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Sanja's surprises

This junior associate in Zagreb shares three things she learned in her first six months

Read more about: Emerging markets

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I joined McKinsey in Croatia about six months ago after earning my MBA at ESADE. Some things about McKinsey I expected and others surprised me:

  1. Long hours do not have to be painful. Prior to working at McKinsey, I had the misconception that consultants worked long hours all the time and struggled to make time to keep fit during the work week. Surprisingly, although I do occasionally work late nights, I have learned to find balance and fit everything in. My life as a consultant is extremely dynamic: different projects, a variety of clients and colleagues, travelling, and many activities each day, including meetings, problem solving sessions, interviews, analyses, document creation, etc. Then, on the fun side, there are regular team dinners and events and the ‘small talk’ in the team room that leads to inside jokes and lasting friendships. All this makes consulting a lot more than a job. I feel energized and satisfied on Fridays because I look back at the progress I made that week.
  2. There is always someone who knows the answer to your question. New projects bring new challenges, but at McKinsey there is always someone who has experience and expertise in the topic I’m investigating. I never feel like I am going at it alone; many times, I have picked up the phone to call one of my colleagues in another country, and I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t willing to lend a hand and help me.
  3. Focus on your strengths. Feedback is a constant and critical part of our culture. We spend significant time having conversations with each other about our professional development. Coming from a culture in Central Europe where feedback was often synonym for criticism, learning about strengths-based feedback at McKinsey was eye-opening for me. I learned we each have a spike, an area in which we are especially strong, and that, by focusing on that spike, we can become exceptional. Colleagues at McKinsey are committed to making each other the best versions of themselves.

More about Sanja:

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At Harvard I started with classes related to Finance because I wanted to build management skills. I knew I wanted to work in pharma, but I always was more interest in the management part of the industry. I did my MBA at ESADE in Spain so I could learn more about business and study Spanish. Now I speak the language on a conversational level, and I am continuing to take Spanish courses on Saturdays to get to proficiency.

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