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Be bold!

Denise is getting comfortable with taking the time and assistance she needs to find balance.

I try to push boundaries and experiment with different working models at McKinsey. I’m constantly challenging myself to redefine perceived norms around working hours or availability, and I’ve taken a significant amount of time away from McKinsey to travel and spend time with loved ones. This approach has made McKinsey work for me for the past four years, from new associate to associate partner in our Operations practice, based in Seattle.

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An all–female team

Last year, I led a team of all women – McKinsey colleagues and most of our clients. That’s still unusual in the world of operations at most organizations. Like usual, we worked on the most meaningful topics with our clients and made a big difference. However, this time, we paid extra attention to making sure each of our members was performing at her best. For example, we started the engagement with a team learning session to understand each other’s preferred working times and styles. We checked in regularly to make sure we were all having the space and time we needed to find balance. For some reason, having a team of all women made me feel more comfortable vocalizing the kinds of things I do to make my life and my career work for me. It made me think, “what would happen if I was this open with all my teams?” I might just be able to set a better example for all of my colleagues – male and female– to inspire them to create their best working environment.

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Longer time away

Beyond the day–to–day flexibility, McKinsey has given me the freedom to be there for the big stuff. It’s rare to find an employer that encourages you to take meaningful time off. Two years ago, I took two–and–a–half months off to backpack through a few US National Parks, spend time in Australia, and do some exploring in Europe.

Last year, I took a month off to spend time with family in Australia. Just as my time off was starting, my McKinsey team was kicking off a major transformation with one of our clients. Other McKinsey leaders chipped in to cover my responsibilities, which they did without hesitation.

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My village

It really does take a village. Each of us needs time to recharge and time to dedicate to the people and things that make us who we are. We all pull together to make sure we have that space, while still fully supporting our clients. We’re individually and collectively stronger for it.

Read more from Denise on our McKinsey Women’s blog

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