Several years ago, after an internship at the United Nations World Food Program, Dagmar followed her Norwegian husband Einar, whom she met in Prague, back to his home country. Fourteen years later, with two school-age children and several years of consulting experience under her belt, Dagmar found she missed the Czech Republic deeply.
A lucky coincidence led to interviews at McKinsey and eventually a full transfer from Scandinavia to Central Europe.
How did your McKinsey story start?
A recruiter from McKinsey called me at a time when my career was plateauing. Things were calm - almost too calm - and I wasn’t learning on the job as much as I would have loved. An offer from McKinsey’s Implementation team provided the spark I needed and came at the right time.
I was ready to come back to Prague. I was curious about projects I could get involved in, new industries I could explore, and skills I could learn. I wanted to help build McKinsey’s Implementation practice in Central Europe and work on strategy on top of process management. I was especially tempted by the prospect of the close work with board members and industry leaders that this new role would bring. For all these reasons, I felt I should not pass up this opportunity. I took the challenge to learn and develop again, within the consulting setting that I already knew and liked, but on a higher gear.
What were your first weeks with the firm like?
We moved our family from Norway to the Czech Republic by car as all the flights were cancelled during the national COVID-19 lockdowns. For the first several months, I worked from home. It was a little difficult to get to know the inner workings of McKinsey and build new relationships based on trust. McKinsey operates in a different way than I was used to in my previous job. We are a bigger team. There is a sprint to develop the initial concept, and then many rounds of iteration with numerous inputs from experts and senior partners. I am still amazed by how many people get involved in a single project. Everything we do is a team effort, with partners providing hands-on advice. I appreciate how collaborative and cooperative problem-solving is at McKinsey.
What has helped you make it all work?
I have been very well taken care of from the beginning. My first project team walked me through everything I needed to learn about how McKinsey works, plus, my McKinsey Mentor and senior partners were always available for help with smaller and bigger things. Luckily, I am a person who is not afraid to ask. For all my questions, there was always someone ready to give me the answer.
What do you like about your role now that you've had a chance to explore it?
I like the exposure to ambitious organizations and their leaders and helping them solve problems that matter. I also very much enjoy working with senior experts and partners, who bring valuable, enriching knowledge to our discussions.
Why implementation at McKinsey and not somewhere else?
It is a step change; we do meaningful work for the organizations we serve. It is in the implementation phase that you see our firm’s insights put into practice. As an implementation manager, I have the opportunity to see issues that could limit our projected impact and the responsibility to address them. That is a fantastic place to be: helping our clients sail in the right direction, having the best strategy from McKinsey in their pocket. Our clients prioritize the work we do together.
How is it living with your Czech-Norwegian family in Prague?
My husband and I try to bring forward the best of each other, which requires mutual trust and support. My husband puts in quite a lot of time and work at home. He respects my need for self-realization and independence. I couldn’t do it without him.
What helps at work is respecting personal boundaries. At each project kick-off, we discuss them and then honor them throughout the study.