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McKinsey Q&A: Leila


– Leila, an engagement manager with our Business Technology Office in London, loves adventuring. Before coming to McKinsey, she earned her PhD in Electronic Engineering from Imperial College London and served as the chief technology officer for DNA Electronics, a medical device manufacturing company she co-founded. Along the way, she cycled the Amalfi Coast and sea-kayaked the outer islands of the Bahamas.

Interviewer: Why did you apply to McKinsey?

Leila: I love challenges, adventures and people, so the opportunity to solve complex, high-impact problems in a variety of industries, with outstanding colleagues, really appealed to me. The energy and buzz I get from my team members – the humility of my colleagues and gratitude of my clients – and the development I’ve experienced at McKinsey keeps me here.

Interviewer: Prior to joining McKinsey, you started a company – a medical device manufacturer. Did your experience as an entrepreneur help you at McKinsey?

Leila: Absolutely. Starting a business taught me to approach problem-solving creatively and pragmatically. My clients, within the medical sector and outside of it, appreciate my experience because I understand what it takes to run a business, especially how important people are to making processes work.

Interviewer: What was your most memorable engagement at the firm?

Leila: One engagement stands out for me – it was my most fun and most challenging experience at the firm. My team was helping a client improve its procurement practices (e.g., how it negotiated with its suppliers). I was one of three associates, and we each had a client team to coach. Three things made it memorable: the impact, the people, and the learning. We helped the client achieve prices lower than they believed possible. My team’s leaders each had very different styles but came together in a way that helped us all perform even better than we thought we could. And, I learned a great deal about the function, industry and the McKinsey problem solving and analytical approach. I left that engagement feeling quite inspired and much more confident about my ability to succeed at McKinsey.

Interviewer: How do you spend your time outside of client work?

Leila: I’m involved in the women’s initiative within our Business Technology Office. We regularly organise events to bring our supportive community together. I’m an adventurer, too. I’ve run across Scotland, cycled the Amalfi Coast and sea-kayaked the Bahamas outer-islands over the last few years. Now, I’m a mum of a one-month old daughter, and I feel I’ve just embarked on the greatest adventure of my life…