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Take Time to play

Joelle describes how she combines her work at McKinsey Dubai with her passion for the theatre.

I’ve been involved in theatre for as long as I can remember. Since my first play at age six, there have only been a few stints when I was not actively acting, singing or dancing (or, on most days, doing all three).

When I joined McKinsey, my biggest concern was that the busy workdays would not leave time for my “second job.” I feared I wouldn’t be happy without performing to channel and foster my creative energy.

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I also firmly believed what I heard during recruiting: I could create my own McKinsey, drawing boundaries and chasing after balance and meaningful work. To join McKinsey, I moved from The United States to Dubai. I wanted to work with governments on their energy challenges, and there is no other place in the world feeling the pressing transition away from conventional energy as it’s felt in the Middle East. At work, I’m involved in our Global Energy and Materials practice, which is leading some of the most interesting work in the region. I’ve had the opportunity to work with governments on some of the most exciting renewable energy projects in the world, and help forge strategies to diversify economies in the GCC away from fossil fuels– the type of work I came to McKinsey to do.

Despite exciting developments on the work front, I knew I wouldn’t be happy without a creative outlet. Before my consulting career officially began, I enrolled in an acting course through a local community theater. The course got my foot in the door to the tight–knit Dubai theatre community, and I was back on stage by about my fourth month with the firm. Fast forward a year; now I am producing and performing a one–woman show on the same stage– in a piece that I wrote about climate change.

I have also found a group of creative types. Every August, the firm hosts the McKinsey Music Festival–a three–day jam session for firm members from around the world. I instantly connected with the other members of the acoustic band last year.

To further my interest in performing, I used McKinsey’s Take Time program this year to perform in a play in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Take Time allows consultants to take an extra 5-10 weeks off per year and pursue whatever’s important to them, like mountain climbing, writing, or volunteering.

It means a lot to me that the firm recognizes and celebrates its members and their many sources of meaning and that it gives us space to develop professionally and personally. I cannot imagine another place that would provide such amazing opportunities to its people and afford them so much choice in their own paths.

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More about Joelle

Joelle is a musical theatre actor and McKinsey associate from Cleveland, OH who currently lives in Dubai. She is passionate about climate change and travel. And is currently working on topics at the intersection of energy and government.