I left home in Romania to pursue a degree in Bremen, Germany at age 19. I was abroad and living on my own for the first time, which was thrilling and scary. I had to adapt quickly and find supportive friends to survive thousands of miles away from home. As I did, I grew to love the challenge.
My undergraduate degree was a mix of business, operations and economics. When I completed it, I moved from Bremen to Rotterdam for a one–year master degree in finance at Rotterdam School of Management to build some more focused skills. Next stop: McKinsey as business analyst (BA) in Bucharest.
I loved my time as a BA. I did interesting work, across multiple industries and geographies, and made friendships that continue today. After two years, I left McKinsey to do my MBA at London Business School.
After business school, I got married and postponed my return to the firm by two months to fulfil a long–time dream: traveling around the world. In two months, my wife and I covered 45,000km by plane, 5,000km by car and an unknown distance on foot. We went from London to Singapore, Bali, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and finally, California, and then back to London.
Some of our most memorable moments were in Hawaii. We spent a week in Maui, by the beach, followed by another week on big island to explore the marvellous power of nature, especially volcanos. One day, we cycled for 10km and then hiked for two hours on volcanic rock to see lava flow from the Kilauea volcano. Of course, back then, its activity level was quite low, nothing compared to what happened recently. Seeing molten rock flowing into the ocean was an impressive show. The whole trip was an amazing adventure, and I am so glad the firm gave me time to do it. In fact, we’re hoping to repeat it in couple of years.
This is just one example of the McKinsey flexibility. I’ve been here three years now, and every year, I appreciate the ability I have to make my own McKinsey, maintain balance and stay true to my values. I’ve learned to better prioritize between work, family, friends and sports. The firm is very supportive and accommodating of my choices . For example, my wife lives in London and I am based in Bucharest. This would pose a logistical challenge for most families, but not for us. I usually commute every second week to London, or sometimes we spend the weekend in a different city, which gives us the opportunity to spend more time together, while exploring new places in Europe. It may not be what we chose to do forever, but for now, it’s working well. And when the time comes to adjust again, I know McKinsey will be there to support us.