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Meet our Next Generation Women Leaders: Sophie

McKinsey’s structured communication approach comes in handy at work, organizing the Next Generation Women Leaders event, and helping her sister.

Read more about: Diversity | Community

I participated in one of the first Next Generation Women Leaders events in 2014. Packing my bags for Paris, I felt nervous. Being surrounded by 150 women for a whole weekend when I was used to university classes full of men? What would I learn, how would it be different? My brain swirled with questions.

I immediately found the event inspiring and eye–opening regarding women’s role in business. I heard fascinating women leaders speak and got to know so many of my peers from all over Europe. My experiences at NGWL are the reason I applied to McKinsey and I have never regretted the decision.

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Since I started at McKinsey, I have learned so much. The most important skill is the ability to structure my thoughts and integrate this structure into my communication style. When working in detail on a problem, analyzing data and drawing implications from our work, we may forget other people are not as deep into the problem as we are. When I first joined, I explained my solutions by talking at length about what I did to reach them, which meant I sometimes ended up fixating on small details without getting to the conclusion. The more senior people on my team helped me develop a strong communication style. Now, I start with the main point of the research, then describe at a high level the three main insights that led me to that conclusion. I let my clients and team ask questions for more information if they want it. My mentors always take the time to help me structure my thoughts in this way, helping me outline the story, practicing presentations, etc.

This skill has helped me in other aspects, too. A few weeks ago, my little sister asked me for help with an application letter she penned for a new role. Guess what? I taught her how to write it using the pyramid communication principle. Now, I’m putting this strategy to work in my preparations for this year’s NGWL event. I am responsible for working out a case we will do with all the participants. Top down communication has helped me structure interesting and clear–to–follow materials. I’ll also get to teach this concept during NGWL. I’m excited to pass it on – along with so much more. I hope you’ll apply for NGWL so you can enjoy the same great experience I did.

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