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Adventures at sea

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Soon after becoming an engagement manager, Dmitry paused his McKinsey adventure for one at sea. He has since sailed 20,000 nautical miles in the Clipper Round the World Race aboard the leading boat, the Sanya Serenity Coast. He sent us a quick update during a stopover in Australia:

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“I’ve never had a time filled with so many different and intense emotions. I felt ecstatic crossing the finish line first after thousands of miles of racing, beating other teams by just minutes. It felt exhilarating to take the helm while surfing 15 meter waves in up to 100km/h wind gusts. I was extremely sad to hear one team lost their boat after running aground, and heartbroken to learn another team lost a crew member in a man overboard accident. During this race, we’ve been escorted by hundreds of dolphins, majestic albatrosses, and whales. We’ve seen hundreds of shooting stars, gazed at the Milky Way and watched amazing sunrises. We’ve witnessed emergency evacuations, broken bones, dislocated shoulders, stitched wounds and lots of sea sickness. We’ve ripped sails, snapped lines and damaged rigging. Excitement and uncertainty come every time we leave port, followed by overflowing relief when we complete a leg of the race.”

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“My days at sea are more intense than a tough consulting project. Each stint is 15-35 days long and there is no such thing as a weekend. Each crew has about 20 people plus the skipper. The crew splits into two teams called the port and starboard watch; while one watch sails, the other rests – six hours on, six off. There are daily team meetings, meals, and time to gear up (you need up to six layers of wind and waterproof clothing), position checks and weather reports. After 20 days at sea, the only thing that gets me up at 2am to go on deck is the relentless pursuit of our goal to make the boat go faster.”

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“It's amazing how quickly we’ve grown as sailors and teammates. In just a couple of months, we’ve gone from having a basic understanding of how to race a 70-foot yacht to really knowing what we are doing. Everyone has a certain expertise, just like consultants on a team. Initially, I focused a lot on steering and working on the bow – McKinsey associate equivalent roles on the team. Now, after three months, I've gained enough experience to become an assistant watch leader. Like an engagement manager at McKinsey, I’m spending more time coaching others and looking at the bigger picture during maneuvers.”

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“After six races covering more than 20,000 nautical miles, our team - Sanya Serenity Coast - is first out of 12 teams in the overall standing. Factors contributing to our success have been similar to those at my day job on land: everyone needs a strong desire to win, continuously grow, persevere through tough times and failures, trust each other, and complement each other's skills. I certainly learnt a lot about all that at McKinsey and the Clipper adventure helps me learn more about it in extreme situations.”

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