Variety and meaning are two words that come in my mind when I think back on my first six months with McKinsey. Before joining, I spent four years working with a talented group of data scientists and engineers for a small consulting company.
A "spicy" variety of work
We were recognized as a successful group who built solutions for our clients in financial services. I thought I had a good understanding of the variety of data science work and the impact it could have. But the sheer scale and reach of McKinsey is staggering. In the past six months, I’ve worked on five projects in four countries and three industries with more than 40 teammates. That’s some spicy variety.
We wrangled billions of data points to build hundreds of models and distilled them down to a handful of solutions. In Kenya, while the wildebeest embarked on their yearly migration, we built a product recommendation engine to generate millions of dollars in sales. In sunny South Africa, we designed a solution that makes it cheaper for millions of people to stay in contact with their loved ones no matter where they are. The positive impact on revenue, cost, and retention from these projects is easily quantified, and it’s significant.
Good data scientists know numbers are only half the story. The rest of the story is less tangible or quantifiable. It’s in the experience of sitting together with teammates and eating a local tajine followed by sweet mint tea in Morocco or immersing yourself in the local culture of a new country on the weekends. It’s the comfort of knowing a global support structure with thousands of experts are only an email or phone call away when you need guidance.
In six months, I’ve received coaching on technical topics, as well as personalized mentorship to accelerate my career growth. Whether it’s about taming a random forest, boosting performance, or dabbling in non–linear optimization, you can be sure there’s a specialist in the firm who can help.
Solving the world's toughest problemsWorking at McKinsey is demanding – solving the world’s toughest problems doesn’t happen overnight. But the variety of projects, the huge difference our work makes to clients, and the impact on my personal growth makes the reward well worth the challenge. And I’m only getting started!
Shiraz is a data scientist how has worked in both McKinsey Johannesburg and London offices. Prior to joining McKinsey, he was a data science consultant with Business Systems Group in South Africa. Shiraz has a bachelor's in information systems from the University of Cape Town.
For more information on McKinsey's data science career paths, visit mckinsey.com/TechCareers.