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Changing my mind

Working at McKinsey allowed me to change mind and find my passion.

What I value most in my career at McKinsey is the freedom I have to change my mind, a lot. Armed with a business degree, I joined McKinsey right out of university to serve the world’s largest corporations on their toughest strategic challenges. I still remember how I was asked my first week whether I wanted to work on a project in oil & gas in Nigeria or the Dutch public sector. Nigeria sounded more exciting, and trust me, exciting it was.

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After a year, I was asked a similar question. This time, I decided to support a European university. The drive of the deans and professors to develop and educate others inspired me more than I had expected. It felt really rewarding helping them navigate the complicated stakeholder landscape filled with contradictory objectives. Meanwhile, I realized how we could really help them to succeed. I started to actively look for public sector projects to support. In the Netherlands, I helped a recently privatized healthcare insurer transition to a financially independent business model. In South Africa I improved worker morale in infrastructure construction.

When Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, I joined the McKinsey team to set up relief operations. However, I also realized that I missed the foundational understanding of public sector institutions. I left McKinsey on a development leave to study Public Administration at Columbia University in New York and work for the United Nations. I truly loved my new job, but I also realized that McKinsey offered me something unique: to continuously develop at a pace I could not find anywhere else. The projects we work on allow me to learn from new organizations, with new people, in new places and on totally different topics; all within the public sector.

Where else could I draft the economic priorities of a US state one month, support a Caribbean nation on emergency financial recovery another, and help European cities attract financing for urban development after that? Lately, I’ve started to focus on European transportation infrastructure. Reducing CO2 emissions from the transportation industry will be critical to achieving the Paris climate accords. Talk about a tough problem. Looking back, McKinsey has not only allowed me to change my mind many times, it has actually driven me to do so and continuously refine my passion. Who knows where it will take me next.

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