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The magic of McKinsey design

Product designer Scott moved across the country with his wife and son, seeking a more challenging and impactful role. Learn how he found both in his first year here at McKinsey.

Within my first year at McKinsey, I’ve been fortunate to work on a variety of client engagements to create impact in a lot of different ways: Organizational capability mapping to help a pharma client plan for future growth; identifying new surgical innovation opportunities for heart health; defining a service offering to help hospitals become more efficient; and the list goes on.

Scott Inline
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Growing through challenge
I’m a design director at McKinsey, specializing in the Pharmaceuticals & Medical Products industry, and now that I’m able to catch my breath from this amazing ride, I wanted to reflect on why I chose to work at McKinsey. There were numerous reasons, both personally and professionally, but overall there were two main drivers: 1) The challenge of the opportunity; 2) and the potential to have more impact in the world.

“We grow through challenge.” I am a firm believer in this quote. In a way, it has become how I’m wired. I find motivation through challenge: This is why I run marathons, and why I am learning to swim to compete in triathlons. And, this is why I was extremely intrigued when my discussions first began with McKinsey.

The magic of peanut butter and jelly
The concept of bringing design/innovation together with business analytics and strategy is a popular topic today. A lot of companies are trying it, with mixed results. The challenge and opportunity is for McKinsey to set an example: truly lead and pioneer this blending of the design and business toolkits.

As Derrick Kiker, partner and visionary for bringing design into McKinsey, has said, “the magic is in truly mixing the peanut butter (design) and jelly (business)…”. If we are able to disrupt ourselves by infusing more design and innovation into the firm, we can apply our methods to help clients grow and disrupt themselves in new ways. It’s been extremely rewarding to work closely with others on this challenge.

Laying new roots in the Windy City
McKinsey represents challenge and stretch in other ways. I love the challenge to build an innovation capability in Chicago, find the right people, and create the right culture. On a personal level, the opportunity meant moving my family from the east coast to Chicago.

This challenge of laying new roots in a new city was exciting and something we embraced. We are still die–hard Red Sox fans, but otherwise we have embraced Chicago and everything it has to offer. It’s been an incredibly rewarding ride the past year. I’m excited to see how the challenges evolve and our impact continues to increase.

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About Scott

Scott is a McKinsey design director, specializing in the pharmaceuticals and medical products industry. Prior to joining McKinsey, he was a senior industrial designer and program manager at Farm Design, a healthcare innovation consultancy. Based in Chicago, Scott has an MBA in entrepreneurship and marketing from Babson College, and a bachelor's in industrial design from the University of Cincinnati. 

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

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