My chance to help save polar bears

My journey to a career in sustainability starts with polar bears, which are my favorite animal. So much so that in 2017, I went to Churchill Canada, the capital of polar bears, to see them in their true habitat. Polar bears are a threatened species, largely because of habitat loss and reduced access to their seal prey due to climate change. Scientists predict that as the Arctic continues to warm, two-thirds of the world’s polar bears could disappear within this century.

I’ve spent much of life wondering “What can I do to protect polar bears?”

Shifting career paths toward sustainability

When I joined McKinsey in 2018, I was a risk management expert with 10 years’ experience building credit risk models to identify potential non-performing loans for financial institutions. I started at the firm as a risk management expert in banking, a far cry from sustainability work.

After being inspired by China’s 2060 net-zero commitment, in September 2020, a team of colleagues who were truly passionate about sustainability developed a decarbonization narrative to help the country speed up the entire effort and set stakeholders up for success.

The firm offered knowledge and perspectives on six hard-to-abate sectors, such as steel, coal, chemical, cement, oil and gas, and power, as well as optimization pathways and solutions.

I expressed my desire to join the initiative, and even though I didn’t have much experience, my passion made up for it. I joined the sustainability growth platform in the Greater China Region, to contribute to China decarbonization—and, I believe, to help save polar bears.

Work that gets results

The firm as a whole is doing so much in sustainability and, on a personal level, I feel my work can have a real, lasting impact on the environment.

In March 2021, I joined a team of six as the engagement manager to deliver strategic planning to a leading technology company in China. We helped the company calculate a carbon emission baseline, set up net-zero targets, identify decarbonization levers, and scan future green investment themes. We worked alongside the company’s founder, global experts, and colleagues and put plans in place that will affect real change.

Now, I’m exploring how to accelerate aggressive climate target setting and push for decarbonization actions.

Making my own McKinsey

Because of McKinsey, I took my experience and transitioned to a rewarding career I am passionate about. I’ve received so much support by my sponsoring partners, mentors, and friends here. And most important, I’m surrounded by a group of excellent people who share a common goal: protecting the planet.

Find a role like Monica’s

More about Monica

Monica is an expert in the Beijing office. She holds an MBA in finance from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. At McKinsey, Monica’s work focuses on the banking and securities and global energy and materials sectors.

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