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Mentorship and meaning

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We’re accepting applications for Insight Asia–Pacific, a three-day immersion in management consulting in Chicago in June. If you are a PhD or MD student in N America and interested in a career in Asia–Pacific, apply by Apr. 8. Uttara earned her master’s in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School. Learn what brought her back to McKinsey Mumbai after graduation:

I first joined McKinsey as a business analyst in 2009. I was recruited from the National Law School in Bangalore and chose to join McKinsey in Mumbai since that was close to home for my family. After two years, I left, which was customary at the time to explore various roles and organizations in domestic and international development and to complete my master’s in public administration and international development at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Upon completing my masters, I had to choose between working with development organizations in India and rejoining the firm. I came back as an associate for three big reasons.

Uttara inline

First, McKinsey offered me personal and professional growth with continuous coaching, feedback and mentorship from some of the best minds in the country. This gave me the chance to better my advisory skills and bolster my problem-solving toolkit much faster than I would have been able to do at another organization. For example, I’ve learned how to simplify problem statements, structure my thinking, and communicate more clearly with my clients and colleagues. These skills are critical in every industry, but especially in social sector problems related to public health and poverty alleviation, which are typically a web of complex political and economic issues.

Second, I have the ownership and freedom here to craft my journey -- to decide how I want to make a difference inside and outside of the firm. To this end, I chose to spend six months with the McKinsey Social Initiative, a non–profit founded by the firm in 2014. I was part of the Generation program and I helped improve the effectiveness of vocational training programs in India. As part of my role, I helped create the three–year strategic plan for the Indian initiative, launch and grow training programs in the hospitality sector, and forge partnerships with government institutions. We’ve helped more than 5,000 people in India build skills and find meaningful work. About 80% of our graduates outperform their peers and 100% of our employers are willing to hire Generation graduates again.

Finally, McKinsey offers unmatched access to decision makers and stakeholders across the public and private sectors. Throughout my time at the firm – as a business analyst, with Generation, and now as an associate focusing on tech and media – I have had a ring–side seat to witness and influence how India’s economic growth is being crafted – an opportunity hard to replicate at most other organizations. The things I’m learning will stay with me forever.

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More about Uttara

Uttara graduated as a lawyer from the National Law School of India, Bangalore in 2009 and completed her Master’s in Public Administration and International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2015. She has worked in development and with government organizations globally, including the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Malawi; the Public Health Foundation of India in New Delhi; and Instiglio Inc. in Medellin, Colombia. Uttara and her husband now live in Bangalore and enjoy exploring new countries together.

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