McKinsey Mentorship

I’m an associate partner in the Jakarta office (this photo is of me – in the middle – with four of my friends who are partners in the office during our year’s end party). My first real introduction to consulting and McKinsey came through the firm’s Insight in Science & Engineering program while I was working toward my Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Princeton. I left that workshop thinking two things: I love the way McKinsey solves big, challenging problems and I absolutely adore the people who work there. I connected really well with my future colleagues and some of the people I met during that program remain my close friends now nine years later.

Jessica inline
Jessica inline

I joined the firm in the New Jersey office and spent my first few years exploring – industries, functions, geographies, and people (and learning from their leadership styles). One of my most memorable projects was a due diligence for which I was the engagement manager. We had about two weeks to help our client company decide whether they wanted to bid to buy another company. The deadline was real: the CEO of our client organization booked a flight to meet with the CEO of the target company. I remember one of the senior clients tell me “all documents have to be sent before he boards the flight.” The target was a global organization with a diverse product portfolio. They were present in a large number of countries on four continents; each country had its own business model based on partnerships with different, local organizations. We set up teams in Asia, Africa and the U.S. so we could essentially work like a relay team. I’ll never forget the call I got from the senior McKinsey partner after the client’s CEO returned telling me “Thanks for all your hard work. They decided to place a bid.” It was so rewarding and exciting to have played a pivotal role in such a major decision and it was empowering to bring together the firm’s people and resources from literally around the world to make it all happen.

Since then, I’ve never stopped learning. I couldn’t have done any of it without the support of my mentors, who have helped me through so many different professional and personal situations. For example, my first project at McKinsey was facilitating a merger of two large companies. My engagement manager, Alexandria, made extra time to teach me – the person without a business background or any experience with consulting – everything I needed to know to be successful. She showed me how to break down the problems at hand, build effective slides, and present ideas to clients. More recently, when I was considering moving to Jakarta, a group of healthcare partners from the New Jersey and New York offices helped me think through the pros and cons. What I really appreciated was how they did it in such an objective way. They placed my excitement and needs above the office interests. They acted like mirrors helping me realize what I was thinking and feeling. My professional development manager has also been very good at helping me understand what makes me happy, and then finding opportunities that fit those parameters and help me to grow. As I advance, I’m finding I get to play that role for some of our newer consultants. It’s very rewarding.

Since I moved to Jakarta, I’ve had an amazing time. I’ve found a home in this very tight-knit and welcoming community. When I first arrived, every partner took the time to get to know me and offered their advice on how I could be successful in Indonesia. My colleagues are incredibly diverse, hungry to learn, caring and fun. I know we will remain friends well beyond our time at the firm.

In Jakarta, I’ve transitioned from doing 100% private sector healthcare work to serving private and public sector clients across multiple industries, including healthcare, consumer goods, and telecommunications. I continue to do a lot of marketing & sales and organizational work, which has a large emphasis on helping people build capabilities. One experience I’ll never forget is exchanging ideas with Indonesia’s Ministry of Health officials as we wrote a white paper on diabetes. Being in the middle of such a big national challenge was such a special feeling.

This November, I’ll be making a trip to the U.S. to meet students interested in working in Asia–Pacific. I’m really excited to share more about how McKinsey has affected me and my career. If you’re an MBA student in New York, Chicago, Philly, or Boston, check out the website about the event nearest you to learn more and apply to attend.

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