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Learning the ropes at McKinsey

As a former business analyst, Jimmy mostly remembers the lovely team moments and that time he was escorted out of a store by cops.

What are you doing now?

I work at Instagram in Product Marketing. Specifically, I work on our Shopping team, which is Instagram’s (still fairly nascent) e–commerce play. My team is building a number of shopping destinations designed for people to browse, discover, and buy apparel and beauty products on Instagram without having to leave the app. In this role, I’m a bit of a Swiss Army knife; I work across the product development lifecycle. No two days are quite the same. Some days I spend with retail industry leaders translating their unmet needs into product visions. Others, I’m deep in the weeds with engineers, designers, and data scientists, ironing out product specs and evaluating products’ performance in the market. Or I’m leading product launches, including positioning, messaging, and press. It’s a lot of fun for someone who gets bored as easily as I do.

What do you miss most about your business analyst days?

I really miss the tight–knit BA community. In those days (fall of 2009), we were a small but mighty crew. We helped each other navigate the intense McKinsey learning curve, traded team room stories, and became fast friends. I have lots of fond memories planning connectivity events, too.

What do you miss least?

I remember those days really fondly so it’s a bit of a struggle to answer this one. I even have fond memories of a few late nights during which we pulled together to get some analysis across the finish line in time for a big presentation the next morning. I needed intensity in those days and I got so much out of being a BA at McKinsey. Going through some stressful experiences with colleagues cemented relationships in ways other jobs wouldn’t. I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

What skills that you learned as a business analyst do you still use?

I practice the structured and analytical thinking every day. At McKinsey, I learned to take in a lot of inputs, break them down into logical components, form a plan, and role it out with multiple stakeholders. Secondly, I learned how to really listen to people and tailor the way I talk / communicate / present based on their needs and motivations.

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What experience from your business analyst time still makes you smile?

At one point during my first study ever, we did store visits in New Jersey. I didn’t 100% understand how these worked, and I didn’t ask for help answering some basic questions; instead, I followed some flawed instincts and tried to go under the radar. I spent a few hours “browsing” the cosmetics section of a department store and chatting with other customers. In the end, I was asked to leave by security. This episode got back to senior clients and my team. I thought I’d never recover from my embarrassment, but I’m laughing about that one now.

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