There are many reasons that excite me about working at McKinsey. First, the client problems we are asked to solve are big, gnarly, and complex. From improving efficiency and driving cost reduction for a large public transit authority to identifying opportunities to create value through application development for a global food player to partnering with an agricultural company to create their long-term strategy, helping significantly improve our clients’ performance remains a joy. Problem-solving with my teams is hands down my favorite part about the job.
Second, the teams I’ve worked with and manage include some of the most intelligent, supportive, and fun colleagues I can imagine. On one team I really enjoyed, a typical day entailed building a multi-input model that calculated the end-to-end costs of a retailer’s product assortment, then doing a Peloton ride with the partners and business analysts. On another team, I co-led a client workshop and then competed in a scavenger hunt against the associate partners and associates . These moments highlighted that the way we work isn’t just about the work – but rather, about creating friendships and bonds that extend beyond the engagement. As an engagement manager, I take pride in creating these environments that allow, and even encourage, a fusion of work and play.
Finally, the structures McKinsey puts in place to foster relationships and connection have made my time at the firm enriching. The McKinsey Black Network is second to none in the many ways it supports Black colleagues. The Chicago office, the Agriculture and Operations practices, and the recruiting team have each enabled me to “find my people” – sponsors and mentors who advocate for me daily.
Pay it forward mentorship
When I was an associate, there was an engagement manager who really invested in me. She would constantly say, “I need you to tell me what your priorities are for the week, not just today. What are you driving toward?” She helped me put each deliverable into the context of the broader engagement. What I learned from her was that completing an analysis or creating a presentation wasn’t the end goal. It was syndicating the findings with the clients, pressure testing the analysis or insights with the team, and/or developing novel and innovate solutions to age-old problems. She provided the tools for me to bring a distinctive answer to our clients.
Now, as an engagement manager myself, I realize how critical the role is in shaping the development of early tenured colleagues. For example, I asked a business analyst on one of my teams to lead a client brainstorming session, but he had never done that before. The day before the session, I set up time with him to do a dry run – providing guidance on how to navigate difficult questions, facilitate robust dialogue, and surface the biggest opportunities. He did a stellar job.
Escapism through travel and books
Exploring the world remains one of my favorite pastimes. I love immersing myself in the richness of cultures and cuisines wherever I go. The most ideal situation is having a friend from a particular place serve as my tour guide and entry point. Recently, I went to Turkey for a friend’s wedding and the combination of amazing food, history, and culture made it one of my most memorable experiences to-date. I’ve managed to take at least two international vacations a year and countless domestic getaways since joining the firm.
Reading also brings me joy. When I was younger, I could escape into a book for hours, not bothering to eat or sleep until I was finished with it. Now, I enjoy juggling multiple books – usually at least one nonfiction and one fiction – and escaping the realities of the world around me. In my opinion, the public library remains one of the best uses of tax dollars. I download books to my Kindle and read everywhere – waiting for a friend to show up for a dinner reservation or during my commute. Some of my favorites this year have been The Vanishing Half, Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America, Pachinko, and Raybearer.