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Good things come in threes

Geert, an Amsterdam–based associate, explains how he likes McKinsey after he started as an associate.

New things make me tick. I love working on new ideas, learning new things, opening new doors, meeting new people, and working in new environments.

I dedicated my early career to aerospace and airlines. After getting my master’s in aerospace engineering, I worked for six years at a large European airline group in operational and commercial roles and sought out new opportunities by moving roles and countries.

Although these experiences were valuable, I wanted to explore and accelerate my growth. After participating in a leadership training organized by McKinsey, I was convinced the firm could offer everything I wanted. But, leaving industry was a big step into the unknown.

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While deciding if I should apply to McKinsey, I asked myself: what are the risks? I’d be changing my career path but I’d keep in touch with my network. Perhaps the biggest risk was not knowing how McKinsey would suit me. What if I didn’t fit in or was unhappy with my choice. Still, working for McKinsey wouldn’t harm my future possibilities and, very likely, would improve them.

As I was considering McKinsey, I talked to my recruiter about three aspects – working style, variety, and development – and the firm’s approach to them convinced me to apply and join. I’m glad to say, the firm has delivered on them all:

1. Way of working – each time we kick off a new engagement, it almost feels like I’m starting a new job. I might have a new team, country, industry, client or challenge to solve. I build on my skills, my support network grows and I find the change exciting.
2. Variety of subjects – I can work for an airport or airline and this industry still fascinates me. I joined McKinsey, however, to discover other industries and ways of working. I can do a digital transformation for a bank, a market analysis for an oil & gas company, a turnaround for a consumer goods company, merger management in the steel industry, or due diligence for a private equity fund. I can truly say that the variety of topics is endless – exploring my next staffing opportunity each time feels like a being in a candy shop!
3. Focus on personal development – to grow, I need feedback, guidance and support. My leaders, peers and mentors are more than willing to give me feedback during a project, so I can continuously focus on my personal growth.

My last remark is about my family. I have a one–year old daughter. Although work–life balance can be challenging, I’ve been open and transparent about my needs and wishes. I’m currently on a three–week project in Vancouver. It perfectly matched my interests and development needs, so I really wanted to do it. Sometimes on short projects like this colleagues choose to spend a couple weekends overseas. For me, that wouldn’t work so we arranged my schedule for me to go home more during the project. The project has been great but challenging too as my wife has a demanding job as well. But it is a choice we made together and if it doesn’t work for me to do projects like this in the future, I know McKinsey will support me finding engagements closer to home.

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