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Shaping a solution through data engineering

Atlanta-based data engineer Sonia captures the meaningful autonomy and sponsorship she's had at McKinsey to develop both her data-engineering and client-engagement skills.

I joined one of our McKinsey solution teams, because it’s similar to a startup with the backing of a global firm. Here, you get all the advantages of working in a fast-paced culture, with smaller, tighter-knit teams, additional responsibilities, and opportunities to grow.

Because our solution team of 30+ product managers, data engineers and researchers, solution consultants, and banking specialists, we’ve gotten to know each other well. We trust each other completely, and we can move quickly and efficiently as a result.

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Autonomy as a data engineer

In my role as a McKinsey data engineer, I have designed the database structure and ETL (extract, transform and load) processes for several products in the banking industry. We create benchmarks for the industry by collecting and standardizing data using a data warehouse. I created the process and the design structure to ensure the data could be accessed easily and quickly.

I have a ton of autonomy. I own end-to-end product development, including the design, building, and testing. At the end, I can say I helped built this from scratch, which is especially rewarding.

Developing my client-engagement skills

On one of my recent client engagements, I prepared the data and loaded it into the product. Then, I presented the work to the client, which typically isn’t part of my core responsibilities. But I asked for the opportunity and my team trusted me to do it and encouraged me along the way. This experience helped me gain new insights into how the client would use the tools we built, and helped me develop my communication skills. The experience helped me be a better data engineer and motivated me. I simply wouldn’t have had this opportunity anywhere else.

Advice for data-engineering recruits

For candidates exploring data engineering at McKinsey, you should know you’ll be part of meaningful client engagements – working on challenges you wouldn’t be exposed to anywhere else. These projects are incredibly rewarding, and they will help you grow professionally and personally. Expect to take on more than what’s in your job description and have a say in how you stretch and grow. Your time here will teach you so much more than a corporate position.

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In terms of lifestyle and travel, my team sits together in Atlanta, and we only travel for client presentations. As the primary data engineer on my immediate team, I work closely with product designers, product managers, software engineers, and consultants. The way you work on a product team is different than working on a client engagement team as a consultant. We develop code and optimize it, which means spending more time on one project, instead of changing teams every few months or so.

Find a job like Sonia’s

About Sonia

Based in Atlanta, Sonia is a data engineer, specializing in the banking industry. Prior to McKinsey, she served as a systems engineer at Tata Consultancy Services, and an application developer at JPMorgan Chase in Mumbai. Sonia holds a bachelor’s in telecommunications engineering from the CMR Institute of Technology in Bangalore, and a master’s in information systems management from Carnegie Mellon University.

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