You might not realize it, but there are many options for career paths within McKinsey. Gareth, the head of Professional Development (PD) for our UK, Ireland, and Israel offices, followed his passion for coaching others and developing large organizations from pathology to hospital management, healthcare consulting, and now professional development.
My start in healthcare
I started my career as a clinical scientist or pathologist in the UK National Health Service (NHS). My dad was a family doctor and healthcare was what I knew and what I had seen growing up. Anyone who’s lived in the UK knows the NHS is a national religion; I saw my whole career unfolding there.
However, as time moved on, I wanted to make a bigger difference beyond the lab. I moved into a hospital manager role and loved it for a time. I felt energized leading a whole organization and helping the staff to learn, grow, and develop.
After a while, cost improvement planning took its toll. A mutual acquaintance introduced me to former McKinsey partner, John Drew. He convinced me McKinsey was different than some of the other consultancies I’d come across in the NHS. The well-rounded view of impact that drove the firm appealed to me, so I applied.
The next chapter: healthcare consulting
After 12 years in the lab and hospital, I joined McKinsey as healthcare specialist in London. Over the course of the next four years, I learned more about leading teams and effecting change than I had in my whole career. I advanced to expert, also called engagement manager, and served mostly healthcare clients on operational topics. What really motivated me, however, was seeing whole organizations work better together. I loved coaching my clients, helping them learn the skills and techniques to effectively lead their teams and deliver higher quality care to patients. As I progressed at the firm, I really enjoyed coaching colleagues, managing the work on our teams, and teaching associates and business analysts how to succeed.
Finding my home at the firm
After about four years of serving clients, I felt ready for a change personally and professionally. With three children at home, I wanted to travel less. I also wanted to spend more time helping others become their best selves. I approached Michael Edwards, the head of People in the UK and Ireland, for guidance. Michael helped create a rotation for me as his chief of staff.
Working with Michael in our People function, I did a mix of operational work and strategic project management. For example, I led a global project on integrating new hires who join with several years of professional experience (like I did!). I also led a team that helped us respond to the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. I loved seeing how our firm worked as an organization.
As my rotation with Michael was ending, a role on our Professional Development (PD) team opened. This was a way for me to amplify the personal impact I’d had as a consultant. In PD, I could coach individual consultants on their career development and work with partners to staff the best people to help our clients grow and improve.
Now, as the head of PD for the UK, Ireland, and Israel offices, I’ve found my home. I’m back to running something big, like the hospital, and I can have those 1:1 coaching relationships too. I’m helping clients get better at what they do by putting together the right teams of consultants to support them. I’m coaching colleagues through their transitions into McKinsey, their ongoing learning journeys, and their overall progression at the firm.
(Note, you can learn more about staffing here).
One of the things we may fail to mention enough is just how many options and pathways there are within McKinsey. It’s not just the traditional consulting path anymore. You don’t have to come in as an associate and progress through to partner. You can, of course, still take that route, but you can also choose different paths. You might join a People function like HR, Recruiting, or Professional Development, or you specialize in something like healthcare, operations, or tech. It’s exciting to guide consultants as they explore these options and become the best possible versions of themselves.
McKinsey is a great place to work, and – I’m biased – Professional Development is a special community within the firm. It’s hard work, but the warmth, enthusiasm, and thoughtfulness of my teammates and colleagues makes me absolutely love my job.
More about Gareth
I’m originally from beautiful North West Wales and now live in a small town outside London with my wife and three children. I’m an avid Welsh Rugby fan and am a music obsessive, albeit approaching 40 looking backward more than I am keeping up with new releases.