Prior to McKinsey, I worked in a traditional industry, where following set-in-stone procedures was critical to my success. At McKinsey, I’m encouraged to apply an entrepreneurial mindset to help our clients. The problems we’re asked to help solve are the most challenging issues organizations face; no one has fully figured out solutions to them yet. To add value, I have to get outside of my comfort zone and push for new thinking.
For example, my time at one manufacturing client began with little receptivity of or ownership in setting goals for a transformation program. After frustrating conversations that yielded no buy-in from our clients, I tried a new approach. I sat down with the main client and had a long conversation. The turning point came when I convinced him I would stay with him to deliver real cost savings to his business unit, helping him increase the influence his team had on the overall organization. Throughout the next seven months, we tried many ways to reduce cost based on the minimal data available. We built clean sheets from scratch, targeted demand reduction first, and convinced vendors to share spend data with us. We proved we could unlock upwards of $40M from his business unit, showing leadership its import. At the end of the study, the client was eager to stay in touch. We still speak regularly to talk about new challenges and brainstorm solutions.
Cathy is an implementation consultant in Atlanta. She has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. She spent about four years at BP Oil & Gas, graduating from their Challenge Leadership Program and working as a procurement and supply chain category specialist before coming to McKinsey. Originally from China, she has spent exactly 50% of her time in the US and China. In her free time, she enjoys traveling the globe with her husband. Their favorite thing to do is collect a local Starbucks mug from every city they visit; they have 80 and counting!