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From British Army to McKinsey consultant

Now a junior associate in London, Richard is navigating McKinsey – virtual onboarding and training, joining the GLAM network, diverse client work and more

We sat down with Richard, a new junior associate based in London, to learn why he transitioned from the military to McKinsey and what has inspired and surprised him most so far.

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What’s your best moment in GLAM?

I joined the London office on 2 March 2020, just weeks before the COVID-19 lockdown began. I have not yet been to events such as our bi-annual global GLAM conference or marching in the London Pride parade. However, the GLAM network has organized numerous Zoom events, including my favorite which celebrated GLAM’s 25th anniversary. We were joined by one of GLAM’s founding members, Jack Stephenson, who really pushed the boundaries of LGBTQ+ awareness at a time when it was not commonplace and often stigmatized. To hear from members of our global McKinsey community who were encouraged to make similar progress in more unlikely countries inspired me to organize an event entitled “Living on the Frontiers of LGBTQ+ Rights” for the UK office GLAM network on 30th June.

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From British Army to McKinsey consultant

After finishing postgraduate studies in London, I decided to become an economist in the UK Civil Service, working on policy development with teams across government. After two years in an office setting, I was craving adventure that would test and challenge me. That led me to the British Army in which I become an officer and tank commander. The next five years, I lived in Germany and Canada and worked with some wonderful and inspiring people.

I loved the military. I was comfortable there and I enjoyed my work and the camaraderie. The decision to leave was difficult and nerve-wracking. I ultimately resigned my commission to pursue another intense learning curve that would allow me to blend the analytical skills I gained as an economist with the leadership and management experience I built in the military. After considering a range of potential career paths including asset management and advanced analytics, I realized strategy consulting at McKinsey in particular, would provide me with the variety of work and ongoing learning I sought.

Why I joined McKinsey

McKinsey stood out to me because of the diverse backgrounds of its people, which I discovered through coffee chats with current consultants. It is an incredible community of very talented people who are fun to be around, engaging and always willing to help and support each other. In many ways, it is similar to the close-knit community in the British Army, which was a very pleasant surprise.

McKinsey offers new joiners unparalleled opportunities to build knowledge and expertise across the private and public sectors. Unlike many other firms I interviewed with, McKinsey committed to staffing me on client engagements in areas that matched my background, such as defense and the public sector. At the same time, McKinsey enables me to pursue passions in almost any sector. In my first three months, I have already worked on an advanced analytics machine learning transformation with an energy company and an efficiency effort for a large European urban transport organization. The learning curve is steep and intense, just as I wanted, and the projects are challenging and meaningful.

My biggest surprise

For me, the biggest surprise at McKinsey came during my two-week introductory training called Embark. It is designed to give everyone joining the firm whether as a strategy or design consultant, executive assistant, or new partner the same foundational skills and a strong community. During these two weeks, I realized the extraordinary breadth of capabilities McKinsey brings to its clients from cutting edge machine learning to product design. It is no longer a firm full of MBAs; it is so much more diverse. That means there is someone who knows the answer to almost any conceivable question. To be a thread in this extraordinarily, colorful fabric is a privilege.

Richard competitive skiing
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More about me

Outside of McKinsey, I continue my service to the British Army as a reservist. I am a Captain specializing in civil-military cooperation, with the objective to make NGOs, militaries and government agencies work better together on operations. There are currently 17 reserve officers in the London office; every year, we get two weeks of paid leave for military duties on top of our regular PTO, which we can schedule between projects. McKinsey also fully supports operations tours when they arise.

Outside the military, I love electronic music events (house and techno genre), especially in my favorite European cities in the summer months (just not in 2020!). I recently developed a love of (expensive) Scandinavian cities, so having visited Copenhagen and Oslo multiple times and I hope to see Stockholm next. I am also deeply interested in politics and attend as many think tank talks/public events in London as I can, especially in the realm of foreign affairs and multilateral governance.

I studied Economics at University of Nottingham and received a master’s in international public policy from University College London. This March, I joined McKinsey as a junior associate in the London office.

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