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McKinsey at MAKERS 2018

Six colleagues participated in the MAKERS Conference in February. Share their experience through photos and videos.

Six of our colleagues participated in the 2018 MAKERS Conference in early February. MAKERS board member and McKinsey associate principal Whitney Gretz was joined by recruiter Judith and four leaders within our North American Operations practice who were recognized by MAKERS for their unwavering passion for mentorship and achieving gender parity (see photo and intros below). Here we take you inside the conference through their eyes. Learn what stories captured their hearts and inspired them; hear what ideas they’re bringing back to McKinsey to continue to make this one of the best places to work for everyone.

The honorees

  • Alison—an associate partner in DC who specializes in building organizational capabilities, has received the Shingo Prize and Marshall Scholarship, rows and jams to Shakira.
  • Jack—a University of Chicago Booth alum, partner, and new San Franciscan who loves kiteboarding. He led recruiting for our Operations practice in North America in 2016-17 and helped more than 2x as many women join the practice as in the two years before by setting bold aspirations, personally championing the effort, and engaging senior leaders directly to make it the priority.
  • Jodi—a partner in our Philadelphia office whose specialty is implementation. She cut her teeth at Strategy& and Lockheed Martin and is an alumna of University of Michigan.
  • Patricia—a senior expert—now McKinsey alum—who led our capital project optimization service line. She runs ultras and regularly indulges her family and friends with her culinary skills.

Day One

Everyone flew into sunny LA and the four award recipients prepped for their interviews.

Helllllooooo Hollywood!
Patricia putting on the glitz for the interview
The stage is set for session one
Jodi, Judith and Patricia are ready to raise their voices.
Jodi, Judith and Jack just minutes before the opening

The first session opened with a rousing welcome from MAKERS' founder and executive producer, Dyllan McGee. Then Ava DuVernay moderated a star-studded panel with Maha Dakhil, Rashida Jones, Melina Matsoukas, Katie McGrath, Natalie Portman, Nina Shaw, Jill Soloway and Tina Tchen. Some of our favorite quotes:

“Women workers on the farms are told their voices don’t count. Actresses are told they are elite and should not complain. Women at all levels have been told to keep quiet and we have. But it’s time to stop and ‘#RaiseYourVoice.’”

“Earlier movements haven’t worked because they’ve been too fragmented. We can all be part of #TimesUp because the problems effect everyone equally.”

Time’s Up panel moderated by Ava DuVernay

Then off to the Hollywood Palladium for dinner and a special performance by Lena Dunham, Amber Tamblyn, and Gabourey Sidibe, produced by Kathy Najimy.

Most of the McKinsey crew ready for a delightful dinner
Jack and Judith ready for the show

As the first day draws to a close, Whitney reflects on the speakers who inspired her.


Day Two

MAKERS had an amazing line up of accomplished, passionate, fierce speakers—women and a handful of men who have truly made a difference in the world. Many were firsts in their fields: the first female fighter jet pilot, the first black female state’s attorney in Cook County, the first woman to win an award for writing TV comedy, the first black woman to start a publishing company. Alison described, “What struck me was that the women on stage were the authors of their own lives. Their passion gave them the drive and the grit to get through the hard times, to persist when they were turned down or shut out, and to carry on when they felt alone or unsupported.”

McKinsey director emerita @Joanna Barsh challenges us to imagine a world without bias.

Joanna was Jack’s favorite:

Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam urges, “you’ll never win the game if you leave half the team on the ground.”
“You cannot have a movement in a vacuum and expect it to be successful. You have to work with others and be inclusive,” said Barbara Smith (right) to Gloria Steinem (left).

Author, activist, and park ranger Betty Reid Soskin is 96 years old and going strong. She described her incredible life of service. “I’m still having new experiences every day…Every hour has more meaning in my life. At my age it is not about months; it is about hours of life.” She went on to advise: “Every generation has to redefine democracy because democracy is never the same. We are in one of those periods where everything is up for grabs and we need to reshape what we want.”

Betty Reid Soskin
Gitanjali Rao, America’s Top Young Scientist of 2017, demonstrates the lead-detection device she built in response to the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

Jodi was particularly inspired by Gitanjali and Betty:


Karlie Kloss, a fashion model turned CEO of Shift7 described: “During the summer I had a little bit of time so I took a coding class…Learning how to code has been transformational for me.”

Karlie Kloss

And that was all before lunch. After a short break and bite to eat, our delegates saw McKinsey-LeanIn research presented by Rachel Thomas and hear McKinsey alumna Sheryl Sandberg launch #MentorHer.

MentorHer is a call to action, especially directed at men. Many of our McKinsey colleagues, including managing partner Dominic Barton, will double down their efforts to not only mentor but sponsor women, creating opportunities for them and helping them succeed. As Sheryl said at MAKERS, “This is a moment to get things right…to change the culture of complacency in a more institutional way, to eliminate biases, and to get more women into leadership roles. Pretending it is not happening in your company is the root of the problem.”

Rachel Thomas sharing key findings from Women in the Workplace, a joint Lean In – McKinsey effort
Sheryl Sandberg, Laphonza Butler, and David Smith on the importance of mentoring women

The main part of day 2 closed with a special performance by The Lethal Ladies of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women:

Judith and Jack crash the main stage at the end of day 2
We met Gloria Steinem and Violet Clair

We also had fun in a photo booth from The Bosco


Alison’s key takeaway from day two: one person really can make a big difference.


Day Three

Dawn broke on day three and our delegates explored societies’ obligation to share accurate information with Safiya Noble; re-wrote their own personal mission statements; and heard from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

View from the end of Alison’s 10k training run
Willow Bay interviews Safiya Noble about the importance of accurate and neutral information

Lisa McCarthy, founder and CEO of Fast Forward Group, led a vision writing session. She shared her motivation for changing her personal mission statement: “I asked my family, friends, and colleagues what they would put on my tombstone, and most people said ‘busy.’ That was not okay. I cannot have ‘busy’ on my tombstone. I had to radically change my behaviors and practice being the person I wanted described at my eulogy. I’ve worked my way up to ‘Overly fulfilled.’”

Lisa is working hard to live the life she wants to be remembered for

Kim Foxx, a state’s attorney for Cook County: “I am not exceptional. I have been given an exceptional responsibility to run the justice system. It needs to be run by people who behave like humans and whose justice reflects values.”

Kim Foxx, the first black female state’s attorney in Cook County
Closing remarks, live from New York

All of our delegates were moved by their experiences at MAKERS. They all came home energized and ready to raise their voices inside McKinsey and outside of it. Jodi shared:


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