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What else is out there?

Mariana, an engagement manager in Bucharest, asked herself this question many times on her journey to McKinsey.

How did you end up in consulting?

I had been in consulting for a few years before joining McKinsey. When I started my first consulting job, I thought I would gain consulting experience, take the best of it, grow and move into industry. After a few years, I didn’t feel I had solved all the problems I could as a consultant. I believed I could still do more, and I could see a version of myself of whom I'd be more proud. This led me to apply to McKinsey and put my potential to the test.

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Did you know this career would be a good fit?

Consulting was a result of a long chain of trials and errors. Growing up, I didn’t have mentors in my social environment who could help me figure out educational choices or career options. I jumped on every opportunity I got – conferences, competitions, grants, scholarships; the topic was of secondary importance. I might have become a chemist if I had been more successful at chemistry contests back then. It turned out I was better at economics and finance. Similarly, with jobs I tried almost anything interesting that crossed my path. I worked in hospitality, inventory, sales operations, investment banking, and finally consulting.

Why did you stay in consulting?

I have a deep respect for businesses and business leaders, who fight day in and day out to ensure everyone's salaries are coming, the finances are healthy and customers are happy. It is so inspiring to meet passionate managers and play a part in their transformations and innovations which fuel livelihood for so many people.

How was it to join McKinsey as an experienced hire?

Moving to something completely different is certainly less comfortable than continuing at a job you know well. Nobody looks forward to being the rookie in the room again. However, it's necessary for experienced professionals to ask: "What else is out there? Is this industry or role all I can do?" At McKinsey, you can apply your skills to problems of exceptional scale – challenges that aren’t available in a standard career. When I joined the firm, I got ownership and responsibilities on day one but also a ton of support and mentorship from my colleagues.

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How do you balance your life with work as a consultant?

It's true; there are challenging days, but they aren’t continuous. If they were, we'd all burnt out! Rather, it’s about flexibility - being able to scale up and down your intensity depending on the need and context. I have gotten better at facing a challenging schedule, managing it well and then taking it slower at different times.

Find a role like Mariana’s

More about Mariana:

Mariana is an engagement manager in Bucharest. She joined McKinsey as an experienced consultant, previously working in life sciences. Mariana holds a Master's degree in Business Economics from University of Amsterdam (NL) and a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and Economics from Bocconi University (IT).

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