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One step at a time with Melvin

Melvin took a longer and more fulfilling route to McKinsey and his current role as associate partner

Some people plan their lives years in advance. They know what they want to accomplish, what steps they should take to get there, and who they would like to join them on their journey. Melvin prefers to live life one step at a time. It’s an approach that’s always worked for him – even when making major decisions, like choosing a career path.

“I basically asked a complete stranger on the bus what I should do with my life,” he said. “I did give her a couple of options, one of which was a physician. She liked that, and I did, too - medicine sounded like an interesting topic.”

Before joining McKinsey London in 2016, Melvin worked in neurosurgery and intensive care, as an academic physician at Oxford University. But the UK was only one of many international locations Melvin has called home. As someone with a lifelong thirst for knowledge and an innovative spirit, Melvin has always been committed to letting curiosity lead the way. Since childhood, he has surrounded himself with opportunities to challenge himself and achieve new levels of success.

Melvin with London colleagues
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International Impact

Born in Nigeria and moving to the Middle East at an early age, Melvin learned about the importance of diversity and finding your path within various cultures. After spending 15 years in London, Melvin spent nearly nine months in South Africa before moving to New York City. His move to the U.S. was driven by excitement about the healthcare innovation happening in the States and a desire to work more closely with his American sponsors.

Little did he know he’d arrive in New York City on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working in healthcare, the pandemic presented an interesting opportunity for Melvin to put together everything he’d learned as an academic, clinician, and entrepreneur.

“One of the great things about healthcare is that you’re never too far away from making a difference for patients,” he reflects. “Over the past 18 months, McKinsey has focused on advancing health equity. We spend a lot of time helping organizations think about their strategy for marginalized populations including women and people of color. I want to do even more to serve these populations.”
McKinsey Black Colleagues celebrating Black History Month
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Melvin has always been passionate about reaching underserved communities through his work, but how he has done that has evolved as he continued to explore new pathways and remained curious. From mentoring underrepresented students to founding a health access focused startup in Nigeria to leading initiatives within the McKinsey Black Network, he places philanthropy and community at the forefront of his work. Though he didn’t anticipate working in the corporate world, the transition ended up feeling very natural the more he learned about McKinsey’s focus areas.

“The idea of switching from a healthcare clinical practice to something more business focused didn’t cross my mind at first,” he said. “I didn’t know many people who had done something similar with my experience. But it doesn’t matter what your background is. As long as you are excited about something, you can do it.”

A sweet spot at the intersection of healthcare and consulting

Melvin was in medical school when the 2008 financial crisis hit. This was an important turning point in his career that helped him explore new interests and understand how helpful a foundation in business could be. His innate curiosity led to an internship in Morgan Stanley’s fixed income trading division that opened his eyes to a world outside of healthcare.

During that time, he learned how to structure and trade interest rate products and gained a perspective on the ways the financial sector dramatically influences peoples’ lives and well-being. 

After his internship, Melvin returned to the world of education at Oxford University, where he spent three years teaching and leading research. In 2013, he started a medical technology company that created an algorithm to triage symptoms and provide self-management options and referral pathways for patients with limited healthcare access in low resource settings. Impactful as that system was, the company faced obstacles he felt could have been resolved if he had more business acumen.

“I came across a bunch of challenges,” he explained. “One of the things that crossed my mind at the time was: if I knew more about how well performing businesses are run, I would be more successful with this company.”

When he applied to McKinsey and through his various transitions, he has frequently been unsure about how he would fit into different business cultures . “At the startI had pretty limited business experience,” he said. “Most of my prior experience was clinical work. The move to the U.S. was also pretty challenging for me. I had to rebuild my network from scratchscratch, and we have all been dealing with the pandemic in parallel.”

While at the firm, Melvin has been intimately involved with the McKinsey Black Network. He has fond memories of international WhatsApp groups, conferences, and conversations he’s had with Black colleagues, and credits the people around him as part of why he’s been at McKinsey for more than five years.

“I really thought I’d be here for 18 months, two years max,” he said. “Part of the reason I’ve stayed here is the opportunity to do new things and travel. I’m constantly renewing myself and learning new things. But the second [reason] to stay is the people. The people here make the hard work worthwhile. I’ve always seen my fellow Black Network members as a family and social support network.”

How to thrive at McKinsey

Over the past few years, Melvin has mentored and supported many new hires the same way he was supported when he joined McKinsey. To anybody who just joined McKinsey (or is in the midst of applying), he shares this advice:

“Never believe you’re a hiring mistake. I see that perspective a lot, and it can end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Melvin says. “If you’ve made it here, you are a huge success. Believe in the reason you were hired. And remember you are worthy and can shape your path for yourself.”

Moving forward, one step at a time

Melvin benefits from his fine balance of spontaneity and diligent planning that permeates every aspect of his life, from his daily hobbies to his well-rounded career. So what’s next for a man who has already done so much?

“I think about my life in six-month increments,” Melvin says. “I’ll probably live in New York for a while, but I am going to take it one month at a time. I don’t exactly know what’s going to happen next but I’m excited to see.”

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