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From CTO of one to CTO advisor of many

When his work as a chief technology officer stopped challenging him, Gareth joined McKinsey and found renewed passion in counseling a variety of clients on complex, interesting technical problems.

My entire career has been in technology. I studied software engineering, and worked in software development, network system administration, and cybersecurity, before becoming the chief technology officer (CTO) for an education tech company. In that role, I built my team from four developers to fifty people, including designers, scrum masters – the whole shebang. I architected and designed the technology and ran the strategy.

After a while, I started to feel a bit stagnant in the CTO role. It wasn’t challenging anymore. I built a strong team that was autonomous, so there wasn’t much for me to do, other than provide direction.

I discovered McKinsey on LinkedIn. I had never heard of McKinsey and didn’t know management consulting was an industry. But, a senior expert in the McKinsey Singapore office encouraged me to apply. When my invitation to interview came, I remembered a mentor early in my career telling me, “Never say ‘no’ to an interview; you might make a friend or learn something.” So, I took the opportunity.

While McKinsey has a stellar reputation, it was ultimately the quality of the people I met during the interview process that really sold me on the firm. I respected them professionally and felt I could happily work with each one. To me it was a sign that I had found the best next step in my career.

Building expertise in the cloud

Earlier in my career, I moved away from software development because I didn’t enjoy writing code. I preferred solving infrastructure problems, so I moved in that direction.

Even before cloud, I was working on scaling websites, particularly with ecommerce and news portals. Cloud emerged as a way to provision infrastructure and made it easier to solve the scaling issues.

Besides, it was just incredibly cool. I didn’t need to drive to a server or a data center in the middle of the night to do installs anymore. I could press a button, and in a few minutes, I’d have a new server. I focused on cloud as much as I could, because it was interesting and beat spending hours in freezing cold data centers.

Family Perth
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My role as senior software cloud engineer

Large, slow-moving organizations look to McKinsey to help them implement agile as a software delivery process and adopt cloud wherever it makes sense in day-to-day infrastructure provisioning.

That’s where I come in. I am a management consultant who specializes in cloud technology and platform management. I analyze clients’ legacy systems and present a diagnostic to senior stakeholders in the company, including the CEO, board and other leaders. I present their application and integration landscape, existing architecture, and data and analytics capabilities. I then counsel them about steps to take to move forward with cloud adoption, including putting together a proper cloud strategy and a team to support it.

We do the heavy intellectual lifting, create the design, and make everything bulletproof so clients have a clear roadmap of where they need to go.

A CTO for many

I’m gravitating toward clients in the finance industry, but I’ve worked in insurance, retail, oil and gas, petrochemicals, healthcare, and other industries. In a sense, I still play the CTO role – but for many organizations instead of one.

For example, I worked on a project with a private health insurance company in Australia. They were experiencing a decline in their customer base because young people no longer viewed them as an exciting brand. It was an interesting challenge from a strategic perspective and they had many technology limitations. They were still using green screen CRT terminals to update customer records and much of their technology was from the ‘80s. They were still coding in COBOL, and they were finding it impossible to hire anyone with COBOL experience because they were all retiring.

They had some deep technology issues we had to solve. We rebuilt their entire technical architecture from top to bottom, including the website, product catalog, call center, and mobile app to bring their services online and improve their sales and marketing capabilities.

It was very successful. The board approved a huge investment for them, and they are in the process of executing the strategy we built. I just read they now have the highest-rated health insurance app in Australia.

Gareth in Motiongate Dubai 2018 with colleague Ben Goh
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The McKinsey difference

When I joined McKinsey, I already knew technology, but I wanted to learn more about counseling, influencing, and communicating with companies’ top-level executives. I wanted to understand how to execute a rigorous strategy. I have gained those skills here.

Clients call McKinsey because they have important, urgent, or complicated challenges. The level and variety of the projects on which we work and the scale of the positive improvements we can make can’t be matched.

If you want to be an expert in technology strategy and counseling, and you want to work on a variety of exciting and challenging technical problems, McKinsey is one of the best places in the world.

Find a role like Gareth’s

About Gareth

Gareth lives with his spouse and two children in Malaysia; he looks forward to when they can all travel again. In his spare time, he loves tinkering with remote control cars and sampling craft beers.