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Finding my safe space

Iko started his career as a consultant and his passion for diversity and people led him to professional development. Learn how he shaped his journey at the firm as a part of the McKinsey Black Network.

I was born in São Miguel, a small island in Portugal. My desire to help others and get educated took me across the globe. I majored in business administration at Lancaster University in the UK and I spent an exchange semester at HEC Montreal. Since university, I wanted a job that would help me develop more skills and knowledge and help me contribute to making the world a better place.

My work as a consultant

Finding my safe space
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I joined McKinsey because it seemed like the most influential organization in the industry. It has a rich history and is deeply connected to the world of business, so I knew I would have exposure to different industries and high-quality training.

Once I started, I quickly developed a consultant toolkit that includes data analysis, problem-solving, and communications skills.

One of my most exciting engagements was helping build a toolkit for country officials responding to COVID-19 in the education sector. I worked with colleagues in the US, Switzerland, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates and educational officials from numerous countries. Our clients were engaged, and the topic excited us all because it was so relevant.

Finding my place in McKinsey’s Black Network

When I joined the firm, I didn’t know there was a network of Black colleagues at McKinsey, and I learned about it after the killing of George Floyd in 2020. While the McKinsey Black Network is 25+ years old, our leaders used this moment to thoughtfully create a safe space to help us process the event and emotions stirred up from it. I found it helpful to know what McKinsey’s stance is and to see the actions the firm committed to take.

I have since joined the McKinsey Black Network (MBN). I’ve participated in numerous workshops, including external speaker sessions that explored the reality of being Black in today’s society and internal workshops that helped Black colleagues overcome obstacles and continue thriving – for example, by addressing how to receive feedback, proactively build a network, etc.

I soon realized the space created by this network would help me find my voice in the firm. During one of the sessions following George Floyd’s murder, more than 200 colleagues, including our former global managing partner, Kevin Sneader, and the Black Network leadership, gathered. All of a sudden, the person chairing the meeting asked me what my thoughts were about the recent events and what my experience had been. I was caught off-guard; I never imagined having space in such a forum to share my raw, personal experience. I was mind-blown by my supportive colleagues as they shared words of support in the chat and in personal e-mails afterward.

Shortly after, I was invited to one of Kevin’s weekly Fireside Chats, during which he interviewed McKinsey colleagues about their lives and their time at the firm. I shared my experience on volunteering in Israel and my sense of purpose.

Carving my path while following my passions

During this time, I found my true passion in people and moved from a consulting role to professional development, within People and Human Resources.

Before my transition, I had an open conversation with my future managers about the scope of the role and where I saw myself. I also used McKinsey’s professional coaching services to make sure I was making the right decision for me.

Now, as professional development coordinator, I look after consultants. My experience helps me be at my best, whether I’m supporting new joiners with onboarding, managing our office-driven staffing process, or helping others deal with personal circumstances or difficulties on a project. I ensure our colleagues are getting the right mentorship and are connected to people who support their growth. I also help ensure our office continues to develop, excite, and retain exceptional people while delivering the best service to our clients. Now, I’m learning a different skillset that includes mental health, one-on-one counselling, office and stakeholder management, mobilization, and more.

Giving back to communities

Helping others has a special place in my heart. After high school, I moved to Haifa, Israel for about two years to volunteer at the Bahá’í World Centre. I was a member of the security department, so I helped create conditions for thousands of people annually to visit the Bahá’í holy places and surrounding gardens, considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the first time I saw being different was celebrated, not only tolerated. It shaped me and the way I think about diversity.

Today, I dedicate time to pro-bono work as a part of the firm. I recently proposed a project to help an NGO improve the student and staff experience of its schools by transforming their culture, procedures and use of data.

I’m very proud to have been one of McKinsey’s 12 delegates to the One Young World Summit in 2021. It convened young people from every country and sector to accelerate social impact. The event was inspiring and I look forward to implementing efforts on sustainability and giving back in our locations after participating in this inspiring event.

Find roles like Iko’s

More about Iko

Outside of work, I spend time with family and friends. I’m a basketball and football lover, and a fan of computer gaming (especially, Age of Empires 2). I enjoy reading the news and listening to podcasts. I love exploring anything related to philosophy, religion, politics and business, and their intersection.

I’m involved in the educational efforts of the Bahá’í community through participating and facilitating courses of two organizations: the Ruhi Institute – which helps individuals improve the material, social, cultural and spiritual dimensions of their community – and the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity – which encourages individuals to advance thought and practice in their academic and professional lives.