My journey at McKinsey is a true example of how you can pursue your passions within this firm. I started as an associate in the Middle East office. During my tenure as a consultant, my clients were focused on economic development and talent management across sectors. I enjoyed my engagements in people development most, but I never planned to make it my McKinsey journey. Then my office announced a vacancy for a new head of recruiting, and I thought ‘why not?’
After eight years as a consultant, I switched gears and started my chapter in the talent world. I’ve been doing it for five years, and I would do it all over again. Nothing brings me as much energy as interacting with people, especially candidates in the recruiting process. I am among the top interviewers in Dubai and the firm having completed more than 500 interviews. I love it.
The best people
For me, one of the things that differentiates McKinsey is the opportunity it provides for me to work with the best people who push me to be my best self. At every juncture in my career, I have been impressed by the level of care, mentorship, and sponsorship I’ve received, sometimes even without asking for it. It still bewilders me how, despite our scale, everyone is only one step away – one email, call or message to my colleagues and I have the information or assistance I need. We are one McKinsey in 60+ locations, not 60 different McKinseys.
Starting career in consulting
I studied computer engineering in my undergrad years, and despite being a top student at college, I had doubts if engineering would be the career that suited me most. I considered building a career in academia, so I pursued a degree in mathematics in parallel. It was not until 2006 that I realized consulting could be my thing. I was completing an engineering internship at a prominent telco operator in Canada. I remember sitting in my cubicle, starring at complex software architectures, while my manager hosted continuous meetings with business consultants to discuss feasibility studies and the business case for launching new, state-of-the-art products. I enjoyed listening in to those conversations. It was an eye-opener for me; there was a whole world beyond lines of code. By the time I ended my internship, I was dedicated to landing a role in consulting.
After working in consulting for six years at a different firm, I decided it was time to go back to school. My wife had just moved to a new country to be with me, but to complete my MBA at INSEAD, I had to fly to Singapore. My wife and I decided I would quit consulting and find a job that required less travel after I graduated. However, in the meantime, I applied to McKinsey and received an offer. I had to make a tough call to my wife, so I prepared some talking points. We agreed this would be a one-year stint as it would be good to have McKinsey on my resume. Now, more than six years later, I’m still here and we still laugh about that phone call.
Outside of work
Outside of work, my main interest is spending time with my family. I live with my wife and two children in Dubai. My youngest daughter is only a few weeks old! Despite the common perception that parenting in the virtual world is very challenging (and it is), for me, the benefits outweighed the challenges. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with family, sitting together for three meals a day, catching up on all the details of life. It also helps me be more efficient and organized in how I plan my weekdays and weekends to ensure I take care of my professional and personal responsibilities.
When I’m not with my family, I’m either doing my favorite sports – basketball or swimming – or I’m busy working on my currency collection as I’m an avid numismatist.
Hassan is a director of people functions for McKinsey Middle East and is based in Dubai. He studied computer engineering at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and later completed his MBA at INSEAD in Singapore. Before joining McKinsey, he had extensive experience in management consulting across the Middle East.