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Spotlight on Thao

We sat down with Thao to learn about her experience at McKinsey
Thao sitting on the ground at a market
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How did you find your way to McKinsey?

I worked in sports media for more than five years before joining McKinsey. I oversaw a national intercollegiate sports league with a network of more than 100 universities in Vietnam. I also worked in marketing for a few pro sports teams. During this period, I worked directly with a colleague who was a McKinsey alum. I learned a lot from him and was introduced to the McKinsey way of working – structuring issues and top-down communication. I decided that if I changed jobs, I would look at McKinsey.

Why did you decide to join McKinsey?

I chose McKinsey for two reasons. One, I was inspired by the McKinsey people I met through my colleague. They are sharp and friendly and were willing to support my future application.  Two, I was impressed by McKinsey’s long history in Vietnam, helping reputable clients make a difference in the market. I often found insightful McKinsey articles about the market.

I am amazed by how much learning is available at the firm. I can find information and courses – in-person and online – on nearly any topic. Last year, I participated in a training dedicated for female consultants that provide the skills to present with impact at clients.

What has been your most rewarding experience at the firm so far?

My most rewarding experience was organizing and running a leadership workshop for senior leaders at a client. I collaborated with world-class faculty members to develop the curriculum. During the sessions, senior executives opened up and started to look at the world with new perspective. It was truly inspiring.

What have you learned?

One of the many things I’ve come to appreciate and understand while working at McKinsey has been how important diversity and inclusion are. We are a global firm. On my first day at McKinsey, I was on a phone call with a partner in Hong Kong and two others in Europe. I remember thinking, “wow, we don’t have geographic boundaries.” Since then, I have worked on multiple projects in Vietnam where I was the only Vietnamese native on the team. I have also worked with clients and colleagues from several countries in Asia. Culture differences may be overwhelming at first but help foster empathy and acceptance among team members.

How would you describe your colleagues?

Open-minded, over-achieving, equal parts chill and hard-working, smart, and committed to self-improvement.

Thao walking on steps
We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at:

What are you doing to support work-life balance?

Though our work can be challenging, we can recharge ourselves through vacation and initiatives such as Take Time, a McKinsey program that allows consultants to take an extra five to 10 weeks of unpaid leave a year. There is also a new initiative called Magic of Us, which encourages a more sustainable, balanced lifestyle for everyone. There are activities around how to achieve better sleep, nutrition, physical exercise, and mindfulness.  We each have to be conscious about balance to thrive in the longer journey.

Any advice for people interested in joining McKinsey?

Learn as much as you can about McKinsey to find your fit . Reach out to consultants and recruiters; ask questions. Second, prepare for your interviews. The recruiting process is rigorous, but you will be surprised how much you can improve your own problem-solving skills and business acumen just through interview prep. During my interview process, I ensured I had regular case interviews and maintained a journal to track my areas of improvement. It is important to step back and reflect on your performance after every interview. Third, go for it!

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