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Solving the toughest challenges with the McKinsey toolkit

Inji did not know how her PhD in engineering would apply to a career in consulting until she met McKinsey.

If you are based in North America, and are interested in working in Asia, apply for Global Connect: Meet McKinsey Asia. We’re hosting two sessions of this virtual session. Participate in one or both: South Korea (September 1) or Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka (September 3).

Meeting McKinsey

As a student, I was curious about a career in consulting but I did not know how my engineering background could or how to prepare for the case interviews. Luckily, during my PhD at Oxford, I participated in a three-day McKinsey event in Kitzbuhel, Austria. I networked with other graduate students and consultants and learned that a deep understanding of business and financial concepts was not necessary to become a consultant. Solving a case required conceptual, analytical and quantitative skills—all of which PhD students have.

Experiencing the firm’s values

Of the many values McKinsey shared over the three days, creating an unrivaled environment for exceptional people stood out the most. During the group case exercise, I realized the McKinsey consultants who served as faculty genuinely wanted every person to succeed. Their support and coaching gave me the confidence to tackle the tough questions from the case and present our findings in front of a group of people I had only just met. The program helped me realize McKinsey was the firm I wanted to join. 

Pursuing passions and exploring new challenges

I was delighted to receive an offer to join McKinsey full-time upon finishing my degree. Since joining the firm, I have maintained my passion for science by working with chemical and semiconductor clients on issues like making a particular polymer composite—taking me back to reviewing patents during my PhD days—and looking into process technology.  

Additionally, with the support of mentors and colleagues I have expanded my knowledge into new exciting areas, such as Operations. One of the merits of operations is it is very hands on; you get to work closely with the client. If strategy is understanding the big picture, operations is understanding the daily life of the company.  I have worked with clients to solve some of the toughest problems related to procurement and supply chain management. Through one nine-month project, I developed expertise in procurement approaches and digital sourcing. The support and endless opportunities to solve some of the most difficult challenges and learn new things are what keep me excited to be at McKinsey. 

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