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Making my own McKinsey

Backpacking around the world was something Andi always wanted to do. This year, her dream is coming true.

I joined McKinsey in our Denver office in the summer of 2015 as the North America director of internal communications. A year later, I started double-hatting as the chief of staff for the NA region. When our global managing partner announced that diversity and inclusion would be a strategic priority for the firm and appointed our first chief diversity officer in 2018, I felt drawn to be a part of the burgeoning function. I came on as the global head of communications for DEI and have been on that team since. This was a newly created role, one which I helped shape. In January 2021, I took on an expanded role as global director for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Support during my learning journey

I see my journey as an example of what we call “making your own McKinsey.” Through my years at the firm, I followed inspiring leaders, amazing teams, and topics about which I’m passionate to create my own career path.

I’m one of those people who is constantly learning and actively seeking development opportunities. The firm has many resources to assist me, and other colleagues like myself, towards this goal. For instance, when I took up the chief of staff role, I didn’t know the ins and outs of what it meant, but I quickly connected with other people within the same community in the firm who supported me.

In my current role, I’ve taken part in relevant external trainings led by partner companies. As a team, we have a dedicated professional development budget to encourage colleagues to keep learning. It’s crucial if we want to champion important topics like diversity, equity and inclusion. Inclusive language, for instance, is continuously evolving. When we look ahead to McKinsey’s centennial in 2026, the firm will be an ever more diverse and inclusive workplace because of the efforts that have happened over the past years.

When it comes to DEI, I can see a real difference already between the McKinsey I joined and the McKinsey now. The global diversity team has grown by a few dozen colleagues in just a few years. We have developed a number of clear next steps to hire and retain diverse groups of talented people, e.g., our 10 actions towards racial equity. We’ve invested a lot in our diversity research to support our clients and the world at large. Internally, we make sure to provide to our colleagues extensive training on important topics like inclusive language, conscious inclusion, and more.

Championing flexibility

I’ve always enjoyed a fair amount of flexibility, having worked from home for fifteen years before COVID-19 made it a norm for everyone. I just earned my Muay Thai black belt, which has been an effort over the last three-and-a-half years. Being able to carve out the time to achieve this is a testament to flexibility at McKinsey.

The firm has also supported me as I gear up towards a bigger adventure – a gap year with my family to travel around the world. We’re planning to start with a couple of weeks in Morocco, Paris, and Amsterdam, then Zanzibar to get our kids SCUBA certified and do some diving, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. After this we’ll head to the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East before flying to South America through the end of this year. Early next year, we plan to explore parts of Southeast Asia, Asia, and Australia before heading back home. We’re planning to world-school our kids, who are 13 and 10, working with their school to craft a custom curriculum tailored to where we are in the world. This should be not only a life adventure but also a way to experience diverse cultures, grow global roots, and foster greater tolerance and a more inclusive worldview.

My husband and I have been wanting to do this for years; it’s been amazing to have McKinsey support me on an unpaid, year-long leave of absence for this adventure. In July 2023, I’ll come back to a project-based role, which will enable me time to find my next horizon – and continue making my own McKinsey.

If you’d like to follow along on our family adventure, we’ll be posting photos and stories on our Instagram account, @4AlmondsAbroad.

Read more about flexibility at McKinsey