Living my purpose at McKinsey, one ESG project at a time

Donatela wearing yellow hat in desert
Donatela wearing yellow hat in desert

I have been passionate about sustainability for as long as I can remember. My parents took me to see a glacier in my home country of Argentina when I was very young, and I remember my dad saying, “When you are my age, this won’t exist anymore because of global warming.” From then on, mitigating climate change is all I’ve wanted to do.

That led me to Caltech, where I received my bachelor’s in chemistry and researched artificial photosynthesis. Then I went to UC Berkeley for my PhD in chemistry and a master's in electrical engineering; I conducted research on organic solar cells. During my time in academia, I became aware about the diversity challenges in STEM fields. I became passionate about increasing representation of women and POC within academia. Along with sustainability. It all came together for me in Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG).

Choosing McKinsey over academia

I was not planning on leaving academia, but I had a friend who was interested in consulting. He dragged me to a session on McKinsey Insight, and I discovered McKinsey offered exactly what I wanted. Not only would I have a chance to make a meaningful difference, I would also get variety in my work, global travel, entrepreneurial opportunities, a fast-paced environment, and the chance to work with companies with large influence.

At first, I joined McKinsey Digital, and shifted into McKinsey Sustainability a couple of years later.

My role in the firm

Currently, I'm a solution manager who focuses on ESG.

As part of McKinsey Sustainability, we built ESG Insights, which is McKinsey’s home for ESG data, tools, and people. I am equal parts product owner and expert who oversees the team. We split our time between building solutions and bringing them to clients from all industries across the globe.

We are growing rapidly. My goal is to figure out our vision and how we serve clients on ESG. I work with the ESG service line and other ESG leaders to understand where we can have the greatest impact and how we can systematically and analytically meet those objectives. My team works with the development team to build the tools we need, and we iterate on the solutions, working in an Agile way.
In a nutshell, my job is to take the recipes of how we help clients and come up with ways to do it better and faster.

One of my most meaningful projects so far

It’s hard to choose a favorite project, but one of our most successful solutions provides benchmarking of ESG performance based on a capital market perspective. It pulls in the top ESG metrics for a company such as emissions, water withdrawal, percentage of women, climate targets, lost time injury rates, and independence of the board.

It tells clients exactly what their vulnerabilities and strengths are and how they compare to their competitors. We help them prioritize their ESG efforts, and progress becomes much more actionable for them. They can see, for example, the top five actions they must take to hit goals, create opportunities, avoid risk, and compete — and what those changes mean from a financial perspective.

Why I am glad I chose McKinsey

I am passionate about sustainability and diversity, and I am living my purpose through my work at McKinsey. I'm having a positive impact by helping companies navigate a complex space and transform from an environmental and social standpoint.

Beyond the work, I love my team. Everybody is extremely talented, passionate about ESG, and hardworking. We’ve reached a level of impact and scale I wouldn’t have dreamed possible. We have become a family and are very supportive of each other.

More about me

I'm originally from Argentina, and moved to the US when I was 12. I am crazy about my dog Mica who has her own Instagram account. In my free time, I brew Kombucha and make fermented hot sauce. To do my personal part to create a more sustainable world, I started planting native California plants in my backyard to attract pollinators. I have caterpillars, butterflies, and bees everywhere!

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