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Finding my family

Pauline joined us as a designer in Paris, and has since transferred to our Moscow office, where she’s found her place facilitating digital transformations focused on design and customer experience.

Before I met McKinsey, I thought I was done with consulting. I was a designer at a French consultancy before this, and I wasn’t familiar McKinsey when someone from London reached to me. She contacted me in English–this was when my English was rusty–and I initially accepted the interview to practice.

I had an interview with an incredible recruiter who was very open about the process, and through my interview experience, I connected with designers all over the world. What helped me to make my decision to stay in consulting and join McKinsey was that everyone I met was so transparent and nice.

I saw a desire to help generalist consultants and specialists, like myself, work better together, and thought to myself that I would love to be part of that culture. Another motivation was the opportunity to travel. Once I joined McKinsey’s Paris office, I spent a year and a half traveling the world, and eventually transferred to the Moscow office.

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The way we work

McKinsey is great at helping people at the top of our client’s organizations hear people across their organization. In design, we focus on facilitating transformations that prioritize the customer, which brings a lot of value to what we do.

The first part of a project is cracking the case–customer interviews, identifying pain points, ideating around the product’s customer value proposition, and prioritizing our focus areas. Next is capability building, which involves coaching the client on hiring digital talent, and making sure they’re working in the right way.

For example, on one of my favorite projects we built a digital factory for a large bank in the Middle East. It was challenging because the bank’s mobile application was developed by a foreign vendor, and no one in the bank had access to the code. So, we built a new development team, hired designers, product owners and developers to build a new app for the client. We spent three months working side-by-side with the client’s team, and launched a digital service application that helped the client differentiate itself from competitors and attract a new segment of customers.

McKinsey’s network really helps our projects stand out. Whatever challenge you’re facing, you’re almost sure to find someone in the firm who can help you. For example, I was on a project where we were creating a dashboard, and the client was having a tough experience working with the designer they recently hired. In order to meet our delivery deadline, we brought in a McKinsey designer who quickly jumped into the project and helped us deliver the interface in time for the development team to start working on it. We also worked closely with the client’s designer to coach him on workload management, helping him ensure consistent, on-time delivery once McKinsey handed over the project.

On a personal level, I appreciate that my managers go the extra mile to make work comfortable. We talk a lot about our preferences in our ways of working. For example, I don’t appreciate very direct feedback, and when people aren’t considering others’ feelings. I try to share this in the beginning of my projects, and it’s always respected by the team. This is something I appreciate that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

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Making a big move

We don’t have too many Russian-speaking designers at the firm. When I was in Paris I was consistently being pulled in to projects in Russia, so when the Moscow office was looking for a designer, the move just made sense.

I transferred to Moscow just before COVID-19 lockdowns went into place. I was nervous in the beginning because I liked my life in Paris, but the team was so kind and supportive that it was a smooth transition.

My transfer ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made. I like the teams, projects, and leadership in Moscow, and culturally, the market is ready for digital and design. The firm’s leadership in Moscow is ready to explore new solutions, and it feels great to work with a team that values my expertise.

I feel supported in my professional development, and I feel part of a team. I found my family.

Advice for candidates

Spend time thinking about what life will look like here. You’ll meet a lot of people through your interviews, but try to talk to as many people as you can outside of the process as well. Once you accept an offer, find someone you can talk to easily who can help you navigate the firm. McKinsey is so specific, and some designers can struggle while they integrate, so don’t be shy about asking for guidance. Everyone here wants you to succeed.

People think McKinsey is like a vendor, but we’re more like doctors, or therapists. We’re not there for the client to tell us what to do, we work with them to find a solution. This is what I value the most.

For me, McKinsey was the first place I’ve found my work to be even more exciting and challenging as time goes on. I can envision my future and see myself growing here.

Find a job like Pauline's

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About Pauline

Pauline is a designer in Moscow. Prior to joining McKinsey, she was a product designer at French consulting firm Saegus. Pauline has a master’s in computer science from the University of Maine.

For more information on McKinsey's design career paths, visit