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McKinsey is about teamwork

Alison loves the team aspect of working at McKinsey. It reminds her of her rowing days and helps her to become the best version of herself.

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As a captain and member of the women’s varsity rowing team, my morning alarm rang at five o’clock, six days a week, all four years I spent at the University of Pennsylvania. My classmates were always shocked to learn I survived my college experience since I had to wake up so early and balance athletics with my cognitive science and computer science studies. They would ask, “Why do you do this to yourself?” Instead of listing the aspects that drew me to rowing – collaboration, team goals, lessons learned from falling short of these goals and the strong sense of accomplishment from achieving them – I would simply smile and say “I love it.”

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Rowing is often considered the ultimate team sport. It requires eight bodies moving in perfect unison, listening attentively and responding instantly to the commands of the coxswain steering the boat. As an eight–person unit, there is no such thing as an individual statistic. There’s no “Good game, Ali!” There’s no “We did well offensively, but not defensively.” You either do well as a team or you don’t. With only a port side oar, I would row around in circles alone. Each person must be at her best to make the team its best.

While I am several years removed from college, my definition of teamwork has been forever influenced by my days as a rower. Success, I have learned, is best when shared. It should come as no surprise, I was drawn to McKinsey for its team culture.

My first project at McKinsey is with a team nearly the size of two rowing crews. We all serve important roles that drive the overall goals of the project. The quality of our work is the focus, but attention is also put on the effectiveness of our communication and environment. Twice a day we discuss our goals and progress as individuals and as a team and at least once a week, we get together for a fun event to spend time together and build comradery.

About Alison

Alison studied cognitive and computer science in Philadelphia, but now lives in Cambridge.

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