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McKinsey Q&A: Holger

– Holger studied technical mathematics and computer science in university in Germany and the US. He applied to McKinsey because a Google search presented the opportunity. Now, 10 years later, he’s a partner in Analytics in our Dusseldorf office who thrives on the variety and challenge of life at McKinsey.

Interviewer: Why did you apply to McKinsey?


Holger: Two weeks before I signed my contract, I’d never heard of McKinsey. I was Googling content that interested me, such as optimization, modeling, and machine learning. I came across a company called McKinsey that wanted to build up its German Analytics group.

Interviewer: What keeps you here?

Holger: Every year during the winter holiday break I ask myself this question. My wife and I have two young kids so naturally I sometimes question whether I’m achieving the right balance. In my very early days at McKinsey, I received good advice to regularly explore career options outside of the firm. Although the market is aggressively looking for profiles like mine, I always feel more assured in my decision to stay after considering other options. What keeps me here are my fun, smart, and motivated colleagues. I am working on important topics for clients and I get to see the transformational impact of my work.

Interviewer: Tell us about your typical day.

Holger: One of the best things about McKinsey is that a typical routine doesn't exist; the variety keeps me learning and energized. I am often heavily involved with one or two teams at a time, working on topics related to Advanced Analytics strategy, transformations, organizational design and capability building. I work across sectors (mainly in retail, telecommunications, and banking), themes (mainly commercial, but also predictive maintenance), and geographies (I’ve worked on every continent except South America). In one week, I might travel for two or three days, or I might spend every day in a different city. Recently, I spoke with 20 teams in five cities in one week. I spend most of the rest of my time scaling McKinsey’s Advanced Analytics efforts. I was the first analytic specialist the German office hired; since then, I’ve helped grow our German Analytics group, then our Marketing Analytics team, and now our Advanced Analytics practice. I help hire and train talent, define career paths, set strategic priorities, etc. – which has been lots of fun and very entrepreneurial.

Interviewer: What advice would you give others considering McKinsey?

Holger: McKinsey is an intense experience and the difference between what I put in and what I get out of it has always been hugely positive. I would never had expected how fast and how much I’d learn here. The McKinsey environment keeps pushing me from one curve to another, which I find quite addictive.

Interviewer: What are you passionate about outside of work?

Holger: Above all, my kids and my wife. Then watching soccer, working out, and doing things around our house and garden.