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A leader in social responsibility

Anu came to lead McKinsey's Global Social Responsibility team, and oversee our annual Social Responsibility report, by way of a literature degree, med school, 12-year industry stint, and a happy accident
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Anu with her family

From literature to healthcare

I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Long Island. Reading was my first love, and I went to Brown University, majoring in literature. Brown did not require certain classes, so I could explore many topics and possible careers.

When I was about to graduate from Brown, I was deciding if to become a civil rights lawyer or a physician. Regardless of what I did, focusing on communities who are often at the margins of society was very important to me. At that time, there was a lot of talk about healthcare reform and universal healthcare. I got excited thinking about our medical system being designed in a very different way, and went to medical school at Yale.

Exploring the many options within medicine

While at Yale, I focused on understanding experiences of vulnerable populations, such as non-English speaking immigrants, with the healthcare system, which led to my training as a primary care doctor. I stayed at Yale for residency and did a research fellowship.

I enjoyed researching people's experiences with healthcare, but I was more fired up to do something to improve those experiences and, ultimately, the health outcomes of patients. I started to look at spaces adjacent to healthcare for possible careers. During this time, health care philanthropy was expanding. I loved the ability to look at a system level, think about the root causes of problems patients face every day, and develop solutions.

A happy accident

I accidentally ended up in corporate philanthropy. No one in my family had ever worked in a corporation. I had no prior business knowledge, but I met the team at Johnson & Johnson who had been funding a project at Yale I was supporting. J&J was starting to explore work in HIV/AIDS and asked if I could help them think about it. So, I went in as a consultant to J&J. What was supposed to be a three-month project turned into a 12-year career in their corporate philanthropy group.

I'm lucky to have joined J&J when I did. The company was starting to globalize their philanthropic giving and grow their programs in global health. I worked on a program that provided de-worming medication to 500 million children, oversaw a $100 million grant portfolio focused on mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and unlocked access to medication for children living with HIV. Across all these experiences, equitable access to services and medicines was foremost on my mind - something that’s still an important challenge for the world, especially now as we look at the COVID vaccine.

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Anu and her sister

My path to McKinsey

After about 12 years at J&J, I wanted to try something new so I joined a small operating foundation in New Jersey. As vice president of strategic initiatives, I focused on health systems in the US. I enjoyed working in a more nimble, entrepreneurial group, but after about a year, I missed the global nature of my prior work and being in the private sector. I knew about McKinsey through my work at J&J and because my sister works at the firm. In fact, I was a tremendous fan of McKinsey's client work in global health. When an opportunity as a practice manager for McKinsey’s Global Health and Philanthropy practice became available, I raised my hand.

Genesis of the Social Responsibility team

I joined McKinsey in 2016. A few months later, I took on a new project with Generation, a nonprofit founded by McKinsey. Through this project, I met Dr. Mona Mourshed, who was a senior partner at McKinsey and founding CEO of Generation. She had been tapped to build a social responsibility team to support and shape the firm in its social responsibility journey. Until this point, this priority had been quite dispersed around the firm. In January 2018, the Social Responsibility team was born and Mona and I were the first two people in the group.

Over the last three years, we went from two people to now about 20. At first, we started by looking at McKinsey’s actions as a responsible institution. Then, we expanded into the many ways McKinsey as a firm and McKinsey colleagues could give back and create opportunities for every person at the firm to participate in social responsibility. More recently, we have focused on better ensuring our client work delivers for all stakeholders and has the best benefit for society and the environment.

Social Responsibility Report

This is our third year doing an annual report. We use this as an opportunity to look back at the last year to see how we have delivered on our purpose, lived our dual mission, and brought our values into being. Personally, it's very rewarding to work on the report as we hear and share inspiring stories of positive, enduring impact.

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Playing cards with her team at home

New this year: client impact

The report covers how we deliver on our purpose by serving clients, developing insights, giving back, and acting responsibly. This year's report is the first time we've included our incredible client stories – ways we have helped clients improve society and take care of the planet. We plan to keep sharing these stories.

We also outline ways McKinsey has taken responsibility of its own operations - diversity and inclusion, the environment, human rights, and ethics. We take this very seriously and look year-over-year for ways to improve how we're doing and ensure we are leading the way in terms of being a responsible institution.

Our talent is our greatest resource

At McKinsey, we help clients think deeply about what they want to do and how to accomplish their goals. Those goals are varied and can be about things like expanding a business, tackling tech challenges, reducing environmental footprint or improving education. As we advise clients around the world, we take our advice to heart and continuously strive to improve our own diversity and inclusion efforts, our environmental impact and our role in equity, education and wellness. Just as I had an interesting journey to my current role, we all are on a journey to constantly improve the part we play on our team, in our communities and in the world.

Read the 2020 Social Responsibility Report

Learn more about how you can join McKinsey and be a part of change that matters.