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McKinsey Q&A: Evan

– Evan, an associate in Atlanta, joined the firm about five months ago after a career in the U.S. government and Marine Corps. He reflects on similarities and differences between McKinsey and his first career and describes his transition into the firm. His favorite thing about McKinsey? The people – colleagues and clients.


Interviewer: Tell us about your path to McKinsey. Why did you join?

Evan: Prior to McKinsey, I worked in government – first in organizational management for the Department of Defense, then in the Marines as an infantry officer. After my second deployment, I started looking to rejoin the civilian world. I talked to everyone I could to determine where I might best fit, and almost universally heard that working for McKinsey would offer me unparalleled opportunities to learn about business. I wanted a job that focused on people and was intellectually rigorous. Consulting certainly fit that criteria. Ultimately, the people at McKinsey – the veterans who helped me prepare for my interviews and my interviewers – made me certain McKinsey was the best step for me.

Interviewer: Did your experience in the government and military help you to get off to a good start at McKinsey?

Evan: The traits people associate with military leaders – being goal driven, people oriented, hands-on problem solvers – are valued in the civilian world. Although there were deep gaps in my business knowledge when I joined (PowerPoint? I've slept through some of those things before...), I experienced far greater responsibilities and stresses as a combat leader. Those experiences gave me strengths I relied upon as I built my McKinsey toolkit.

Interviewer: What have you done for your client teams so far?

Evan: My favorite part of my role now is coaching my clients. Working one-on-one or in small groups enables me to build deep relationships and impact people on a professional and personal level. We may be walking through a presentation before a meeting or building a detailed analytic model to assess business changes – what matters is that we’re doing it together. This team work and comradery remind me most of the Marines.

Interviewer: What advice would you give to others joining McK?

Evan: Be prepared for a bit of a culture shock when you join your first team, and expect to find colleagues beside you to help you every step of the way. Starting with my first McKinsey team felt like joining my first unit after boot camp. I had little context or familiarity with the tasks I was being asked to do. I felt dependent on my team for everything from "where's the restroom" to "why didn’t you convert this number to Euros?" Fortunately, my colleagues are really understanding, friendly, and eager to help.