When I re-joined McKinsey as an associate in Shanghai in 2017 after my summer internship in 2016, I thought I knew what to expect. However, there was one big mystery: how would I successfully transition to the next role up, engagement manager?
After I’d been back for about 14 months, I embarked on my first experience in the role of engagement manager with great excitement and nervousness. I was truly moved by how much trust and support I received throughout this journey.
My team was helping a global pharmaceutical company digitally transform one of its business units in China during an 18-week-long engagement. The challenges came from multiple fronts. We were working with more than 40 client stakeholders from 10+ departments, some local, some global. In addition, I needed to manage a large team with traditional strategists and colleagues focused on design and analytics.
Partners and associate partners on the team coached me extensively during the first four weeks, until I fully grew into the engagement manager role. They gave me input on content like suggesting changes to how we presented information to our clients and spent considerable time patiently coaching me on how to better interact with our clients, manage the day-to-day of the project, and lead the team.
My more junior-tenured teammates fully supported my transition by sharing feedback in an open and honest manner on my strengths and areas for improvement. We held each other accountable for our team norms, which are rules we establish at the beginning of an engagement to help us all be at our best. When I got lazy on my gym days and was about to skip class, I received reminders from my team and then felt more motivated to go.
Colleagues I worked with on other clients also reached out to help me make the transition to engagement manager. One sent me a playbook on how to master engagement manager skills and another offered me valuable tips on managing upward.
Colleagues often say one of the reasons they stay at the firm is the people. As I embark on my third year and look back on my experiences, I grow fonder of the caring, inspiring, brilliant, and fun people around me. The best is yet to come.
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