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McKinsey Q&A: Rachel


– Meet Rachel, our new recruiting manager in Johannesburg, a former member of our candidate relationship management team, and an aspiring photographer. Rachel recently moved to Africa from New York, so we asked her about the transition and how the firm supported her. If you’re interested in working abroad, don’t miss her perspective.

Interviewer: What led you to McKinsey?

Rachel: I worked in recruiting for many years and was looking for a new challenge. A childhood friend who was an engagement manager at McKinsey told me about openings in the recruiting department. The rest is history. Eleven years later, I’m still loving McK; I’ve worked on some pretty amazing things here – including creating and building a candidate engagement program and a new recruiting support system – but I really stay for the people. Cliché but true – they’re a dynamic, fun, special group who challenge me and make me laugh daily.

Interviewer: What prompted your move to Africa?

Rachel: I was ready to do something new and not quite sure what that would be, when an email arrived advertising this role in Johannesburg. It fit my criteria – working with a new team to help recruiters develop their skills, in a location outside the U.S., doing something to further my personal and professional growth.

Interviewer: How did the firm support your transition?

Rachel: I can’t describe how supportive McKinsey has been during my transition. My colleagues and the firm’s leadership unconditionally stood behind me as I worked through the transfer. They helped me thoughtfully step out of my previous role, prepare to make the most out of my 6-8 months in Africa and ultimately return to the U.S., learn a new culture, and find my way in a new continent.

Interviewer: What’s been the toughest part of your move?

Rachel: In all honesty – driving on the other side of the road and on the other side of the car. Work wise, while McKinsey’s African offices each have their own features and elements, the baseline for recruiting is the same across the firm. I’ve spent a lot of time listening and asking questions about local processes, challenges, etc. From there, I’ve shared new ideas, helped implement some quick wins, and started to build foundations for strategic improvements in the future.

Interviewer: What has been the most exciting part of your adventure so far?

Rachel: As a photographer, I’ve wanted to go on a game drive for years. It was THRILLING to finally see amazing and beautiful animals in their natural environment. And I took a wine tour outside of Cape Town that was perhaps not as exciting but also very beautiful.

Interviewer: What do you miss most about home?

Rachel: It’s harder to be there for my family and friends, although technology is helping bridge the distance. And I could really go for a great slice of pizza and a bagel. I am a born and bred New Yorker after all. Ask me again when NCAA basketball starts...

Read more about our African offices, celebrating 20 years in 2015.