Saving lives as a data scientist

I love data. Specifically, I love the power data gives us to test hypotheses and make informed decisions. I get great satisfaction from personally handling the tools that can manipulate billions of rows of data.

At McKinsey, I dove head first into using data to help solve meaningful, challenging healthcare problems.

Boundless learning

Before McKinsey I was in business administration and finance, so when I initially joined as an analyst, I didn’t have all the technical skills for a data science role. However, my incredibly supportive managers and colleagues helped me quickly gain the experience I needed in SQL, Tableau, and ETL to perform at my best. They assigned me to projects that required the new skills I wanted to learn, and my team generously took time to train me.

Now, I’m leading healthcare data workstreams from start to finish: scoping out a data need, writing the query and completing the process through extracting the data. Then I analyze the data and shape the final output. In the process, I use a plethora of tech platforms and languages, including SQL, Apache Hive, AWS, Tableau, and Alteryx–all of which I have learned since joining McKinsey.


Better patient care through data

I’m currently working on an exciting healthcare project aimed at improving care for surgery patients. We’re analyzing data sets to identify procedures that could be done in an ambulatory or outpatient setting rather than a hospital or inpatient setting. This shift would be less stressful–and less costly–for patients.

We’re running our analytics through healthcare databases, looking at a range of variables: high risk vs. healthy patients, Medicare vs. commercial insurance, and all types of procedures–even cardiac surgeries.

The results can influence how and where people are treated and has the potential to save lives all through advanced analytics. It’s incredibly inspiring, meaningful work.

Advice for recruits

Data scientists considering a role at McKinsey shouldn’t be afraid to ask for opportunities beyond the scope of a traditional data science role.

Consultants interested in picking up data manipulation skills beyond Excel can do so. Data engineers who want to be involved in data analysis can go for it. It never ceases to amaze me how supportive McKinsey teams are in helping make your professional and personal aspirations happen.

Outside of work

I love splitting my free time between travelling and staying at home. It’s great to discover new places, but there is nothing better than enjoying a home cooked meal in my backyard with family (and yes, that includes the dog).

I’m living in Costa Rica after re–locating here from Germany five years ago, and I’m on the hunt to find the most beautiful beach in this gorgeous country. If you’ve never been here, you must visit.

Find a job like Elis’s

About Elis

Based in San José, Costa Rica, Elis is a data scientist specializing in the healthcare industry. Prior to her current role, she was a McKinsey research analyst. Elis holds a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s in financial management and Chinese studies from Trier University in Germany.

For more information on McKinsey’s data science career paths, visit

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