched to McKinsey.

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The main reason to start at McKinsey in Belgrade was to develop myself so I could help develop my country in the future. Next to this, our office is so small that it kind of feels like an apartment where you hang out with your friends, while at work. I now have close friends here and we always text each other and share our experiences on the studies and schedule coffee breaks every few weeks. We try to work out together as often as possible and often share meals together. It’s like a second family.

This incredible support is not only for friendship. During my second project, I was serving a telco client. My McKinsey colleagues helped me believe in myself, even when I was new. The support I received from the engagement manager and firm experts taught me what I needed to know while empowering and expecting me to step up and take charge of my work. They pushed me away from my comfort zone so I could do things I never imagined I was capable of. For example, I organized and facilitated a workshop for 10 of our clients’ directors, which led to substantial impact for the client. This made me feel amazing since I personally contributed to the company’s success. The clients were so impressed, they asked us to do similar workshops with other teams in their organization.

The most valuable thing about working at McKinsey is meeting and talking to senior executives. My colleagues are teaching me to do that with confidence, making it a good experience to learn from influential people while establishing connections.

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More about Aleksa

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I am passionate about sports (I played water polo for more than 14 years and won a bronze medal!) and food. I love working out and staying active. I enjoy making food with my friends and family and eating it with a good bottle of wine.

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