Staffing is a conversation, not an assignment

I joined McKinsey more than seven years ago as a recruiter. I loved helping candidates (like you perhaps) find a home within this amazing organization. One of the questions that always came up during recruiting was about how staffing works. It’s an important question because, as a consultant, a lot of your experience happens on engagement teams, serving clients.

A couple of years ago, I transitioned from recruiting to professional development. Now, I’m involved in answering that question in a much more active way. As a professional development manager, I help consultants, especially those in their first year at McKinsey, navigate the firm. I once considered a career as a college guidance counselor, and this feels very close to that. I help my colleagues understand how to succeed at McKinsey and beyond.


When I first sit down with a new joiner, I take time to get to know her or him. I ask a lot of questions to understand their goals and why they chose to join McKinsey. Some questions I ask include:

  • What does a dream study look like to you? Do you care more about the topic on which you work, the people you work with or the location of the engagement?
  • What type of work are you excited to do?
  • Are you excited about tackling a variety of challenges or more interested in diving deep into a specific industry or function?
  • Are there any big life events coming up that will help shape your preferences in the near or long term?
  • Have you connected with anyone during the recruiting process who you would be excited to work with in your first year?
  • What are your learning goals? What experiences have you already had and what skills do you need to build to round out your consulting toolkit (here I may guide a little more and add my perspective on what consultants need in that toolkit…)?

After I know more about the individuals I’m supporting, I work with the broader professional development team and the McKinsey partners leading engagements to identify the best opportunities for each consultant. I spend a lot of time thinking about the people and skills each client service team needs to do its best work and the teams and projects each consultant needs to grow, develop, succeed, and feel happy and comfortable. While I may not solve for everything on every engagement, knowing a lot about the consultants I support gives me a good understanding about what experiences I need to help them find.

My best advice for all new joiners is to communicate what your dream study looks like from all dimensions and to remain flexible. Sometimes, the best experiences our consultants have come from teams and engagements they might not have thought to join at first. I get lots of comments from the consultants I support that they are glad they stretched into a new industry, a new topic or with a new team.


The best part about my role is I get to know the associates I work with very closely. I get to help them build their networks and grow as professionals. I celebrate their successes with them and counsel them through tough times. It’s so rewarding.

If you’re interested in learning more about our staffing process, please check out this blog and/or listen to this episode of our new McKinsey Recruiting podcast.

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