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The discovery trail

Before joining McKinsey, Mikolaj cycled from Vietnam to Poland through 18 countries, covering 15000 km in 6 months. He traveled across Southeast Asia, Southern Asia, Central Asian mountains and deserts, Caucasus and Central Europe.

I worked very hard in school to explore different career paths and choose my direction. One year before graduation, I promised myself before my first full time job, I would take a break and go on a long trip. As a biking enthusiast who also wanted to visit Asia, the idea of cycling across this continent came naturally. After graduation, I interviewed, received an offer and McKinsey agreed to postpone my start date for almost a year to allow me to keep my promise.

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Due to weather and visa constraints, I had a change of plans. I took a flight to Vietnam and came back by bike. It was 15000km across 18 different countries: touristic South–East Asia, densely populated India and Nepal, mountainous Karakorum and Pamir Highways, Uzbek and Kazakh deserts, Caucasus and Central Europe. Diversity motivated me to keep exploring. I moved from sunny Cambodia to snowy China, from high mountains with the pass at +4715masl in Pakistan to vast plains with the lowest point at –116 masl in Kazakhstan, from Buddhist Thailand to Muslim Tajikistan. It was a great experience, but also a great effort. From the beginning, I made sure I would meet my distance and height goals every day. After four months, I could cover 472km within 25 hours by almost non–stop pedaling through the deserts of Mangystau region. However, it would not have been such a great experience without the many kind people I met: Thai monks who hosted me in their temple, Pakistani police who very warmly welcomed me to their country, Chinese workers who invited me to their yurt on the coldest night of the trip.

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I came back to Poland after six months and joined the firm in September. I am currently preparing for cycling ultramarathons in Poland. Working in consulting is demanding, but McKinsey helps me maintain a good work–cycling–life balance. My managers and I plan the project workload, so I can have two to three training sessions during the week. On the weekend I take long trips. People with passion are truly welcome at McKinsey.

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